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

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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Education
2:11 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

ISU's Annual Veishea Celebration Is No More

At a press conference in the Memorial Union, Iowa State president Steven Leath announced that Veishea is over for good.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa State University will no longer have a campus-wide, student-run celebration each spring. ISU President Steven Leath spent months meeting with a task force considering the future of Veishea.

"I’m announcing today that Veishea is ended," he said at a press conference Thursday, "and the name Veishea is retired."

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Mixed Reception for Poultry Inspection Rules

ISU animal science professor Dong Ahn says consumers could benefit from mandatory microbial testing in the new poultry inspection rule, intended to reduce foodborne illnesses.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Change is coming to the poultry industry, but not everyone is happy about it.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:26 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Forensics for the Farm Keep Food Safe

Hans Coetzee, a professor at the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine, says forensic testing can offer farmers and veterinarians reassurance that nothing unwanted is in milk, meat or feed.
Amy Mayer/IPR

TV shows like “CSI” have made forensics a hot topic, spawning books and even science programs for kids. The same technology used at crime scenes to link a stray hair to a suspect can also find antibiotics or other medications in milk and meat. And the use of sophisticated testing is becoming increasingly available for livestock producers, who stand to lose lots of money if their products are tainted.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 24, 2014

My Farm Roots: Carrying On A Farm Family Legacy

For four generations, Riley Lewis’ family has farmed a plot of land near Forest City, Iowa. Lewis currently raises corn, soybeans and hogs with his son, the fifth generation.
Amy Mayer/IPR

In his home in Forest City, Iowa, Riley Lewis has the original warranty deed for his farm, signed by President James Buchanan and issued to one Elias Gilbert, a soldier who served in the War of 1812.

“He moved here, northeast of Forest City, and lived there for one year,” Lewis said, which was the obligation veterans had if they homesteaded. “And then he sold it to Robert Clark, who was the founder of Forest City.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:25 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Acres of GMO Corn Nearly Double in a Decade

The USDA reports that 93 percent of the corn planted in the United States contains a genetically modified trait.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that over 90 percent of U.S. field corn is genetically modified, meaning the seeds have been embedded with a gene—usually from a bacteria—that  protects the corn from pests or herbicides.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:00 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

EPA Promotes Water Rule to Farmers

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks to reporters at Heffernan Farm in Missouri this week.
Kris Hustead/Harvest Public Media

   

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is touring farm country, trying to assure farmers that the agency isn’t asking for more authority over farmers and ranchers’ lands.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Palmer Amaranth Begins March Through Iowa

In Muscatine County, farmer Roger Hargrafen is doing all he can to eradicate the Palmer amaranth that emerged on his farm last year.
Amy Mayer/IPR

A fast spreading, crop destroying weed may be coming to the farms near you.

Palmer amaranth, which has plagued southern farms for decades, has been marching across the Midwest. It can decimate a crop. It can withstand many common herbicides. And it can cost farmers millions.

Roger Hargrafen, a farmer in Muscatine County, Iowa, is on the front lines in the battle against Palmer amaranth. His is one of four Iowa farms confirmed as having it.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Hunger Help from the Heartland

Kurt Rosentrater keeps bins of various types of feed in his lab at Iowa State. Characteristics such as size and sponginess tell him what type of diet the feed is for, while the smell hints at the ingredients.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Global hunger has no easy answer.

But as part of a partnership with the federal government called Feed the Future, researchers at land-grant universities are trying new approaches to the decades-old dilemma.

“The world’s poorest people, and hungriest people, generally, the majority of them are small farmers living in rural areas,” said Tjada D’oyen McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future. “And agriculture is the most effective means of bringing them out of poverty and under-nutrition.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:16 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Congress OKs River System Improvement Bill

Farmers are hopeful improvements are coming to the Midwest river system, which is crucial for shipping grain, in the form of the Waterways Resource Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).

After years of work on the bill, Congress recently smashed together separate bills passed by each chamber and sent the White House a new $12.3 billion water infrastructure bill with bipartisan support. President Obama has yet to state whether he plans to sign the bill.

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