Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Like most farmers, Mark Nelson, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat near Louisburg, Kansas, is getting squeezed. He’s paying three times more for seed than he used to, while his corn sells for less than half what it brought four years ago.

“It’s a – that’s a challenge,” Nelson says. “You’re not going to be in the black, let’s put it that way.”

Low commodity prices are rippling up and down the farm economy food chain from the farm to the boardroom, and it has many of the huge companies that control farm inputs looking to a new future.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Hundreds of lawsuits against seed company Syngenta could develop into a major class-action potentially involving almost every corn farmer in the country.

Grace Hood / KUNC

When unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn’t take long for accusations about how it ended up there to start flying. A flurry of initial finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Fort Collins, Colo., which housed the same strain of wheat, developed by Monsanto Corp., for about seven years up until late 2011.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

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.