farming

Harvest Public Media
7:55 am
Wed June 26, 2013

My Farm Roots: A Cowboy At Heart

Once an average suburban Colorado kid, Trent Johnson spent years ranching and now owns storied cowboy outfitter Greeley Hat Works.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Trent Johnson didn’t grow up on a farm, but he was always enamored with the cowboy lifestyle.

He sure looks the part now. I visited him in his custom cowboy hat shop in Greeley, Colo. In a sleek black cowboy hat and blue western shirt, Johnson delivers the modern cowboy aesthetic.

During college he hung out with the urban cowboy crowd, which included concerts for country idols like Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw. The city kid, who’d spent part of his childhood on a ski team, decided he needed a change.

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Harvest Public Media
7:40 am
Tue June 25, 2013

The Tricky Business Of Community Supported Agriculture

Michael Baute farms three acres in Fort Collins, Colo. One-third of Spring Kite Farms goes to the farm’s CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, clients.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Within the local food movement, the community supported agriculture model is praised. CSAs, as they’re commonly known, are often considered one of the best ways to restore a connection to the foods we eat.

The model is simple: Consumers buy a share of a farmer’s produce up front as a shareholder and then reap the rewards at harvest time. But running a CSA can bring with it some tricky business decisions.

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Harvest Public Media
7:53 am
Mon June 24, 2013

For Community Shared Agriculture, How Big Is Too Big?

Andy Grant walks among chickens that will provide eggs for a new CSA effort, Sixdog Farms.
Credit Grace Hood / Harvest Public Media

Last year one of the country’s largest Community Supported Agriculture share providers went bankrupt. Grant Family Farms in Northern Colorado launched an organic CSA back in 2007 with 127 members and peaked with more than 5,000 in 2012.

The story behind why Grant Family Farms went bankrupt is complicated. But it also sheds light on whether a CSA can become too big.

Losing it all

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Harvest Public Media
8:39 am
Wed June 19, 2013

My Farm Roots: A Song In Her Heart

Retired professor Jackie Dougan Jackson lives in Springfield, Ill., but devotes a lot of time reflecting on her childhood growing up on a farm near Beloit, Wisc.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

Jackie Dougan Jackson keeps a pretty thorough log of her life. The 85-year-old retired college professor lives in Springfield, Ill., and has lived there for more than 40 years. However, she has devoted a lot of time to her first 22 years, when she lived on a family farm near Beloit, Wisc.

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Harvest Public Media
10:49 am
Mon June 17, 2013

What Is The Future Of Crop Insurance?

Kansas wheat farmer John Thaemert surveys his parched crop in this file photo from 2006.
Credit Frank Morris

Crop insurance is a big part of the farm bill debate in Washington this year. The Senate recently passed a bill that would expand the heavily subsidized program.  And now the House is zeroing in on the issue.  

Several pending amendments would curb how much the government provides to cut the cost farmers pay for crop insurance. But, crop insurance premiums aren’t the only part of the system supported by tax payers.

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Harvest Public Media
8:09 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Farmers Face 'Weather Whiplash' With Floods, Drought

The motorized growl from an idling John Deere tractor drowned out the sounds of nature on a recent morning on Chris Webber’s central Missouri family farm.

As he checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant that day, Webber worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

“The drought is over at the moment,” he said, “but in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That’s how fast it can get back to dry.”

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed June 12, 2013

My Farm Roots: In Hip Brooklyn, Connecting With A Farm Past

On the Brooklyn rooftop garden she helps maintain, Missouri native Monica Johnson says she's not afraid to show her farm roots.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Monica Johnson, 36, watered edible yellow kale flowers on a recent sunny morning at a rooftop garden in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, N.Y. Standing in front of the Manhattan skyline in her sleeveless top, shades and blond ponytail pulled back in a trucker cap, she looked part-farm girl and part-hipster.

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Harvest Public Media
10:15 am
Tue June 11, 2013

3 Takeaways From The Senate Farm Bill

Credit Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate approved a new comprehensive farm bill Monday, its plan for everything from food and nutrition assistance to disaster aid for livestock producers to crop insurance for farmers. But before you go popping champagne corks and celebrating the creation of five-years of agricultural policy, know this: The U.S. House has yet to weigh in.

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Agriculture
8:21 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Excessive Rain May Challenge Corn Growers

Soggy fields like this one in Callaway County, Mo., have delayed planting in much of the Midwest.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s been a wet spring in the Midwest – and that’s got corn growers a little behind on planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 91 percent of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of June 2, compared to 95 percent at the same time last year.

Iowa, the nation’s largest producer of corn, has only got 88 percent of the crop in ground. In Missouri, 86 percent.

Last year, growers in both states were done with planting by now. But besides the late planting, the abundance of water presents other challenges for farmers.

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Harvest Public Media
7:27 am
Wed June 5, 2013

My Farm Roots: Lessons From The Farm Crisis

The fifth-generation to run his family farm, Mark Kenney says the '80s farm crisis taught him lessons for today.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

I met Mark Kenney on his family’s farm in Nevada, Iowa, when I was working on a story about farmer taxes. He turned out to be perfect for that—a farmer with a keen interest in spreadsheets.

