Amy Mayer

Reporter

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also  previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth.  She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times,  Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Since the spring of 2008, Amy has served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio.

Amy has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Wellesley College and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Amy’s favorite public radio program is The World.

Pages

Environment
2:19 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

ISU Gets New Boilers for Cleaner Power

A boiler that will use natural gas to generate power at Iowa State University sits on the trailer that hauled it from the train yard in Boone to the Ames campus.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Three new natural gas-powered boilers are moving Iowa State University closer to compliance with new federal environmental regulations.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
10:49 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Farmers' Farm Bill Decisions Will Influence Price Tag

Michael Johnson grows corn and soybeans in Kanawha and says the best farm bill safety net program for his farm is Agriculture Risk Coverage.
Amy Mayer/IPR

When farmers lose 15 to 25 percent of their crop, it hurts. And it’s not likely to be covered by crop insurance, which covers greater losses.

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Education
5:00 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Computer Coding Complements Common Core

In the computer lab at Abbie Sawyer Elementary in Ames, fifth graders develop coding skills.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Children today are immersed in technology. Often, they are passive consumers. But in some schools, even kindergarteners are learning computer programming.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:13 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Bring Back the Bacon: Hog Virus Slowing

Healthy hogs that made it to market last year fetched a high price. But millions of piglets were lost to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Bacon and pork chops could become cheaper this year thanks, in part, to fewer pigs getting sick with the virus that devastated hog farms in 2014.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
9:28 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Obama Proposes More Funding to Fight Superbugs

Iowa State's Hans Coetzee says increased funding for veterinary research on antibiotic use on the farm will be welcome.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

In the budget President Obama is sending to Congress he’s asking for more than a billion dollars to combat antibiotic resistance, and some of that money would focus on animal agriculture.

Antibiotic resistance can make common medications ineffective, meaning sick people don’t get better and doctors have fewer options to treat bacterial infections.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Poultry Industry Worried by Bird Flu Outbreak

The turkeys in this barn on Noel Thompson’s farm in central Iowa are tested routinely for disease, including avian influenza. No bird flu has been found in the commercial poultry industry in this country.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Since a highly contagious strain of bird flu was found in the U.S. in December, many countries have closed their doors to American poultry.

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Statehouse and Politics
7:54 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Ernst Gives Response to State of the Union

Iowa's junior senator, Republican Joni Ernst, pictured at the statehouse on Friday, gave her party's response to the State of the Union.
John Pemble/IPR

The annual State of the Union address last night offered a national spotlight for Iowa’s junior senator.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:59 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Water Works Lawsuit Disappoints Ag Groups

Conservation practices, such as this wetland in Boone County, can help reduce nutrient runoff and prevent erosion. They are mostly voluntary.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

A group representing many Iowa farmers is decrying the Des Moines Water Works’ decision to sue three Iowa counties over water quality.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
12:17 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

West Coast Labor Dispute Hitting Midwest

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the transit point for conatiners carrying goods into the United States and across the Pacific.
Corey Seeman/Flickr

An ongoing labor dispute at the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is starting to impact Iowa.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed December 17, 2014

What's Behind the "Non-GMO" Label?

In a lab at Food Chain ID in Fairfield, technician Tammy Raman works with samples that will be tested to determine if they contain any genetic modifications.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Demand for products that don’t contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:47 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Report: Obama's Immigration Action Won't Help Agriculture Much

Harvesting produce is a seasonal job employing more immigrants in other regions than in the Midwest.
Big Stock Photo

new report says President Obama’s executive action on immigration likely won’t have a huge impact on Midwest agriculture. 

Stephanie Mercier, who wrote the report for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, says the presidential order does not address the needs of Midwest employers. They often want year-round temporary workers, something current law does not permit.

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Science and Technology
12:42 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Renewable Materials Research Gets Government, Industry Funding

These are some samples of bioplastic and biocomposite products developed at Iowa State University.
courtesy of Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites

With cellulosic ethanol now being produced in Iowa, researchers at Iowa State University hope to convert some of the by-products into useful renewable materials. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri December 5, 2014

At USDA, Vilsack's Longest-Serving Secretary Since 1969

Tom Vilsack travels all over, but frequently returns to Iowa. He’s shown here in Ames in the summer of 2013 pushing for support of the farm bill.
Amy Mayer/IPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture touches Americans from the field to the cafeteria, with a bevy of programs that include subsidies for farmers and for school lunches. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Climate Change Could Send Cost of Crop Insurance Soaring

Taxpayers subsidize crop insurance for farmers, and the expense is predicted to soar by mid-century as the climate changes.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Climate change could double losses to crops and property by the year 2100 according to a recent report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. 

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News
1:33 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Sen. Grassley: Congress Has December to Act on Taxes

New machinery like this Case IH combine is more affordable when farmers can depreciate up to $500,000 in equipment expenses. But that tax provision has not yet been extended for 2014.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Several dozen tax provisions remain unsettled as Congress returns home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:23 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Who Stole the Beans?

A farmer harvests soybeans in 2013. This year, an unknown driver combined 18 acres of an Illinois soybean field without permission. A criminal investigation is ongoing.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

It may not be a classic “Whodunnit” but the mystery of who stole soybeans from a field in western Illinois certainly has intrigue.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Promised Farm Bill Savings Look Elusive Today

Paul Sauter pulls two wagons full of corn into the Heartland Coop elevator in Alleman.
Amy Mayer/IPR

The Farm Bill enacted earlier this year was supposed to save taxpayers money, in part by reducing subsidy payments to farmers.

