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.

Ways To Connect

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. 

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. 

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. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

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

Who Stole the Beans?

Nov 12, 2014
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.

Amy Mayer/IPR

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

SD Dirk

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

Alan Light

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

Jason Mrachina

Iowa's 3rd Congressional District contains 16 counties in the southwest quadrant of the state. Its largest population centers are Des Moines and Council Bluffs.

Polling shows Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young, neck-and-neck for the open race. Republican Tom Latham is stepping down after 10 terms in Congress. 

Kevin Palmer

The 4th District covers the most area, but contains the fewest people of Iowa's four congressional districts.  Situated in the northwest quadrant of the state, Sioux City, Ames and Mason City are the 4th's major population centers.  

Republican Congressman Steve King is seeking his sixth term in the U.S. House. Polling shows Democrat Jim Mowrer trailing King by double digits in the solidly Republican district. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.  

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.  

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.

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.

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."

Amy Mayer/IPR

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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. The legislation authorizes improvements such as deepening ports.

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Read this candidate profile of 3rd District Candidate Joe Grandanette. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.

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Nathan Anderson stops his red pick-up truck alongside a cornfield on his farm near Cherokee, Iowa. The young farmer pulls on a heavy brown hoodie, thick long, sturdy yellow gloves and a beekeeper’s hat with a screened veil. He approaches a pair of hives sitting on the edge of a field recently planted with corn.

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