agriculture

StooMathiesen

A business in Sigourney Iowa could be one of the first the nation to slaughter horses after a previous ban was allowed to expire.  Join Host Ben Kieffer to hear from the CEO of the company given approval by the USDA, and hear from two people with opposing views on the matter.  Also hear a little about the politics of this issue and the horse-meat labeling scandal that came to light earlier this year in Europe.

The Farm Crisis

Jun 28, 2013
USDA / National Archives and Records Administration

The farm crisis of the 1980s meant high interest rates; it’s estimated that farmland values dropped nearly 60 percent in some areas of the Midwest during the early '80s.  But it was not just an economic disaster.  A new documentary also tries to capture the personal stories. Guest host Ben Stanton talks with the producer of "The Farm Crisis" Laurel Bower Burgmaier.  Later in the show is an update to the flood-related weather outlook for Iowa, and hear about NPR's programing changes now in effect and how they will affect Iowa Public Radio.

tpsdav/pixabay

In a stunning move, the U.S. House voted against approving farm bill legislation Thursday, leaving the bill's future up in the air.

The House rejected the farm bill on a final tally of 234-195 after a day of dramatic, tight votes on amendments to the bill.

the National Museum of American History--Smithsonian Institution / Flickr

The farm bill is legislation is worth more than $90 billion. It deals with everything from farm subsidies to crop insurance; but over 80% of this massive outlay goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,) which was once called food stamps.  More than 45 million people depend on SNAP, especially since the economic downturn.  However, in the current versions of the bill both Democrats and Republicans are discussing cutting funds from the program. 

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. only get small glimpses of farming, such as a mural display of immigrant farmworkers planting crops in a 19th century California town. The museum once had an Agriculture Hall, but it was removed in 2006.

Flickr / Cara Harpole

Fish and fresh veggies make an appealing paring for dinner, but they can also be a great duo in the greenhouse.  Host Charity Nebbe discusses aquaponics, which is the growing of crops with nutrient rich waste water from fish farming.  Iowa State University Extension fisheries specialist Allen Pattillo and horticulturist Richard Jauron join the program.

Flickr / cwwycoff1

Women have worked in agriculture since agriculture began, but for many years they were limited to supporting roles. Talk of Iowa seeks out women's voices in agriculture, through history and today.  Jenny Barker-Devine, author of "On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women's Activism since 1945" discusses how the roles of farm women changed during the 20th century.

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

After two major flooding events for Iowa in 1993 and 2008, and a number of significant flooding events in-between, Iowans need to ask hard questions about how we have altered our environment.

Today on "Talk of Iowa" we talk about agricultural and urban flooding. We'll take a look at changes we've made to our landscape that has made it more prone to flooding.  We'll also discuss both the damage flooding can cause, and some innovative ways farmers, homeowners and city planners can prevent flooding or at least minimize the damage it can cause.

Mike Stone / Reuters

The deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas is prompting questions about regulatory oversight there.  In Iowa, officials say fertilizer is only produced at a handful of sites across the state, but many others store it.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman says the agency regulates 700 retail facilities in Iowa that store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, an ingredient that can be particularly volatile.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

"Talk of Iowa" explores the roles of women on the farm in history, literature, popular culture and the present.  We talk with Zachary Michael Jack, author of "The Midwest Farmer's Daughter: In Search of an American Icon." Also joining the conversation, Cheryl Tevis of Iowa Women In Agriculture, and Denise O'Brien, founder of the

Courtesy Barrett & MacKay Photography Inc.

Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”

Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Just south of Hermann, Mo., Swiss Meat and Sausage Co. processes 2 million pounds of meat a year -- everything from cattle to hogs to buffalo to elk.

And everything gets a label.

“No antibiotics added, raised without added hormones, all natural, minimally processed," Glenn Brandt, the production manager for Swiss Meat, reads from a hefty roll of hickory smoked beef sausage stickers.

