And when the hog market plunged to 8 cents a pound in 1998, Iowa producer Randy Hilleman decided it was time to make a change. Hilleman raises Berkshire pigs, a breed that’s fattier than traditional pigs and costs a little more to raise. Back then, that was hurting him.
“If we took them into Marshalltown, [Iowa] to the big packing plant, we would get docked because they’re too fat,” Hilleman said. “What they pay on is lean, and we like to have some fat on ours.”
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says if Kansas lawmakers won't approve additional funds for the National Bio And Agro-Defense Facility, there's a chance it won't get built. And that's a risk he's not willing to take, he said over the weekend on a stop in Kansas City, Kansas.
President Obama's FY2014 budget requested $714 million for the top security animal disease lab proposed for Manhattan, Kansas. As part of that request, the state was asked to contribute $202 million. That's in addition to almost $150 million Kansas has already committed.
Some Republicans in Topeka suggest Governor Brownback’s request for an additional $202 million in bonds for the proposed animal disease lab represents a “moving target,” and want to be reassured the state isn’t going to be responsible for more than it can afford for a federal facility.
The window in Tom Burrus’ office gives him a good look at the wide expanse of Illinois River bottomland where his company produces seed corn for farmers across Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin. Hanging on his wall are sketches of his grandfather and others who’ve had a part in the Burrus Seed Co. since it was founded 1935. The 63-year-old company president knows he is a rare independent in a land of giants.
Mark Tjelmeland’s 700 free-range chickens lay 45 dozen eggs per day in indoor nesting boxes on his farm in McCallsburg, Iowa. The rest of the time, unless it’s too cold, they roam and peck in a fenced pasture.
You may not think much about store brands as you shop for groceries, but it’s a business worth nearly $60 billion per year. ConAgra, a company based in Omaha, Neb., made a splash recently in what the industry calls private label food when it paid $6.8 billion to buy Ralcorp, based in St. Louis, Mo. The merger created the biggest private label food company in the country.
While most Americans don’t farm, they do contribute to agriculture by buying food at stores and restaurants. And about half of us make an additional donation in the form of fertilizer. With spring at hand, farmers are getting ready for planting. That means enriching the soil and that may just involve you.
President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal to Congress asks for funds to “develop countermeasures for diseases originating from large animals that can be transmitted to humans, " including $714 million for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.
The news has already been interpreted by supporters as a green light for the $1.15-billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, in Manhattan, Kansas.
Senator Pat Roberts said the proposal represents the administration’s support for NBAF.
The Kansas Secretary of Agriculture says he’s moving most of state Agriculture Department to Manhattan. Secretary Dale Rodman says the agriculture in Kansas will benefit from being part of what he’s calling “the synergies” between Kansas State University and a burgeoning animal and plant science industry.
The move will allow the Kansas department to work more closely and avoid redundancies with bioscience research and commerce already going on in Manhattan.
From his farm’s headquarters in Nevada, Iowa, Mark Kenney can see his childhood home and farm. Not pictured, but also within sight, is the original piece of farmland Kenney’s great-great grandfather bought, which is still part of the operation that Kenney runs with his father and brother-in-law.
“Farmers didn’t necessarily have a great crop to harvest, but they harvested a huge amount of income last year. It was one of the biggest years, inflation-adjusted, since going back to the 1970s,” said Roger McEowen, who runs the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.
Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.
“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”
A senior official from the President’s Office of Management and Budget told two Congressmen he would be mindful of their concerns regarding the cost and safety of the proposed National Bio and Ago-Defense Facility (NBAF) in considering how much to allocate for NBAF in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
OMB Deputy Director of Management Jeffrey Zients told Congressmen Tim Bishop and Joe Courtney that the administration was forced to evaluate the proposal for a new large-animal disease lab in the context of current budget constraints.
In 2011, an explosion at a grain elevator in Atchison, Kansas, killed six people—employees and inspectors there—and rocked a community. Federal prosecutors are now considering charges in the case, but with 2010 the worst year on record, why does this keep happening?
On today's Central Standard, we explore the world of safety and regulation in the grain industry. Investigative reports this week from NPR News' Howard Berkes, Harvest Public Media's Jeremy Bernfeld, and the Kansas City Star's Mike McGraw, have revealed that hundreds have died in explosions and drownings in grain elevators—even as business is thriving, including here in Kansas—which is second in the nation in grain deaths.
The recent announcement by grocery chain Whole Foods that it will require labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients was greeted with excitement by many consumer groups. Biotech giant Monsanto, a leader in GM technology, sees it another way.
Whole Foods hopes to have labels on the GMO products on its shelves in five years. That move has certainly caught the attention of the food industry.
Recent snowfalls brought much needed moisture to our region. Even so, the drought of last year has not been broken. Should it continue for months ... or even years ... what are the potential long-term effects?
Two rapid-fire snowstorms belted Kansas with more than 2 feet of snow this week. They caused thousands of accidents and all kinds of hardships — but they also produced very broad smiles from some quarters.
That's because in a place as dry as Kansas has been lately, a blizzard can be a blessing for farmers and ranchers.
People have been cross-breeding plants for thousands of years, manipulating traits in agricultural crops from generation to generation. When scientists discovered that they could actually modify the genes of these plants in a laboratory, the landscape of agriculture changed dramatically -- and fast.
At an open house at DuPont Pioneer’s Dallas Center Corn Research Center near Des Moines, Iowa, retired corn breeder Bill Ambrose marveled at the tools available today to do the job he did for nearly 40 years.
“We could do a few hundred things and they do mega thousands of things,” Ambrose said.
In his day, he said, much more was done by hand—a team of five might harvest 250 plots in a day, while now “these guys that work in this place here have got huge combines that they can harvest 250 plots an hour,” he said.
Kansas Senator Pat Roberts said in an interview Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security will announce on Thursday its plans to release funds to get the stalled National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility started.
The so-called NBAF has had difficulty getting off the ground. Senator Roberts chairs an NBAF steering committee and is the project's guiding light in Congress. The new funding is expected to enable the start of construction on a central electric plant -- a requirement for the billion dollar lab.
$90 million in federal funds are available for the NBAF.
Researchers at Monsanto chart the progression of a corn plant over 10 weeks: seed, immature plant, callus, early shoot, shoots, early rooting and advanced rooting. Monsanto fills growth chambers reflecting diverse climate conditions with myriad seed samples.
The vast majority of the corn and soybeans in United States grow from seeds that have been genetically modified. The technology is barely 30 years old and the controversy surrounding it somewhat younger. But how did it even become possible?
At the crossroads of industry, railroads and farm country Kansas City has long been a capital of the plains. In recent years, though, Kansas City and other agriculture hubs have seen technology chip away at their importance.
Retired federal chicken inspector Phyllis McKelvey worked with Change.org and Whistleblower.org to gather signatures on a petition opposing the proposed new poultry slaughter rule. She delivered over 177,000 signatures to the U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Washington, D.C. last fall.
Retired federal inspector Phyllis McKelvey spent 44 years looking for blemishes and other defects on chicken carcasses. She started as an inspector’s helper, worked her way up, and in 1998, became part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture trial.
“I was one of the first group of inspectors ever put on HIMP,” she said in an interview from her home in north Alabama.
Dairy Farmers of America settled an anti-trust lawsuit Tuesday for $158.6 million, ending a long-running case that accused the country’s largest dairy cooperative of creating a monopoly in the Southeast, driving prices down for its own farmers and forcing many out of business.