Agriculture and Harvest Public Media

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Farm bill is more than subsidies and food stamps

Iowa State University researcher Kenny McCabe tends to tomatoes and salvia growing in bio-renewable pots in a greenhouse in Ames.
Amy Mayer/IPR

With the election over, lawmakers now return to Washington for the final weeks of the 112th Congress. Their schedule is packed, but House majority leader Eric Cantor has said addressing the now expired Farm Bill is on the agenda. With Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports that it’s not just farmers facing the challenge of planning for an unknown future.

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Farm bill and the elections
1:38 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Why Campaigns Aren't Focusing on the Farm Bill

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks with Greene County farmer Mike Holden at a campaign event for Vilsack's wife, Christie, the Democratic candidate in the 4th Congressional District.
courtesy photo

When Congress recessed for the election season without passing a new farm bill, many observers thought farmers would demand explanations as campaign trails blazed through small towns. In conjunction with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer has this look at how the farm bill is playing on the stump.

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Traceability of produce
5:30 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Produce industry struggles to trace food from farm to table

Liberty Fruit Co. in Kansas City, KS, understands the challenges of traceability. It can alert buyers to a recalled product within 24 hours thanks to computerized codes it sticks onto every box. (Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media)

Technology is giving the food industry better tools for detecting problems in the food supply, such as e coli or salmonella contaminations. That’s partly why food recalls have increased in recent years. But quickly finding the source and final destination of unsafe food -- that’s a little more complicated. A recently enacted law requires the produce industry to come up with a system for tracking fruits and vegetables from field to fork, but as Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson reports, there’s a big holdup.

Roundup Resistant Weeds
7:25 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Roundup resistance leading to more chemicals, study finds

Water hemp in this soybean field was not killed by Roundup. (Courtesy Bob Hartzler/Iowa State University)

Farmers and weeds are in a constant competition. When the herbicide called Roundup came along, farmers got a clear edge. But now weeds are beginning to catch up. Grant Gerlock of Harvest Public Media has more on how Roundup-resistant weeds are changing the game.

Cover Crops
2:18 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Cover Crops Use Expanding

Jeff Longnecker's cows will graze next spring on rye planted now.
Amy Mayer

While many farmers were bringing in this year’s harvest, they also were planting.  Cover crops—like oats and winter rye—are becoming more popular, despite the time and expense involved in growing green fields that won’t ever make money—directly.  Together with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer explains why.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
5:23 am
Tue October 9, 2012

New Amish Settlement Competes for Land in Delaware County

Members that started the Delhi Amish settlement moved to Delaware County, Iowa last year. Now, signs that read "Share the Road" are posted along rural county roads.
Clay Masters IPR

A new Amish settlement has sprung up in Delaware County, Iowa near Delhi. Members of the Amish community near Edgewood left the settlement because of economic differences they had with the Bishop  about how much time they could work off the farm. In the capital intensive agriculture industry it’s hard for anyone to work the land without a second income. As the Amish are forced to become more progressive it’s pitting them against the eroding Midsize American farms.

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Drought Resistant Corn Yields
8:30 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Drought Resistant Corn Yields

Syngenta's drought resistant corn just before harvest in Maxwell, IA.
Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio

After the dry summer, this harvest offers a good look at what drought resistant corn can do. In conjunction with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports the big companies may soon be touting their results, but farmers may not rush to plant drought resistant seed next year. 

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:47 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Drought Means Mixed Harvest for Pumpkin Growers

Pumpkin harvests are varied across Iowa - another effect of this summer's severe drought.
Dean Borg Iowa Public Radio

With Halloween approaching, attention is turning to pumpkins. But not all pumpkin fields are filled with orange.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
4:24 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Cows eating candy?

Prices for corn-based livestock feed have jumped nearly 20 percent. So some farmers are using leftover or off grade items like partially melted candy bars, from local food processors, to supplement.

Gummy bears, chocolate, ice cream, and chewing gum:  sounds like a junk food binge, but those products are actually helping some Iowa cattle producers stretch their dollars. Prices for corn-based livestock feed have jumped nearly 20 percent. So some farmers are using leftover or off grade items like partially melted candy bars, from local food processors, to supplement.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:00 am
Wed September 26, 2012

My Farm Roots: Nathan Dorn

Nathan Dorn stands in front of the feedlot on his family’s farm in Adams, Neb.
Camille Phillips Harvest Public Media

Down a stretch of rural highway and country roads lined with fields, about an hour south of Lincoln, Neb., lies the Dorn family farm. That’s where Nathan Dorn grew up, where his grandfather farmed before him and where his father, uncles and cousin now farm beside him.

Dorn’s strong ties to the land made the decision to continue the family tradition of farming an easy one. But it also leaves him feeling misunderstood by the average American.

