: Robbie Maass shows his mother, Leah, the Commodity Challenge game that is helping him understand market tools. Leah Maass says her farm could benefit from better use of the tools and she’s hoping Robbie will be able to learn how to put them to work for the family
On a frigid winter day, Chad Hart tries to warm his economics students at Iowa State University to the idea of managing some of the risk of farming using the commodity markets. Because, as he told them on the first day of class, farmers don’t make money planting or harvesting crops; they make money selling them. And Hart knows that marketing—managing those sales for the best profit—can be intimidating.
The so-called farmland real estate bubble appears to be starting to deflate. After years of steep property values, a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows the high times may be coming to an end.
Since 2011, the price for a plot of a farmland across the Midwest has been growing at breakneck speed. Most of that has been due to the same trajectory in the price of major commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Now, with crop prices slipping, farmers are set to bring in less money. Money they could be using to buy or rent more land.
Pork producers across the country are continuing to grapple with a virus that’s killing their piglets. Experts estimate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus has already killed about 1 million baby pigs and the disease shows no sign of abating.
For Kansas farmer Frank Reese, Thanksgiving is a sad holiday. He raises heritage turkeys, a breed very different than those you can buy at in a modern-day supermarket. Few farmers in this country are still raising that kind, and many breeds of the bird are endangered.
To finance his preservation efforts, Reese has to work two jobs, and sell hundreds of birds a year to slaughter.
In recent years, farmers in the Midwest have transformed millions of acres of prairie grass to rows of corn. High crop prices are a big motivation, but some also believe crop insurance is encouraging farmers to roll the dice on less productive land.
Rod Christen and his sister Kay farm corn, soybeans and wheat on their land near the small town of Steinauer, Neb. But their main crop is grass.
“Big bluestem is our big producer,” said Rod Christen. “It’s kind of our Cadillac grass.”
Kansas City, MO – The U.S. Senate recently approved funding for a second round of settlements for black farmers who missed their first opportunity to receive compensation for years of discrimination. Photojournalist John Ficara spent four years documenting the lives of black farmers while working on his book Black Farmers in America. He spoke with Harvest Public Media's Jessica Naudziunas about his experience.
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.