Erica Hunzinger

Erica Hunzinger is the editor of Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri.

Born and bred in central Illinois, Erica branched out to the University of Missouri-Columbia for her journalism degree and later earned an MA in Humanities (with an emphasis on poetry) from the University of Chicago.

Previously, Erica was the politics, education and criminal justice editor at St. Louis Public Radio. For five years before that, she was a member of The Associated Press' Central Region editing desk, where she took a keen interest in working on regional agriculture stories. Erica also spent time on copy-editing desks at The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, and The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.

She's a farmer's granddaughter, quite familiar with the smell of cow manure and processed soybeans, and tries to nurture flowers and plants in her spare time.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the biggest federal program aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that millions of Americans find themselves in — sometimes for a few months, sometimes for several years.

courtesy / U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall's Office

Held up over disagreements over federal food stamps, the first draft of the 2018 farm bill arrived Thursday, bearing 35 changes to that program, including starting a national database of participants.

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30; in the past, Congress has had to extend their work beyond deadlines. The bill released Thursday came from the House Agriculture Committee, which is headed by Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway.

Amy Mayer / IPR

Big cities in the Midwest are gaining ground on the rural communities that, for many decades, have thrived on the edges of urban development.

Since 1980, the amount of land being farmed or grazed in the U.S. has dropped 13 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Much of it now flaunts housing subdivisions, big-box stores and computer-server farms.

Outward growth from metropolitan areas can strain courts, schools and traffic. It also can change the cultural and regional identity of once-rural communities — something visible on the outskirts of two metro areas connected by Interstate 35 and an agricultural heritage: Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Partisan politics may meet its match in the 2018 farm bill.

The massive legislation, versions of which will be introduced this spring in the U.S. House and Senate, is shaping up to be less about political affiliations and more about finding common ground.