agriculture

River to River
3:24 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

The End of Session and Soil Conditions

Though it's difficult to say when the 2014 legislative term will end, lawmakers' per diem will run out on May 22.
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about developments surrounding the confidential settlements within Governor Branstad's administration and the end of the legislative session.

Also, planting season is right around the corner. Iowa State University agronomist and ISU Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor discusses soil conditions throughout Iowa.

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River to River
1:45 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

News Buzz: All-Vet, Farm Fatalities, Drones

Jen Hamilton-Emery

Today on News Buzz Ben Stanton fills in as host.  He tackles Iowa's All-Vet designation, farm accident fatalities and the use of drones in agriculture.

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News Buzz
2:22 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Cameras, Compromise, 'Codone, 'The Catch,' and Cold

A snow angel
Alan Light

In this 'News Buzz' edition of River to River, hear about new rules for traffic cameras in Iowa, a stopgap farm bill passed in the U.S. House, a new hydrocodone-related drug which is meeting opposition from Iowa's Attorney General, the Hawkeyes will meet LSU, and what's with the early bout of cold weather?

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River to River
2:13 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

News Buzz: Ethanol and Harvest Wrap Up

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline.
Stefanie Seskin

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline. As a renewable fuel ethanol reduces the amount of petroleum-based gasoline on the market and many farmers receive subsidies to grow corn for the biofuel. But now the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a reduction in the required amount of ethanol for the country's gasoline supply.  Harvest Public Media's Ames-based reporter Amy Mayer and host Ben Kieffer discuss the future of ethanol in the U.S.

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Talk of Iowa
2:59 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

How Americans Eat with Tracie McMillan

I-5 Design & Manufacture

Recent movements addressing the obesity epidemic or industrial agriculture's dominance attempt to change how Americans eat.  Tracie McMillan sets out to understand the American food system from the bottom-up in  her book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at WalMart, Applebees, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.”  Host Charity Nebbe asks McMillan where our food comes from and how we can eat healthier. 

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Talk of Iowa
1:48 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Preserving Iowa’s Freshwater Ecosystems

Iowa River
Alan Light Flickr

Since its beginning, the conservation movement has been focused on preserving the natural places we still have, but Joe Whitworth, president of the Freshwater Trust, says that is not good enough.  Host Charity Nebbe talks to Whitworth about his work restoring freshwater ecosystems, how he believes that clean water can co-exist with profitable agriculture, and the future of conservation.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:59 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Drought Conditions are Worsening Across the State

Many cornfields, like this one in Cedar County near Lisbon, Iowa are prematurely crisp because of expanding drought conditions.
Credit Dean Borg

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update shows drought worsening and spreading across  the state. The monitor’s report includes Iowa in a Midwest section badly needing rain.  

Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor says this week’s report is listing more of Iowa in a severe drought category.

“And it includes now almost all of the southern part of Iowa, and almost all of the central,” he says.

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River to River
4:04 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Invasive Species: Air and Water

Emerald Ash Borer in firewood
U.S. Forestry Service Region 5

The Emerald Ash Borer is spreading through Iowa.  It has now been found in Burlington.  Hear how the insect spreads and what is being done about it.  New rules are in effect for boaters on Iowa's waterways aimed at preventing the spread of invasive plants and animals.

Also, in the second half of the program, we talk about a Cuban baseball player that defected to the U.S. while in Des Moines.  And we wrap up the hour with a discussion about the weather and how Iowa's crops are reacting.

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River to River
3:41 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

News Review: Health, Ag, Sports, and Entertainment

From infectious disease to sports and entertainment, River to River host Ben Kieffer has a news roundup show.  He'll talk with the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health about recent outbreaks of cyclospora and West Nile virus. Also, hear a little sports: Iowa’s  Zach Johnson is competing as the defending champion at the John Deere Classic Golf Tournament in the Quad Cities, and many Iowans reacted to University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz being listed as one of the worst coaches by Sports Illustrated recently.

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River to River
1:33 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Horse Slaughter in Iowa

StooMathiesen

A business in Sigourney Iowa could be one of the first the nation to slaughter horses after a previous ban was allowed to expire.  Join Host Ben Kieffer to hear from the CEO of the company given approval by the USDA, and hear from two people with opposing views on the matter.  Also hear a little about the politics of this issue and the horse-meat labeling scandal that came to light earlier this year in Europe.