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2014 Elections
4:46 am
Wed October 29, 2014

1st District Voter Map

The Julien Dubuque Bridge, which connects Dubuque to East Dubuque, IL over the Mississippi River.
Credit SD Dirk

Iowa's 1st Congressional District covers northeast Iowa, and includes the cities of Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo.

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2014 Elections
4:45 am
Wed October 29, 2014

2nd District Voter Map

Iowa City's pedestrian mall, which sits adjacent to the University of Iowa campus.
Credit Alan Light

Iowa City, Davenport, Burlington and Ottumwa are the major population centers in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.   

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2014 Elections
4:45 am
Wed October 29, 2014

3rd District Voter Map

Skyline of Des Moines, Polk County's largest city and the capitol of Iowa. Polk County is the 3rd Congressional District's most populous county. It is also the only county in the district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans.
Jason Mrachina

Iowa's 3rd Congressional District contains 16 counties in the southwest quadrant of the state.

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2014 Elections
4:44 am
Wed October 29, 2014

4th District Voter Map

Loess Hills in Harrison County.
Credit Kevin Palmer

The 4th District covers the most area, but contains the fewest people of Iowa's four congressional districts. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
12:41 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Ag Careers an Opportunity Few Latinos Pursue

High school senior Melissa Garcia Rodriguez has managed the barn at the Des Moines ag campus for the past two summers.
Amy Mayer/IPR

In a dimly-lit lab on the Des Moines public schools’ agricultural science campus, students in aprons, safety goggles and plastic gloves poke and probe chicken wings. About 15 girls and just one boy in this vet careers class are looking for ligaments, tendons, cartilage and other features of this animal part that teenagers more often experience cooked and covered in barbecue sauce.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
10:58 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Young Immigrants Search for Home on the Farm

Dutch immigrant Teun Boelen works with his family on a dairy farm they bought after selling the family land in The Netherlands.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Bear Creek Dairy in Brooklyn, Iowa, is home to more than 1,100 cows, who provide about 100,000 pounds of milk each day.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:47 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

USDA to Ask Corn Growers about Fertilizer, Pesticide Use

The Agricultural Resource Management Survey will soon poll about 300 Iowa corn growers on their use of chemical inputs.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Several hundred Iowa corn farmers will soon be asked to share their fertilizer and pesticide use with the US Department of Agriculture. 

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Education
2:51 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Consultants Offer Board of Regents More Cost-Saving Suggestions

Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says saving money is critical for keeping tuition from increasing.
Amy Mayer/IPR

The Iowa Board of Regents has several new proposals to consider in its effort to save money across the three state university campuses.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:18 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Grassley: Waters of the US factor in Iowa Senate Race

US Senator Chuck Grassley opposes an EPA proposal that he says would expand the reach of the Clean Water Act onto some farm fields. The EPA says the rule will help streams, like this one in Boone County.
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says the proposed Waters of the United States rule could influence voters in November's midterm elections. The Environmental Protection Agency wants to expand the Clean Water Act, to the protests of many in agriculture.

Grassley says the record of Democratic senate candidate Bruce Braley, who currently serves in the U.S. House, may hinder his chances.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Technology, Infrastructure Reduce Food Waste on the Farm

On-farm and post-harvest loss accounts for about 40 percent of food waste in the developing world, according to the U.N. But it is credited with relatively small levels of waste in most industrialized countries.
Amy Mayer/IPR

On a wet, grey day in Grinnell, Iowa, the rain beats a rhythm on the metal roof of a packing shed at Grinnell Heritage Farm. Crew member Whitney Brewer picks big bunches of kale out of a washing tank, lets them drip on a drying table and then packs them into cardboard boxes.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:40 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Everything Agriculture on Display at Farm Progress Show

Yellow hay rakes drew attention to the New Holland exhibit at the Farm Progress Show in Boone Tuesday.
Amy Mayer/IPR

A burst of colorful farm machinery is surrounded by demonstration fields at the Central Iowa Expo in Boone this week. The Farm Progress Show is attracting thousands of farmers, agronomists and agribusiness representatives. It’s an annual trade event that alternates between the Iowa site and Decatur, Illinois.  

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The Salt
4:23 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

High Prices Aren't Scaring Consumers Away From The Meat Counter

Meat is displayed in a case at a grocery store in Miami in July. Pork and beef prices are up more than 11 percent since last summer.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 7:41 pm

You may have noticed when grilling steaks or hot dogs this summer that they cost more than they did last year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pork and beef prices are up more than 11 percent since last summer.

Supply and demand determine price, and the pork supply comes from places like Riley Lewis' hog farm near Forest City, Iowa.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Art Tangoes Over Time with Ag

Beekeeper Julia McGuire fits a veil on photographer Marji Guyler-Alaniz before they approach a hive.
Amy Mayer/IPR

  In a living room converted to a theater for the evening, Ethan Peterson and Madeleine Russell portray the characters from Mary Swander’s play, “VANG.” In it, the actors share the emotional stories of four immigrant couples who farm in Iowa. Swander used transcriptions of conversations with Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese and Dutch farmers to create the play.

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