Harvest Public Media

Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and the push and pull for resources has serious ramifications for our country’s economic recovery and prosperity.

How much do you know about that bread you just buttered or that steak you just ate? What do you know about cars powered on ethanol or about how fracking will affect your water supply?

Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR, is a collaborative public media project that reports on important agriculture issues in the Midwest.

To learn more, visit www.harvestpublicmedia.org, like Harvest Public Media on Facebook or follow @HarvestPM on Twitter.

Courtesy ConAgra

You might think employees in ConAgra’s Information Technology department are all big-time techies or that they boast computer science degrees from prestigious universities. While some certainly do, ConAgra is one of many companies making hiring decisions that are a bit outside the box.

A few years ago, the company re-vamped its IT intership program looking for more recent graduates with liberal arts degrees.  IT departments are usually heavy on computer scientists and not on those who didn’t climb the traditional techie ladder.

Surprise! Corn Stocks Are Up

Jan 17, 2012
Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first crops supply report of the new year surprised some analysts Thursday, because it didn’t lower the estimate for corn in storage. Predictably, that led to a drop in corn prices by about 50 cents a bushel.

That price drop doesn’t just affect corn farmers. It has ramifications for the entire food system, from corn farmers to cattle ranchers to grocery store shoppers.

USDAgov / Flickr

Some farmers groups and consumer advocates are concerned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plan to close 259 offices nationwide could hurt farmers and food safety.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

North Kansas City took the first step toward creating a new sprawling business development Thursday, when a demolition crew began destroying a century-old Archer Daniels Midland mill.

The hulking gray mill sits on 58 acres of prime land at the intersection of 210 highway and I-35. The city hopes a developer will re-tool the land and create a large mixed-use development that could include medical offices, retail stores and possibly even some residential units.

If you've been to a Hy-Vee grocery store recently, chances are you've seen some numbers right next to the price of an item of food.

It's a "NuVal" - a nutritional value placed on each and every food product. 

Scott Bauer / USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it will close 259 of its facilities as part of an effort to save about $150 million.

The closings will encompass offices, labs and other operations. The plan will affect the USDA's Washington D.C. headquarters, facilities in 46 states and its international operations. The USDA’s budget is currently about $145 billion.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

The Food and Drug Administration is clamping down on the off-label use of certain antibiotics in food-producing animals. 

In an order published today, the FDA said meat producers can no longer use the class known as cephalosporins in ways not approved by the agency. While curbing use won’t change much in the meat industry, the order signals a bigger concern about antibiotics regulation, some farmers say.

Tammy Ljungblad / Kansas City Star

Hedging by way of the commodities market often comes in mighty handy for many of the nation’s farmers.

But in the aftermath of derivatives trader MF Global’s recent bankruptcy —in which $1.2 billion in customer funds, much of it from Midwest farmers, went missing — some observers are questioning whether farmers and other investors might reconsider their options.

Opinions differ on the effects of the Wichita Boeing shutdown, the Missouri Legislature talks K-12 budgets, KU defeats K-State & more: A daily digest of headlines from KCUR.

Republicans On The Farm

Jan 3, 2012
IowaPolitics.com / Flickr

Grant Gerlock / NET News

The most popular menu choice at Amigos restaurant in Lincoln, Neb., is the soft taco. The combo meal with a soft taco, a 20-ounce Pepsi and mexi-fries, which are like tater tots, adds up to 1,100 calories.

While you can find that calorie count on the Amigos web site, it’s not on the menu — yet.

Fracking's New Angle In Kansas

Dec 27, 2011
Bigstock.com

After finding success and controversy in other states, horizontal fracking is bringing a new angle to the oil and gas business in Kansas, along with environmental concerns.

“It’s just now starting here in Kansas. We probably have a handful of horizontal drilling operations currently going on, but we anticipate that to grow,” said Doug Louis, director of the conservation division with the Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

Just as the local foods movement is growing legs in the Midwest, a key piece of infrastructure is struggling. 

Many small poultry processing plants have closed, in large part because of  challenges finding laborers and making a profit. Without the plants, small farmers say they won't be able to provide meat to local grocery stores and farmers markets.

In Iowa, poultry growers this year got an unexpected, and unwelcome, surprise right during poultry harvest time -- one of Iowa's three state-inspected poultry plants shut down.  

Clay Masters / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media: With more families depending on the National School Lunch Program to feed their children, school districts are gearing up to implement new nutrition guidelines being handed down by the federal government by early next year.

All Eyes On NBAF Construction, Just No Cameras

Aug 17, 2011

The dirt’s far from settled at the construction site of the new home for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility— or NBAF — in Manhattan, Kan.

Who's Wearing Those Overalls?

Feb 28, 2011

Kansas City, MO – The vast majority of women-run farms are smaller, and focus on niche markets, like grass-fed livestock. Together, Helen Gunderson and Betsy Dahl are breaking into a typical male territory and taking it in their own direction.

Listen to the story at Harvest Public Media

Redefining the Farm Woman

Feb 28, 2011

Kansas City, MO –

Across the Midwest, the landscape of farming is subtly changing hands. As the population ages, one group of farmland owners is growing: widows. In Iowa, women over 65 now own more than a one-quarter of the farmland.

While women have long been a part of farm life, women landowners frequently face unique social and cultural challenges. Advocates say that they haven't always been respected as farm decision makers and leaders. Slowly this is changing.

Investing in Ag 2.0

Feb 22, 2011
(Photo by Tim Lloyd / Harvest Public Media)

Kansas City, MO –

You've probably heard of Web 2.0, but what about Ag 2.0? It's shorthand for the infusion of technology into every facet of the agriculture industry.

Now a fresh crop of entrepreneurs is busy developing technologies that could change the face of farming.

Harvest Public Media's Tim Lloyd profiles one local company that's cultivated a new way for farmers to sell what they grow.

Got your interest piqued?

Grape expectations: Introducing Marquette wine in Iowa

Feb 8, 2011

Des Moines, IA –

(Photo by slolee / Flickr Creative Commons License)

Listen to the story

Marquette wine may be the most highly anticipated new product to ever hit Iowa's commercial wine industry.

And it's time has arrived.

Winter Markets are Heating Up

Feb 4, 2011
(Photo by Eric Durban)

Kansas City, MO –

Bad Seed, which is open every Friday from May through February, is one of a handful of Kansas City winter markets and part of a nationwide trend. The number of winter farmers markets has increased 17 percent in the last two years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As more small farmers find ways to grow produce in the winter, they're finding a home at winter markets.

Read and listen to the story at Harvest Public Media.

Columbia, Missouri – President Obama signed into law yesterday a measure that will set new, expansive nutrition guidelines in the country's public schools. As Harvest Public Media's Jessica Naudziunas reports, the new law will get produce from local farms.

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The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will shape new public school food offerings to help encourage healthier choices in vending machines and school lunches.

Black Farmers' Experience Captured by Photojournalist

Dec 6, 2010

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.

Edamame, Ed-a-mommy, Eda who?

Oct 11, 2010

Iowa –

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.

About half the gasoline sold in the U.S. today contains 10 percent ethanol.

But the ethanol industry, arguing that a 15 percent blend (E-15) is safe for all cars, last year asked the Environmental Protection Agency to approve a higher level of ethanol in fuel.

Fed Funds Target Rural Rebirth

Sep 23, 2010

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.

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.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced KCUR will be one of seven stations receiving grants to create local journalism centers.

KCUR will work with five public media partners in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska to cover agribusiness.

CPB President Patricia Harrison said at a press conference in Washington D.C. that CPB is committed to local news.

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