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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Central Standard
9:29 am
Wed March 28, 2012

Farm & Food Controversies With Harvest Public Media

Still image from a recent Chipotle commercial.

On this Wednesday's Central Standard, a look at the role of semantics when we discuss industrial agriculture. What does it mean when we say pink slime vs. lean beef trimming? Biotech vs. GMO?

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Harvest Public Media
11:52 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Digest This: Food Controversies

Join Harvest Public Media for a live talk show and discussion on food production Friday at 4 p.m. CST.

We all eat.

That means we all have a stake in how food is produced. And many of us also have strong opinions.

Even if you don’t spend much time thinking about what you eat, it’s pretty hard to ignore the constant, polarizing food fights — which are often the subject of television commercials, books and movies.

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Harvest Public Media
8:29 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Climate Change And Regulations Worry Farmers

A worker at Dixon Ridge Walnuts in Lodi, Calif., prunes a tree.
Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

No matter your personal opinion on the subject, talk of climate usually conjures up images of warming, floods and rising sea levels.  Those are the ecological changes predicted from coast to coast.

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Agriculture
11:56 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Gleaning Farmers' Fields For The Hungry

Phil Roeder Flickr

On this Tuesday's Central Standard, learn about an area organization that gleans sweet corn fields, apple orchards, and more, transporting fresh fruits and vegetables to the hungry in our area.

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Harvest Public Media
2:59 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Food Industry Courts Meat-Eating Vegetarians

"Vegetarian chicken" made by Savage River Farms, front, certainly looks like regular cooked chicken, back.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

Some vegetarian food is getting a makeover. It's being made to look, feel and taste more like meat.

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Tracking NBAF
9:50 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Opponents Of High-Security Lab In Manhattan Gain Steam

Signs outside the site.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

Opponents of a controversial Kansas lab designed to study and combat biological diseases have recently found new energy, as work on the Department of Homeland Security project stalled.

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Harvest Public Media
11:41 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Assessing The Additives

Jill Lucht, of Columbia, Mo., reads the ingredient lists on the food in her refrigerator.
Jessica Naudziunas Harvest Public Media

Pick up your favorite packaged food and read the ingredient list. If you stumbled over any of the words or a color jumped out at you, you might be looking at what’s known as a food additive.

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Harvest Public Media
10:07 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Biomass Or Bust: Kansas Ethanol Plant Seeks Higher Ground

Corn stalks, leaves and cobs like these at the Kansas State Southwest Research and Extension Center in Garden City, Kan., can be harvested as biomass.
Eric Durban Harvest Public Media

Drive by a field that’s ready for biomass harvest and you’ll think you’re too late. The grain is gone and it’s just broken stalks and leaves everywhere.

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Harvest Public Media
9:08 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Selling Doctors On Rural Communities

Dr. Dan Shuman moved his practice to rural Ashland, Kan., in part because he is encouraged to take time off for missionary work.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

Recruiting doctors to small towns is a chronic problem. Most places try to lure a physician by rolling out the red carpet with a big salary, a home on a golf course or other cushy perks.

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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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Tracking NBAF
4:58 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Safety Concerns Aired At NBAF Hearing

The proposed NBAF lab at in Manhattan, Kan., would guard the nation's food supply against diseases like bird flu and Mad Cow disease.

A committee of the National Research Council visited Kansas State University Friday to get a feel for safety concerns for a giant biosafety lab planned for the Manhattan, Kan., campus.

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Harvest Public Media
3:38 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Antitrust Official Gets Stampeded By Big Beef

At sale barns, like this one in Kingsville, Mo., cattlemen still bid openly for breeding stock. Meatpackers once bought on the open market, too.
Frank Morris for NPR

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 9:34 am

Dudley Butler is quitting his job tomorrow. Never heard of him? He's President Obama's appointee to run the division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that governs antitrust issues in the meat industry. He was part of a cadre of high-level bureaucrats charged to expose and fight agribusiness monopolies. In fact, he was the last of that group.

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Tracking NBAF
3:24 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Study Outlines Economic Impact Of NBAF Lab

A new report says NBAF -- the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility -- could create 1300 jobs during the construction phase alone.

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Tracking NBAF
8:33 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Questions Loom For Future Of High-Security Lab At K-State

The site designated to become the home of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, is on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.
Eric Durban Harvest Public Media

It’s been three years since the Department of Homeland Security chose Kansas as the site of its National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, but there’s a growing sense that the project has a precarious future.

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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
8:50 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Selling Healthy Eating In The Aisles

Cassie McLellan, a registered dietician, advises customers at the HyVee store in Columbia, Mo., on their grocery purchases.
Jessica Naudziunas Harvest Public Media

Walk into your neighborhood grocery store looking for healthy food and you might get lost amid a sea of confusing labels and dubious claims. Consumers looking to eat right may get the wrong ideas.

HyVee, like many grocery chains, is trying to part that sea and simplify nutrition for consumers who may not want to read the fine print on their food.

At HyVee stores, you’ll find NuVal. It’s a scoring system on a scale of 1 to 100. The healthier the food, the higher the score.

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Harvest Public Media
9:06 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Liberal Arts Degrees Grow Jobs At ConAgra

ConAgra is behind giant brands like Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice and Orville Redenbacher.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
12:59 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Surprise! Corn Stocks Are Up

Grain bins sit on the edge of a harvested corn field in western Kansas.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
10:48 am
Fri January 13, 2012

USDA Defends Cost-Cutting Plan

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack details the USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service plan at the American Farm Bureau conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan. 9.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
3:15 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

North Kansas City Demolishes Mill; Area Ready For Development

Work crews start to demolish the old ADM mill building on Armour Road in North Kansas City, January 11, 2012.
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.

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Up to Date
1:36 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Nutrition Facts: What Do Those Labels Mean?

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. 

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Harvest Public Media
8:40 am
Tue January 10, 2012

USDA Announces Closure Of 259 Facilities

Soil scientist Eton Codling examines a South Dakota corn field.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
2:48 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

FDA Puts New Limit On Antibiotics In Livestock

Cows on Sally Angell's farm in Missouri eat feed without antibiotics.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
9:21 am
Thu January 5, 2012

After MF Global Crisis, Farmers May Hedge On Hedging

Traders in the wheat futures trading pit at the Kansas City Board of Trade signal each other in September 2010. The KCBOT and Chicago Mercantile Exchange host two of the country's largest commodities markets.
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.

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Headlines
7:10 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Top Of The Morning News: Thursday, January 5, 2012

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.

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Harvest Public Media
9:10 am
Tue January 3, 2012

Republicans On The Farm

Harvest Public Media
9:24 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Calorie Counts: Coming Soon To A Restaurant Near You

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.

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Harvest Public Media
9:51 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Fracking's New Angle In Kansas

A natural gas drill high on a hilltop over Marcellus Shale deposits in the eastern U.S. Shale-gas production is booming across the country, driven in part by the expanded use of a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
10:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Local Poultry Producers In A Bind

Ron Bartlet feeds the ducks he keeps on his small Iowa farm.
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.  

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