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Agriculture
7:35 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Smithsonian To Feature Farms And Farmers In New Exhibit

Smithsonian curator Peter Liebhold shows off some of the artifacts he's been collecting from farms all over rural America for the museum's upcoming 'American Enterprise' exhibition.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Crops and cattle, soil and sweat. American agriculture has a proud history to share, a story to tell. But getting the attention of a tech-savvy nation that has mostly moved away from its farm roots has been difficult. Today, though, there is a glimmer of hope for farm fans. The plow, truth be told, looks a little lonely.

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Harvest Public Media
7:59 am
Mon April 29, 2013

How A Niche Market Saved This Farmer's Pork Business

Randy Hilleman turned his suffering pork business into an interstate collective of hog producers.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

There’s more than one way to sell a pig.

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.”

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Harvest Public Media
5:15 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

From Flush To Fertilizer: City Farms Recycle Waste

Birmingham Farm, owned by the city of Kansas City, Mo., uses treated human waste as fertilizer.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

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.

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The Salt
3:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Test Your Food IQ: Do We Need More Farms To Grow Fruits And Veggies For All?

Orchards like this one in Adams County, PA, and other U.S. farms face worldwide competition for their apples and apple products due to imports.
Brad C. Bower AP

Think you're part of the food-literati? True or false: 13 million more acres of farmland would be required to produce enough fruit and vegetables for the daily diets of all Americans to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines.

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My Farm Roots
3:30 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Family On The Family Farm

Brandon Fahrmeier and his brother Bret Fahrmeier farm in Lexington, Mo., on land that has been in their family since the 1940s.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

Brandon Fahrmeier had a nice job as a sales rep in Ohio for a large company. He and his wife had a nice suburban home. Then they had kids. 

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Central Standard
3:41 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Inside The Urban Farm Movement

Edwin Marty at the Central Branch of the KC Public Library
Andrea Silenzi KCUR

People have always grown food in urban spaces – from windowsills to neighborhood parks – but today, urban farmers say they’re leading a new movement. On this Wednesday's Central Standard, a look at efforts to transform the nation’s food system.

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The Salt
5:21 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Milk Not Jails Makes Partners Out Of Farmers And Ex-Cons

A dairy farmer drives some of his Holstein cows out to pasture in the Madison County, N.Y. town of Lenox.
Jim Commentucci The Post-Standard /Landov

What's plentiful in upstate New York? Cows and prison inmates, to name a few things.

Reformists in the two communities don't make natural allies, but organizer Lauren Melodia is trying to do just that.

"I was living in this prison town, and at the same time, the dairy industry was in a lot of turmoil," Melodia tells The Salt. "We thought this [dairy] might be the perfect ally in trying to build a different economy in upstate New York, and shift some of the economic dependency away from the prison system."

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Immigration
8:31 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Republicans At Odds Over Undocumented Worker Program

A bill introduced into the legislature proposes that undocumented immigrants be allowed to work in Kansas for two years at a time to address labor shortages at feedlots and dairies.
NDSU Ag Comm Flickr.com

A pro-business, pro-immigration bill introduced in the Kansas legislature yesterday pits traditionally Republican business leaders against the hardline anti-immigration Secretary of State and maybe the Republican governor as well.

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Harvest Public Media
8:28 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Labor Department Revising Child Labor Plan

Scott Wilber works on fall cleanup of his watermelon field in this file photo. Helping him on his farm near Boone, Iowa, is his employee, MacKenzie Lewis, 15, (left), and his son, Drew, 14.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Labor Department on Wednesday backed off a controversial change to child labor laws after an outcry from farm country, softening its stance on barring kids from working certain jobs on family farms.

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Harvest Public Media
10:27 am
Tue January 31, 2012

Cows Munch On Recycled Captain Crunch

Breakfast for you or your cattle? Food waste, like discarded oatmeal, from many factories gets recycled into livestock feed.
Farmanac Flickr.com

Throwing food scraps to hogs and other farm animals is an age-old practice. As food production has become more industrialized, food factories have found ways to continue to recycle massive amounts of would-be food waste.

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Harvest Public Media
8:44 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Health Group Pushes Farmers To Reduce Antibiotic Use

Gail Hanson, a veterinarian with the Pew Research Center, says the feed Jeremy Gustafson feeds to his hogs contains antibiotics.
Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

Even though the use of antibiotics in livestock feed has been linked to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently backed away from a 30-year-old proposal that would ban the use of antibiotics tetracycline and penicillin in livestock feed.

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Harvest Public Media
9:14 am
Tue September 21, 2010

Generating New Connections

Matt Peters and John Lase found each other through the FarmOn program run out of Iowa State University.

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.

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KCUR News
9:14 am
Mon September 20, 2010

Black Farmers Again Seek Settlements From Decade-Old Discrimination Lawsuit

Talmadge West plucks a walnut from a tree on his farm in Hayti, MO on Wednesday, August 25.
Photo by Polina V. Yamshchikov

Columbia, Mo –

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.

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KCMO City Hall
2:28 am
Thu June 3, 2010

Urban Agriculture Ordinance Clears Committee

Kansas City, Mo. – After months of discussion and weeks of committee hearings, Kansas City's Planning and Zoning finally sent the full city council an urban agriculture ordinance Wednesday.

The committee added a number of restrictions including a prohibition on row crops in front yards, restriction of sales to fresh produce and requiring community gardens to get approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

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Immigration
11:34 pm
Sun December 9, 2007

Immigrant And Refugee Farmers Share Planting Tips

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.

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