Jeremy Bernfeld

Flickr / TumblingRun

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to boost the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s fuel supply under new rules issued Wednesday . The EPA finalized the rules governing ethanol production, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), for 2017, adding about 1.2 billion gallons in total renewable fuel. That’s an increase of about 6 percent year-over-year. The RFS sets the amount of biofuels -- mostly coming from corn ethanol -- that oil refiners must blend into their fuels. The 2017...

Trump: John Pemble/IPR file photo, Clinton: Clay Masters/IPR file photo

While the third and final presidential debate set for Wednesday evening will surely be marked by the candidates' disagreements, a forum debating their positions on food and farm issues Wednesday morning was notable for showcasing where the nominees agree. At a Washington, D.C. forum produced by the agricultural policy group Farm Foundation , surrogates for the Trump and Clinton campaigns presented their candidates' takes on farm and food issues from trade to taxes. Sam Clovis, a campaign co...

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Midwest farmers may be facing some of the toughest financial times they have experienced in three decades, largely thanks to low prices for some of the region's biggest crops. The average net farm income for farmers in Kansas, for instance, plummeted in 2015 to just $4,568, according to a report released this week by the Kansas Farm Management Association (KFMA). The figure is less than 5 percent of the previous year's average of $128,731. The 2015 KFMA report measures the average net farm...

Harvest Public Media file photo by Stephanie Paige Ogburn/KUNC

Hundreds of thousands of people go to work each day preparing the beef, pork and poultry that ends up on our dinner tables. Their workplace is among the most dangerous in the United States. Fatalities are high and life-long injuries are common. Between 2004-2013, 151 meat and poultry workers were killed on the job, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report . The furious pace of production may also contribute to elevated levels of repetitive motion injuries like carpal...

Photo by Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Thursday was not the day to switch places with Chris Grundler. Grundler , the director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was in charge of the EPA's one in-person hearing about proposed changes to U.S. ethanol policy . More than 250 people signed up to speak at the hearing, forcing organizers to open a second room to record testimony. Thousands more will add comments online. But at the start of the day, Grundler told the crowd that he...

Melissa Wiese/Flickr

Food giant General Mills is recalling millions of pounds of flour milled in Kansas City, Missouri, on suspicions that the product is contaminated by a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria. Thirty-eight people in 20 states have been infected in the outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Ten have been hospitalized. An ongoing investigation by local, state and federal health authorities determined that General Mills' facility in northeast Kansas City is a...

Harvest Public Media file photo by Grant Gerlock

The federal government has wiped off the books the controversial law that required grocery stores to label cuts of pork and beef with their country of origin. The rules around Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) require retailers to note where the animal that produced cuts of meat was born, raised and slaughtered. The World Trade Organization, however, said last year that the labels were an unfair trade barrier for meat producers in other countries. Congress repealed mandatory labeling on beef...

Don Graham/Flickr

Cuts to the crop insurance program will again be a talking point on Capitol Hill. The budget drafted by President Obama and released Tuesday would make cuts to the crop insurance system, allocate more funds for agricultural research and fund the summer program that provides free meals to children. The decrease in crop insurance subsidies would amount to a savings of $18 billion over ten years, according to the Department of Agriculture's summary of the budget ( PDF ). The crop insurance...

Food safety regulators are hoping new rules will reduce the number of Americans sickened by salmonella bacteria found on the chicken they eat. Currently, salmonella is estimated to cause about 1 million illnesses a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is cracking down on the amount of salmonella it will allow on certain poultry products. Poultry companies will be required to keep incidences of salmonella to under 15 percent of the chicken parts they produce under new standards released...

NIAID

Regulators are taking aim at foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella. The Department of Agriculture has been able to cut the amount of salmonella found on whole chickens. Now it’s putting in place stricter limits on the amount of bacteria it will allow on cut-up chicken parts and on ground chicken and turkey. “I think it makes the industry look at things in a different way and say we’ve made progress in one aspect of the production and processing, now we need to make progress in some of...

Harvest Public Media file photo by Eric Durban

Worried about the price of wheat on the global market, Midwest farmers are planting less. Nationwide, farmers seeded about 5 million fewer acres in wheat this planting season than they did two years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Winter Wheat Seedings Report ( PDF ) issued Tuesday. Varieties of winter wheat, which is mostly grown in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Montana, make up the lion's share of U.S. wheat production. Declining planting numbers...

Harvest Public Media file photo by Grant Gerlock

Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs on more than $1 billion-worth of U.S. goods as a way to compensate for losses brought on by a U.S. labeling law. The World Trade Organization set the level of retaliation Monday, the final step in a long-running dispute over the Country-Of-Origin-Labels, or COOL, policy. As of 2009, retailers must include on meat a label that states where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Meat companies have to track and label products, and Canada and Mexico...

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. fuel supply will go up under new rules issued Monday. In releasing the details of the Renewable Fuel Standard , the policy that sets the amount of biofuels oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it planned to continue to increase the proportion of renewable fuels, most of which is comprised of corn ethanol. Ethanol policy is a hot-button issue in farm states, as it is both a major element of the...

To the chagrin of some of the nation's largest farm organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday forged ahead with a plan to oversee more of the nation's waterways, saying it will enforce new pollution rules in all but 13 states covered by an ongoing court case. On the day the so-called "Waters of the U.S." rules, or WOTUS, were set to go into effect, the EPA stuck to the deadline, despite a court order issued late Thursday. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson put a temporary...