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River to River
4:05 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

The Farm Crisis

Farmers from across America marched for the second year in a row to protest against the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 1979. An old tractor is burned in effigy in protest.
USDA / National Archives and Records Administration

The farm crisis of the 1980s meant high interest rates; it’s estimated that farmland values dropped nearly 60 percent in some areas of the Midwest during the early '80s.  But it was not just an economic disaster.  A new documentary also tries to capture the personal stories. Guest host Ben Stanton talks with the producer of "The Farm Crisis" Laurel Bower Burgmaier.  Later in the show is an update to the flood-related weather outlook for Iowa, and hear about NPR's programing changes now in effect and how they will affect Iowa Public Radio.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:59 am
Fri June 21, 2013

House rejects farm bill

The Farm Bill rejected by the House would have cut $2 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. Many Republicans were hoping for more cuts, while many Democrats thought the cuts too onerous.
Credit 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.

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Talk of Iowa
3:38 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

The Future of SNAP

Pictured above are food coupon artifacts from the National Museum of American History. Upon purchase, grocers provided receipts of their own design, which costumers used for the next purchase.
the National Museum of American History--Smithsonian Institution Flickr

The farm bill is legislation is worth more than $90 billion. It deals with everything from farm subsidies to crop insurance; but over 80% of this massive outlay goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,) which was once called food stamps.  More than 45 million people depend on SNAP, especially since the economic downturn.  However, in the current versions of the bill both Democrats and Republicans are discussing cutting funds from the program. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Smithsonian plows into farming history

In the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History's staging area, curator Peter Liebhold shows off some of the artifacts he's been collecting from farms all over rural America for the museum's upcoming 'American Enterprise' exhibition.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. only get small glimpses of farming, such as a mural display of immigrant farmworkers planting crops in a 19th century California town. The museum once had an Agriculture Hall, but it was removed in 2006.

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Talk of Iowa
12:45 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Horticulture Day: Fresh Fish and Veggies

Flickr / Cara Harpole

Fish and fresh veggies make an appealing paring for dinner, but they can also be a great duo in the greenhouse.  Host Charity Nebbe discusses aquaponics, which is the growing of crops with nutrient rich waste water from fish farming.  Iowa State University Extension fisheries specialist Allen Pattillo and horticulturist Richard Jauron join the program.

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Talk of Iowa
1:57 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Women on the Farm: An Evolving Role

Flickr / cwwycoff1

Women have worked in agriculture since agriculture began, but for many years they were limited to supporting roles. Talk of Iowa seeks out women's voices in agriculture, through history and today.  Jenny Barker-Devine, author of "On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women's Activism since 1945" discusses how the roles of farm women changed during the 20th century.

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Talk of Iowa
3:54 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Preserving Iowa's Soil After Flooding

Erosion in an Iowa agricultural field, April 25, 2013.
Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

After two major flooding events for Iowa in 1993 and 2008, and a number of significant flooding events in-between, Iowans need to ask hard questions about how we have altered our environment.

Today on "Talk of Iowa" we talk about agricultural and urban flooding. We'll take a look at changes we've made to our landscape that has made it more prone to flooding.  We'll also discuss both the damage flooding can cause, and some innovative ways farmers, homeowners and city planners can prevent flooding or at least minimize the damage it can cause.

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Environment
8:13 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Are Iowa Fertilizer Plants at Risk?

Smoke rises as water is sprayed after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas.
Credit Mike Stone / Reuters

The deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas is prompting questions about regulatory oversight there.  In Iowa, officials say fertilizer is only produced at a handful of sites across the state, but many others store it.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman says the agency regulates 700 retail facilities in Iowa that store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, an ingredient that can be particularly volatile.

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Talk of Iowa
11:42 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Zachary Michael Jack with his new book "The Midwest Farmer's Daughter" at IPR's Iowa City studio.
Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

"Talk of Iowa" explores the roles of women on the farm in history, literature, popular culture and the present.  We talk with Zachary Michael Jack, author of "The Midwest Farmer's Daughter: In Search of an American Icon." Also joining the conversation, Cheryl Tevis of Iowa Women In Agriculture, and Denise O'Brien, founder of the

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Statehouse and Politics
6:54 am
Mon April 1, 2013

A new frontier in genetically engineered food

The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to approve AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon for the U.S. market.
Credit Courtesy Barrett & MacKay Photography Inc.

Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:04 am
Fri March 22, 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.

And everything gets a label.

“No antibiotics added, raised without added hormones, all natural, minimally processed," Glenn Brandt, the production manager for Swiss Meat, reads from a hefty roll of hickory smoked beef sausage stickers.

What this label does not indicate, however, is whether or not the sausage contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

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River to River
2:43 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

The Future of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Flickr / QinetiQ group

Often when we hear about unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, it pertains to military strikes and surveillance.  However unmanned aerial vehicle technology is bringing UAVs into our everyday lives right here in Iowa.   Today on "River to River" we explore the domestic uses of UAVs.

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Environment
7:52 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Does Drought Have an Upside?

Snus Hill Winery is already bottling some white wine from the 2012 grape harvest, which was improved by the dry weather.
Sarah McCammon IPR

Over the past several months, we’ve been reporting on lots of problems caused by a lack of rain. And for good reason – the historic drought plaguing Iowa and much of the nation has dried up crops, destroyed landscaping, and killed off fish.

But like with most things, there can be a silver lining.

John Larson makes wine at Snus Hill Winery in Madrid, Iowa. This time of year, he’s not growing grapes – but he is mixing wine in giant, silver tanks.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
12:12 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

When Conservation Pays

Lindsey Price and father Bob Price look out on the land of their Gracie Creek Ranch near Burwell, in central Nebraska.The Price family recently sold the largest conservation easement in Nebraska history, covering about 40 square miles.
Credit Hilary Stohs-Krause/NET News

Along the winding road to and through Grace Creek Ranch, a 25,537-acre yearling cattle ranch in central Nebraska, there are no houses in sight – no buildings, for that matter. Just acres and acres of gold and amber grass, punctuated by patches of sand and lines of barbed wire fence.

And that’s the way the owners of Gracie Creek Ranch want it to stay.  Lindsey Price, a fourth-generation rancher, her brother Aaron and their father Bob recently sold the largest conservation easement in Nebraska history, covering about 40 square miles.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
8:37 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Drought Update: Iowa Soil Still Drier Than Normal

This summer's drought damaged crops across the region.
Credit Tom Woodward / Flickr

     

Like many Midwestern states, Iowa is closing the 2012 calendar year with soil moisture deficits after this summer's drought. But with the new crop year at least four months away, Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor is seeing some spotty

Taylor credits abundant fall rains with helping mitigate the drought, at least for now.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
8:01 am
Thu December 27, 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.
Credit Jacob McCleland

Southbound barges on the Mississippi River carry grain destined for world markets. Those barges regularly pass northbound tows with thousands of tons of fertilizer heading to Midwestern ports and, later, to farmers’ fields.

But this year’s drought is adding an element of uncertainty to those shipping patterns, as Mississippi River levels reach record lows. Water levels have fertilizer shippers scrambling to get their product to market before low water dries up their most important shipping route.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:03 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Kris Kringle's Tree Farm owner Danny Moulds stands among the thousands of trees lost to the drought
Pat Blank

Danny Moulds owns Kris Kringle’s Trees just north of Cedar Falls. He says the hot dry summer took a harsh toll on newly planted seedlings. He says he lost around 15 thousand Christmas  trees on his 46 acre farm.

Had those young trees survived they would have been ready for harvest in 2019. Because the drought was so widespread, Iowa Department of Natural Resources District Forester Mark Vitosh says it may be harder to find the more popular varieties in the future.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
4:58 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

In the food wars, opposing sides take their message across the aisles

Farmer Paul Willis at his free range hog farm in Thornton, Iowa.
Credit Sandhya Dirks / IPR

Debate surrounding what we eat and how it’s made is nothing new, but in this year of outcry over pink slime, criticism regarding gestation crates and questions about the value of organic food, the various sides are reaching out in new ways and new places. Even when the opposing camps actually speak with each other, though, middle ground is still proving hard to find.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:13 am
Tue November 13, 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 last year. Now this land is selling for around $13,000.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

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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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
2:31 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Ethanol debate looks beyond short term gain

Josh Alexander stands next to a pile of distillers grain at his family’s feedlot near Pilger, Neb.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Livestock producers want to press pause on the federal mandate for corn-based ethanol. They’re seeking relief from corn prices pushed up by the drought. But as Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock reports, this short-term debate has broader implications. 

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