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Farm Bill
1:47 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Coalescing around the Farm Bill

Back in Iowa after the Farm Bill Now rally in Washington, D.C., Brad Moeckly tends to his combine.
Amy Mayer

The current farm bill expires at the end of September and lawmakers won’t have a new one passed, thanks largely to election-year politics. Despite the partisan bickering in Washington, many in farm country are working together to keep their concerns on the front burner.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
4:12 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Unverferth adds jobs in a drought year

One of the hundreds of grain carts made annually by Unverferth Manufacturing near Shell Rock
Pat Blank

Farm equipment maker Unverferth Manufacturing Incorporated is taking a leap of faith by adding jobs with the help of a 600 thousand dollar boost from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The Shell Rock plant is Butler County’s largest employer with 425 current jobs. The state money will be used to build a  6 million dollar expansion and create 75 jobs over three years.

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Developing
8:52 am
Wed September 19, 2012

My Farm Roots: From pastime to passion

Aaron Troester grew up wanting to farm. He changed his mind in college, but eventually settled back on the farm with his young family.
Hilary Stohs-Krause for Harvest Public Media

Aaron Troester’s life both did, and didn’t, turn out exactly the way he planned.

The 29-year-old farmer in the north-central Nebraska town of O’Neill was pouring honey into jars from bees he keeps when I met him. I soon learned he had a chemistry degree and had planned to go to medical school, but the lure of the land he farms with his father changed his mind.

“All through grade school, I knew I wanted to farm,” Troester said. That changed in college, but a year spent back on the farm while waitlisted for med school slowly evolved from passing the time into passion.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
5:44 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Gas with more ethanol headed to some pumps

The Zarco 66 gas station in Lawrence, Kan., is the first in the country to offer E-15.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

Head to your local filling station and you might see a new blend of gas at the pump. After a three-year regulatory process, the Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 – gas made with 15 percent ethanol – this summer.

Most gas we pump is already blended with ethanol, sometimes it contains as much as 10 percent, but the ethanol industry fought hard to bring E15 to the market. For ethanol backers and the farmers who feed the ethanol industry, getting drivers to pump gas with 50 percent more ethanol is a big win.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
3:53 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Which presidential candidate is best for agriculture?

Former Iowa Lieutentant Governor Patty Judge debates Nebraska Republican Senator Mike Johanns in front of State Secretaries of Agriculture from across the country.
Sandhya Dirks

Despite a devastating drought Iowa has weathered a rough economy thanks to its agricultural base. On Wednesday night Ag leaders from across the country gathered in Des Moines for a forum on agriculture. The question up for debate? Which presidential candidate is best for farmers.  As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, the answer to that question could decide the election.  

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:59 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Manager of Iowa Egg Farm Linked to Salmonella Admits Bribery

Shannon Miller

The manager at an Iowa Egg Farm implicated in a national salmonella outbreak will admit he tried to bribe a federal official to sign off on unsafe eggs.

In 2010 a salmonella scare spread across the country—500 million eggs were recalled and 2,000 people fell sick.

Now a federal prosecutor says the manager of the farm the bacterial outbreak was traced back to—Tony Wasmund—has agreed to plead guilty to attempting to bribe a public official. Wasmund apparently offered $300 to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to let eggs that didn’t pass muster go to market.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:22 am
Wed September 12, 2012

My Farm Roots:Rose Alderson

Rose Alderson and her husband Loren have farmed outside of Nickerson, Kan., for decades.
Frank Morris Harvest Public Media

This is the tenth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connections to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:57 am
Wed September 5, 2012

My Farm Roots: Brandon Fahrmeier

Brandon Fahrmeier and his brother Bret Fahrmeier farm in Lexington, Mo., on land that has been in their family since the 1940s.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

This is the ninth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Brandon Fahrmeier had a nice job as a sales rep in Ohio for a large company. He and his wife had a nice suburban home. Then they had kids.  

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
5:30 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Dry Summer Means Real-Life Test for Drought-Resistant Corn

An AQUAmax corn field in drought-plagued southwest Iowa is yielding more bushels than traditional varieties on the Clan Farm near Atlantic.
Rick Fredericksen Iowa Public Radio

One of Iowa’s largest agribusiness companies has a huge investment riding on this year’s prolonged drought. A new hybrid seed corn developed by DuPont Pioneer is being touted for its ability to improve yields under the driest conditions.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
5:52 am
Wed August 29, 2012

My Farm Roots: Barb and Lynn Handy

Barb and Lynn Handy have farmed in western Iowa for all of their married lives. They were married 52 years ago.
Camille Phillips Harvest Public Media

This is the seventh installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

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Agriculture
5:57 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Drought Does Not Discriminate

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley stands in his soybean field near New Hartford, Iowa. In a non drought year, the beans would be waist high.