What this label does not indicate, however, is whether or not the sausage contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Flickr / QinetiQ group

Often when we hear about unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, it pertains to military strikes and surveillance.  However unmanned aerial vehicle technology is bringing UAVs into our everyday lives right here in Iowa.   Today on "River to River" we explore the domestic uses of UAVs.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

Over the past several months, we’ve been reporting on lots of problems caused by a lack of rain. And for good reason – the historic drought plaguing Iowa and much of the nation has dried up crops, destroyed landscaping, and killed off fish.

But like with most things, there can be a silver lining.

John Larson makes wine at Snus Hill Winery in Madrid, Iowa. This time of year, he’s not growing grapes – but he is mixing wine in giant, silver tanks.

When Conservation Pays

Jan 7, 2013
Hilary Stohs-Krause/NET News

Along the winding road to and through Grace Creek Ranch, a 25,537-acre yearling cattle ranch in central Nebraska, there are no houses in sight – no buildings, for that matter. Just acres and acres of gold and amber grass, punctuated by patches of sand and lines of barbed wire fence.

And that’s the way the owners of Gracie Creek Ranch want it to stay.  Lindsey Price, a fourth-generation rancher, her brother Aaron and their father Bob recently sold the largest conservation easement in Nebraska history, covering about 40 square miles.

Tom Woodward / Flickr

     

Like many Midwestern states, Iowa is closing the 2012 calendar year with soil moisture deficits after this summer's drought. But with the new crop year at least four months away, Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor is seeing some spotty

Taylor credits abundant fall rains with helping mitigate the drought, at least for now.

Jacob McCleland

Southbound barges on the Mississippi River carry grain destined for world markets. Those barges regularly pass northbound tows with thousands of tons of fertilizer heading to Midwestern ports and, later, to farmers’ fields.

But this year’s drought is adding an element of uncertainty to those shipping patterns, as Mississippi River levels reach record lows. Water levels have fertilizer shippers scrambling to get their product to market before low water dries up their most important shipping route.

Oh Christmas Tree

Nov 21, 2012
Pat Blank

Danny Moulds owns Kris Kringle’s Trees just north of Cedar Falls. He says the hot dry summer took a harsh toll on newly planted seedlings. He says he lost around 15 thousand Christmas  trees on his 46 acre farm.

Had those young trees survived they would have been ready for harvest in 2019. Because the drought was so widespread, Iowa Department of Natural Resources District Forester Mark Vitosh says it may be harder to find the more popular varieties in the future.

Sandhya Dirks / IPR

Debate surrounding what we eat and how it’s made is nothing new, but in this year of outcry over pink slime, criticism regarding gestation crates and questions about the value of organic food, the various sides are reaching out in new ways and new places. Even when the opposing camps actually speak with each other, though, middle ground is still proving hard to find.

Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Howard Audsley has been driving through Missouri for the past 30 years to assess the value of farmland. Barreling down the flat roads of Saline County on a recent day, he stopped his truck at a 160-acre tract of newly tilled black land. The land sold in February for $10,700 per acre, double what it would have gone for five years ago.

Heading out into the field, Audsley picked up a clod of the dirt that makes this pocket of land some of the priciest in the state.

Ethanol debate looks beyond short term gain

Nov 12, 2012
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Livestock producers want to press pause on the federal mandate for corn-based ethanol. They’re seeking relief from corn prices pushed up by the drought. But as Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock reports, this short-term debate has broader implications. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Still riding high off as many saw it, his first presidential debate win, Governor Mitt Romney focused on agriculture policy in a campaign stop at a farm near Van Meter Tuesday. While Romney focused primarily on farm policy, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports the Republican presidential candidate also got a little personal.

Flanked by a John Deere tractor sporting the Romney/Ryan campaign’s trademark red, white and blue “R,” Mitt Romney addressed 1200 people on a corn field in windy northern Madison County. 

Farm Bill 2012

Oct 9, 2012
Picket fence along field
Kevin Dooley / Flickr

The Farm Bill is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government. The comprehensive bill is passed every five years in Congress. Recently, Congress decided to postpone action on the new bill until after the November elections.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

Salmonella found again on Iowa farm

Sep 10, 2012
Shannon Miller

It’s been two years since a salmonella outbreak was traced back to several Iowa farms—including Centrum Valley Farms. As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, another strain of the deadly bacteria has re-appeared on that same farm.

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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