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. Funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Harvest Public Media encompasses six NPR member stations in the region. To learn more, visit www.harvestpublicmedia.org, like Harvest Public Media on Facebook or follow @HarvestPM on Twitter.

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Agriculture
9:08 am
Mon March 25, 2013

When Grain Elevators Explode

Zoe Bock’s son, Chad Roberts, was killed when the Bartlett grain elevator exploded in Oct. 2011.
Courtesy Todd Feeback The Kansas City Star

When the Bartlett Grain Co. elevator exploded in Atchison, Kan., in October 2011, the town’s 11,000 residents knew it immediately.

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Agriculture
10:12 am
Mon March 18, 2013

GMO Labeling Laws On Deck In The Midwest

Labels at Swiss Meat and Sausage Co. near Hermann, Mo., do not indicate if products contain genetically modified organisms.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Just south of Hermann, Mo., Swiss Meat and Sausage Co. processes 2 million pounds of meat a year -- everything from cattle to hogs to buffalo to elk.

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Agriculture
9:12 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Dairy Settlement Doesn't Deliver Reform

Dairy cows on a Missouri farm are fed early one December morning.
Credit Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

When a group of small farmers in the southeastern U.S. banded together to sue a powerful dairy cooperative a few years ago, many hoped that the case would bring big changes to the milk industry.

But the recent settlement of the case involving Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America Inc., resulted in little long-term reform, even as the farmers received some monetary damages.

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Central Standard
4:30 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Science Of The Seed: A Joint Broadcast With IPR

Corn plants grow in a roof-top greenhouse at Monsanto's Chesterfield Village Research Facility
Credit 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.


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Agriculture
9:28 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Seed Science Pushes Toward Higher Yields

Researchers at DuPont Pioneer’s facility near Des Moines, Iowa, test these varieties of corn.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

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.

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Agriculture
9:26 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Generic Seeds Could Have Short Lifespan

Potted soybean plants line the tables in a research greenhouse at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Researchers are trying to understand the ways different genes control plant growth.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The patent rights on the first genetically modified seeds expire next year, but it’s not clear how the introduction of “generic” seeds fits into the science and business of GM crops.

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Agriculture
9:47 pm
Sun February 17, 2013

The Seeds Of Genetic Modification

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.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

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?

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Agriculture
9:10 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Technology Chips Away At Influence Of Prominent Ag Towns

Once a formidable trading floor, action on the Kansas City Board of Trade has slowed considerably over the last decade.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

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.

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Harvest Public Media
10:24 pm
Sun February 3, 2013

Modernizing Poultry Inspection No Easy Matter

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.
Credit Photo courtesy of Whistleblower.org

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.

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Agriculture
9:16 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Farm Bill Extension Doesn’t Sit Well With Many Organic Farmers

Liz Graznak, who runs Happy Hollow Farm in Jamestown, Mo., is one of many farmers who say they may not be able to afford the cost of organic certification without federal support.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Shoppers looking for organic food may have to look a bit harder this year.

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Agriculture
4:45 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Dairy Farmers Of America Settles Price-Fixing Suit

This five-foot plexiglass piece of art, resembling a freshly poured glass of milk, sits near the door to the headquarters of the Dairy Farmers of America, in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

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.

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Agriculture
11:54 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Can Small Farms Benefit From Wal-Mart’s Push Into Local Foods?

Produce broker Herman Farris stands in the parking lot of the east-side Wal-Mart in Columbia, Mo., before heading to St. Louis to pick up a shipment of bananas for Wal-Mart.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is muscling in on one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture: local food.

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Harvest Public Media
11:38 pm
Sun January 6, 2013

Drought Takes Head Start Into 2013

An aerial view of farmland affected by the drought in northeastern Colorado in July 2012. Green circles show irrigated crops next to yellowed, dryland wheat fields.
Courtesy Lance Cheung USDA

2012 was a drought year for the record books. It was the warmest year ever recorded in Des Moines, Iowa, Topeka, Kan., and Columbia, Mo. and the driest ever in Grand Island, Neb.

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Harvest Public Media
1:59 am
Mon December 24, 2012

How Much Is Organic Certification Worth?

Schnuck’s produce manager Dave Guthrie unpacks potatoes in the grocery’s Columbia, Mo., store produce department.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

The organic farming industry is booming. Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its federal organic certification program in 2002, the number of organic farms has more than doubled.

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Harvest Public Media
11:31 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Low Mississippi River Levels Could Leave Farmers In Fertilizer Crunch

A backhoe places a cover on a barge near Cape Girardeau, Mo. The backhoe had just finished removing fertilizer that was shipped up the river from New Orleans.
Jacob McCleland Harvest Public Media

Southbound barges on the Mississippi River carry grain destined for world markets.

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Harvest Public Media
1:57 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Drugged-Up Horsemeat From U.S. Showing Up In Europe

Silky Shark, a racehorse that earned over $100,000 during his racing career, was later slaughtered and exported to the European Union as food.
Ken Terpenning

Silky Shark was a beautiful animal and a successful race horse. Over the course of his career he earned over $100,000 for his Kentucky owner.