In May of 2008, an EF5 tornado hit Parkersburg and New Hartford in Northeast Iowa. Two weeks later. the entire town of New Hartford was evacuated because of flooding. In both cases, property owned by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and his family was spared. This summer’s natural disaster however is different.  Although the Grassleys' farmland in Butler County will still produce a crop, the yields are greatly reduced. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank walked with Senator Grassley through his corn and soybean fields on Wednesday afternoon.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:45 am
Wed August 22, 2012

My Farm Roots: Rhonda McClure

Rhonda McClure raises sheep for wool on a small farm outside Wahoo, Neb., and uses some of the wool in fiber art projects.
Grant Gerlock Harvest Public Media

This is the seventh installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:01 am
Wed August 15, 2012

My Farm Roots: Ryan Brady

Ryan Brady has traveled widely, but says his farm north of Cimarron, Kan., remains the "most beautiful" place he has been.
Justine Greve Harvest Public Media

This is the sixth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
1:32 am
Mon August 13, 2012

The Fumbles of the Farm Bill

Ed Greiman, a cattle producer and president-elect of the Iowa Cattlemen, climbs onto the front of a truck hauling silage on his ranch near Garner, IA.
Clay Masters IPR

While Iowa’s congressional candidates are campaigning at the state fair, piles of unresolved legislation wait for them back in Washington. Including the farm bill – that large piece of legislation from food stamps to crop insurance. But with 13 days left in the session, passage is looking pretty bleak.  Could there really be no farm bill this year?

Roy Pralle is an 85-year-old retired farmer from Latimer, Iowa. He spends most afternoons playing cribbage with other retired farmers at Dudley's Corner. A diner attached to a gas station in north central Iowa. 

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:16 am
Wed August 8, 2012

My Farm Roots: Nolan Strawder

Despite working full time as a mechanical engineer, 25-year-old Nolan Strawder is rehabbing his family's farm in his spare time.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

This is the fifth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

When a guy is a mechanical engineer at a nuclear power plant, you figure he puts in a pretty good day of work.

Not so for Nolan Strawder, whose day job, as he calls it, is at the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Burlington, Kan.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:43 am
Mon August 6, 2012

Hog farmers worry as more consumers demand phaseout of gestation stalls

Craig Rowles (right), and one of his employees, Dan Sander, at Elite Pork Partnership.
Sarah McCammon IPR

North America’s largest food distributor, Sysco, is the latest company to announce it will phase out pork produced with a controversial technology known as gestation crates. A growing number of consumers say they want more humanely produced meat on their plates, but many farmers worry they’ll be left picking up the tab.

Craig Rowles grew up on an Iowa farm, and like a lot of farm kids, he’s done his share of heavy lifting.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:43 am
Wed August 1, 2012

My Farm Roots: Jan Phillips

When Jan Phillips was a baby, her parents said they knew by her laughter in response to a cow-driven buggy ride that she would be adventurous. Seventy years later, she's still proving them right. This is her last year on a trip to Asia.
Courtesy Jan Phillips Harvest Public Media

This is the fourth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots (http://www.harvestpublicmedia.org/myfarmroots) stories and to share your own.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
8:28 am
Fri July 27, 2012

Livestock Producers Caught Without Safety Net

Clint Alley / flickr

Farmers growing crops have insurance to ward off the financial failure of their season during this terrible drought. But there’s no safety net like that in place for livestock producers. They are being turned away from government offices when they ask for help. What’s the holdup? Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports that aid for livestock producers is tied up in Washington politics. 

Crop Insurance
7:33 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Crop Insurance to the Rescue

Drought-stressed corn

Stop by most any unirrigated farm across the lower Midwest and you'll see crops in distress. Midwestern corn and soybean farmers are taking a beating during the recent drought, but it's not likely to drive many out of business.

Most of those farmers carry terrific insurance, and the worse the drought becomes, the more individual farmers will be paid for their lost crops. The federal government picks up most of the cost of the crop insurance program, and this year that bill is going to be a whopper.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
11:24 am
Tue July 24, 2012

My Farm Roots: Tom Karst

Tom Karst feels right at home on a summer morning at a farmer's market in Overland Park, Kan.
Donna Vestal Harvest Public Media

In this week's installment, we meet Tom Karst. He's the national editor for "The Packer," a trade newspaper covering the fruit and vegetable industry. For more than 25 years, he’s been reporting on issues of importance to the produce industry, including immigration, farm policy, and food safety.

To explore more "My Farm Roots" stories, and share your own, visit: http://harvestpublicmedia.org/myfarmroots

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