As the soybean harvest winds down in Iowa, there's growing interest in ramping up production of a different kind of soybean, one that is aimed solely at human consumption.
Two carloads of food writers, news reporters and chefs recently joined a field trip to a farm outside of Corning, Iowa to learn more about edamame, the Japanese word for a special variety of green soybeans. Often found in Asian and health food recipes, it is no longer just a novelty. They're in the frozen food isle of many grocery stores.
Jefferson City, MO – The heavy rainfall and flooding in parts of the Midwest have so far not delayed crop harvests in Missouri. Last year's drenching rains led to late corn and soybean harvests and prevented farmers in Missouri from planting winter wheat. Gene Danekas with the U.S.D.A. says this year's situation is not as severe.
"42 percent, almost half of the corn, has been harvested, that's well over 3 weeks faster than we were last year," says Danekas. "I know there's some wet fields, especially after this last week, so that'll probably slow them down somewhat."
Kansas City, Mo – In the next decade or so, much of the Midwest could be facing some big changes in land ownership. More than half the farmland in some states is owned by people age 55 and older.Keeping family farms in family hands is a real concern for some of these farmers.
Talmadge West has returned to the rural Bootheel to retire. Though his family legacy is rooted in corn, soybeans and cotton native to this part of the state, West doesn't farm. He's kept his family history alive with a garden. He walks around his backyard, eating a meal along the way.
From the beginning, West says, black farmers in Pemiscot County were set up to struggle.
Lenexa,Kansas – Congressional hearings on the salmonella outbreak will take place next week in Washington.
The goal- to try and understand what happened to cause the recent recall of almost half a billion eggs, and subsequent illness of hundreds of people. Congress will further look at ways to prevent an outbreak from happening in the future.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee will hear from victims of salmonella, as well as poultry producers.
The Kansas Bioscience Authority said at its annual meeting this week that the USDA will partner with Kansas to promote bioscience research.
The KBA says the partnership is a huge benefit to existing efforts to collaborate with local and state governments. The KBA also collaborates extensively with venture capital companies. The KBA has invested 50 million dollars in bioscience research, and has attracted a number of firms to the area who have promised to invest up to 200 million dollars.
Kansas City, Mo. – Locally-grown produce is becoming increasingly popular around the country, but in Kansas City, not everyone seems to want food grown as locally as next door. The city council is considering an ordinance to foster urban agriculture.
Lawrence, Kan. – Now that it seems spring may have really begun, farmers and gardeners are making plans to grow food and ornamental plants. But an ambitious new project at the University of Kansas has researchers tilling the soil in hopes of growing medicine. KC Currents' Alex Smith went to Lawrence this week to find out more.
Kansas City, MO – It looks like banking isn't the only industry coming in for some added regulatory scrutiny from the Obama administration. US Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack have launched a series of workshops probing anti-trust issues in agriculture. Some big agribusiness firms say the forums will showcase a well functioning, free market. But, many producers think they'll expose a system increasingly hostile to the traditional family farm.
Kansas City , Mo. – The latest feather in the cap for the so-called "animal health corridor" is the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, or CEEZAD.
The center is a $12 million dollar investment by the Department of Homeland Security at K-State. It will compliment the work of the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility. The so-called NBAF is the high-security lab Manhattan recently won in a competitive bidding process that will be researching foreign and domestic animal diseases and vaccines.
Kansas City, MO – For the last couple of years, feed prices have been so high that US farmers lost money on almost every pig they raised. China was one of the bright spots for US producers, their third largest, and fastest-growing export market. But H1N1 put a stop to that. Chinese officials said they were worried about catching "SWINE" flu from eating US pork, even though you can't. It was just cover, according to Ron Plain an agricultural economics professor at the University of Missouri.
Kansas City, MO – The U.S. Senate has approved $32 million for a massive Kansas lab aimed at research on foot-and-mouth and other diseases.
The money is in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that the Senate approved on a vote of 79-19 Tuesday. The House has already approved the $44.1 billion compromise spending bill, which is headed to President Barack Obama.
Kansas City, MO – Legislation to fund construction of a federal research lab in Kansas has moved forward. Federal officials chose Manhattan, Kansas late last year as the site for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
Kansas City , Mo. – Reports from the federal government last week underscore optimism about the farm economy. But for farm activists, there are lingering concerns.
The US Department of Agriculture and Federal Reserve reports suggest the farm economy is in relatively good shape. Among the reasons are stabilizing land and commodity values, greater demand for corn-based fuel because of higher prices for crude oil, and the potentially record crop harvests.
Kansas City, MO – Food, Inc., a documentary film about the modern agricultural industry, is a hit with big-city movie reviewers, small-scale organic farmers and vegetarians. Full of disturbing scenes depicting chickens, hogs and cattle being crowded into confined areas, the movie argues that large-scale agriculture produces inexpensive meat and vegetables at a high cost to the environment - as well as Americans' health.
The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known, is supposed to bring millions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of jobs and international prestige to Manhattan, Kan.
A consortium of Kansas State University, the state of Kansas and a public-private "bioscience authority" wrote the proposal for the facility's location. The Department of Homeland Security chose the Kansas proposal over four finalists from other states.
Manhattan, KS – The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known, is supposed to bring millions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of jobs and international prestige to Manhattan. A consortium of Kansas State University, the state of Kansas and a public-private "bioscience authority" wrote the proposal.
Kansas City, MO – While lots of industries are in trouble these days, it's hard to think of one that's been turned upside down quite the way ethanol has. Three years ago the profits were huge, and companies excitedly planned hundreds of new plants. The "dot corn bubble" popped earlier this year, before the recession hit. Now the industry faces a major transition, in a recession.
Kansas City, MO – Long term forecast, look for warming with alternating droughts, floods and an ever increasing chance of ice storms and tornadoes for the next 100 years. The Director of the US Agriculture Department's National Soil Tilth Lab Jerry Hatfield says large parts of Kansas will likely have to stop growing wheat. Heavy storms will pose serious challenges for Missouri farmers. Hatfield doesn't think there will be less rain in total, but he expects it will be a whole lot less predictable.
Kansas City, Kansas – In the winter, as the land takes a rest, farmers often attend seminars and workshops so they can prepare for the next growing season. In the small cafeteria of the Korean Presbyterian Church in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City Kansas, a group of immigrant and refugee farmers recently gathered to share ideas. The event was organized by the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture. KCUR's Suzanne Hogan was there.
The Department of Homeland Security announced recently that a site near K-State in Manhattan, Kan., was on the short list to be the home of a new multi-million dollar federal center designed to protect the nation's food supply and public health.
Sen. Pat Roberts, the former Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and member of the Agriculture Committee, says biosecurity is a national concern and that Kansas is a natural place to put it front and center.
The proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known in Washington, will replace the aging lab on Plum Island, near New York. That lab has been the premier biosecurity facility to date.