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America's Big Beef
7:42 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Beef Checkoff Feud Exposes Divide Within Cattle Industry

Allen Berry co-owns a cow-calf operation with his wife near Trenton, Mo. Like all other cow-calf operators, Berry pays into a fund that benefits the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board for each animal sold.
Credit Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

When Allen Berry brought his 11 yearlings to the Green City Livestock Market in central Missouri last month, he paid into a fund that at first blush, seems a bargain.

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America's Big Beef
7:36 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Beef Feedlots Grapple With Endless Waste

Allan Sents co-owns McPherson County Feeders, a beef feedlot in central Kansas, with his wife Deanna. His 11,000 cattle produce a lot of waste.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

You think you deal with a lot of bull crap? Allan Sents needs a front-end loader and a dump truck to deal with all the cattle manure he’s up against. Literally.

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America's Big Beef
5:12 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Judging A Cow By More Than Its Cover

Owner Rhett Lowderman and his team gather around his prize-winning Hereford, LCC Patton Kiwi 116 ET, which won the Reserve Grand and Champion Intermediate Female Award at the American Royal.
Frank Morris Harvest Public Media

Backstage behind the cattle pens at the giant livestock show at the American Royal in Kansas City, Mo., “cow fitter” Maddee Moore was awash in glamour goods.

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America's Big Beef
2:15 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Public Research For Private Interests

Dr. Dan Thomson, a Kansas State veterinary professor and director of the Beef Cattle Institute, holds a "Beef Quality Assurance" training at the Beef Fest in Emporia, Kan., in August.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

Agricultural colleges in the top five beef-producing states have become quasi-arms of the cattle industry, selling science to corporate bidders who set the research agenda with their dollars.

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Up to Date
10:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

America's Big Beef

Cow carcasses
Thomas Bjørkan

Just how much influence does Big Beef have in Cowtown?

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Harvest Public Media
1:01 pm
Sun December 9, 2012

Newspaper Series Faults Big Beef

Workers trim beef at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Dakota City, Neb.
Keith Myers The Kansas City Star

What should you know about the beef on your table? The Kansas City Star answered that question with a three-part series on the beef industry.

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Agriculture
2:35 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

New Reporting Series Covers 'America's Big Beef'

On Monday, Harvest Public Media launches a five-part series called "America’s Big Beef: An Industry in Transition." It's a deep dive into the big business of cattle.

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Agriculture
3:54 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Corn Belt Farmland: The Newest Real Estate Bubble?

This field is part of a 160-acre tract in Saline County, Mo., that sold for $10,700 per acre in February — double what it would have gone for five years ago.
Abby Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 5:02 pm

Howard Audsley has been driving through Missouri for the past 30 years to assess the value of farmland. Barreling down the flat roads of Saline County on a recent day, he stopped his truck at a 160-acre tract of newly tilled black land. The land sold in February for $10,700 per acre, double what it would have gone for five years ago.

Heading out into the field, Audsley picked up a clod of the dirt that makes this pocket of land some of the priciest in the state.

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Harvest Public Media
10:34 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Farmers Put Aside Differences, Push For Farm Bill

Supporters of the farm bill attend a rally organized by Farm Bill Now, a coalition of ag-related interest groups, in Washington D.C. Sept. 12.
National Milk Producers Federation Flickr

The farm bill expired Monday and lawmakers didn’t pass a new one, thanks largely to election-year politics.

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My Farm Roots
1:20 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

From Pastime To Passion

Aaron Troester farms about 5,000 irrigated acres in north-central Nebraska.
Hilary Stohs-Krause for Harvest Public Media

Aaron Troester’s life both did, and didn’t, turn out exactly the way he planned.

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My Farm Roots
12:11 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Grateful To Be Home

Rose Alderson and her husband Loren have farmed outside of Nickerson, Kan., for decades.
Frank Morris Harvest Public Media

Rose Alderson is a bright-eyed, energetic grandmother who loves her home a few miles outside of Nickerson, Kan.

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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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My Farm Roots
10:04 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Breaking Away From The Flock

Rhonda McClure raises sheep for wool on a small farm outside Wahoo, Neb., and uses some of the wool in fiber art projects.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Rhonda McClure seems to approach farming with a homesteader’s resourcefulness, but she adds her own modern flair.

McClure and her husband Don sell fleece and home spun yarn across the country. But Rhonda is also a quilter and fiber artist who uses the wool in her own creations.

McClure often has gone a different direction than the rest of the flock. In the 1970s she was one of just a handful of women attending ag classes at the University of Nebraska. Today, the small McClure sheep farm is an uncommon neighbor to corn and soybean fields.

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Harvest Public Media
3:03 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

What If Congress Doesn't Pass A Farm Bill?

Ed Greiman, a cattle producer and president-elect of the Iowa Cattlemen, climbs onto the front of a truck hauling silage on his ranch near Garner, Iowa. Like other ranchers, he's getting a feel for what life would be like without a farm bill.
Clay Masters Harvest Public Media

Roy Pralle is an 85-year-old retired farmer from Latimer, Iowa. He spends most afternoons playing cribbage with other retired farmers at Dudley's Corner, a diner attached to a gas station in north-central Iowa.

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