Harvest Public Media file photo by Kristofor Husted

Some of the nation's largest farm groups are cheering after a federal judge blocked implementation Thursday of new rules governing water pollution. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a preliminary injunction delaying the rules, which had been set to take effect Friday, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped its bounds. Thirteen states sued the agency, seeking to prevent implementation, and Erickson said the "states are likely to succeed in their claim." The...

Photo by Amy Mayer/IPR file

Farmers could be temporarily prohibited from applying pesticides at certain times of the year if proposed new environmental regulations are adopted. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed limiting the application of what it calls “acutely toxic pesticides” during times when flowers are in bloom and in areas where farmers have paid for bees to help pollinate their crops. Commercial beekeeping hives account for about 90 percent of the nation’s bees, according to an expert...

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

A highly contagious strain of bird flu has officially made its way to the Midwest. The disease was confirmed Tuesday in two separate commercial turkey flocks in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA . Investigators also found an infected flock in Arkansas, the USDA said Wednesday ( PDF ). Arkansas is the nation’s third-largest turkey producer and the home of the world’s largest chicken company, Tyson Foods. The virus, called H5N2 Avian Influenza, is not a...

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media file photo

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it won’t release rules for how much ethanol oil refiners have to mix in to our gasoline supply this year. The ethanol rules, called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), are meant to prop up the U.S. biofuels industry by creating demand for ethanol. Without the rules, both oil companies and the biofuel sector will be left in the dark as to what the demand for ethanol will be. The RFS is also a big deal for Midwest farmers, as ethanol...

Lauren Tucker/Flickr

Monsanto has agreed to settle some of the lawsuits brought by U.S. farmers who allege they lost money when an Oregon field was discovered to have been contaminated with an experimental genetically modified strain of wheat. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States is genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming . But in May 2013, the Agriculture Department announced that plant samples from a wheat field in Oregon indicated the presence of wheat that...

Creative Commons

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear. With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs, lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie. From major financial institutions (Wells Fargo & Company) to Taco Bell (Yum! Brands) to Midwest farmers (the National Corn Growers Association), outside groups spent big bucks to shape national...

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Farm stands and farmers markets remain really important for many local farmers, but U.S. consumers barely buy any food directly from farms. That’s why local farmers are trying to crack in to the big institutional markets such as grocery stores, work cafeterias, schools and hospitals. Local food sales numbers are hard to come by, but direct-to-consumer sales accounted for just .8 percent of food agricultural sales in 2007 , the year with data that U.S. Department of Agriculture reports usually...

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media file photo

Food doesn’t just come from a grocery store. Millions of farmers spend their lives producing the crops and raising the livestock that we eat and use. So it makes sense: If you’re interested in what’s on your plate, you’re interested in what’s going on in the field. With that in mind, here are four things you should know about today’s food system: The new farm bill became law in February The Agriculture Act of 2014 was years in the making and it makes big changes to farm and food policy . The...

The House on Wednesday passed a new five-year compromise farm bill. The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote. The farm bill — the result of a two-year-long legislative saga — remains massive. The bill contains about $500 billion in funding, most of which is pegged to the food stamp program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But the farm bill, as you might expect, also charts agricultural policy for the nation's farmers. And the farm programs within...

The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists. Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America. Ogle's...

Amy Mayer/IPR

The farm bill expired at midnight on Monday, leaving farmers and ranchers across the country guessing at what federal farm policy will look like when they next put their crops in the ground. Of course, theyre used to uncertainty, as this is the second straight year Congress has let the farm bill expire. Last year, farmers were set adrift for three months before lawmakers passed a nine-month extension of older policy in January. Last time, the upcoming presidential election seemed largely to...

Amy Mayer/IPR

The Iowa, Missouri and Illinios state fairs all wrap up this weekend. Couldn't visit them all? Get a glimpse here. http://youtu.be/41ONhOSCCTI

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House passed its version of farm bill legislation Thursday. The revamped bill strips out funding for food aid and deals only with farm policy, exposing a hefty rift in decades-old alliances between urban and rural legislators and between food aid and farm policy interests. Now, that alliance has been battered. “Agriculture has joined many of the other topics that are discussed in Congress in becoming a partisan debate of policy,” said Chad Hart, an economist with Iowa State...

tpsdav/pixabay

In a stunning move, the U.S. House voted against approving farm bill legislation Thursday, leaving the bill's future up in the air. The House rejected the farm bill on a final tally of 234-195 after a day of dramatic, tight votes on amendments to the bill. Facing a raft of challenges from all sides – from liberal Democrats objecting to the levels of cuts to the food stamp program to conservative Republicans charging the bill is too expensive – the farm bill always faced a rocky road in the...

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Had a hamburger lately? The cow it came from likely passed through a feedlot – a huge farm that fattens cattle before they’re slaughtered. The thousands of cattle housed at a feedlot produce tons and tons of waste and if it’s not properly disposed, it could lead to an environmental disaster. In Part 3 of Harvest Public Media’s series, America’s Big Beef , Jeremy Bernfeld reports.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

Head to your local filling station and you might see a new blend of gas at the pump. After a three-year regulatory process, the Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 – gas made with 15 percent ethanol – this summer. Most gas we pump is already blended with ethanol, sometimes it contains as much as 10 percent, but the ethanol industry fought hard to bring E15 to the market. For ethanol backers and the farmers who feed the ethanol industry, getting drivers to pump gas with 50 percent...

Pages