Farming

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

Jul 16, 2012
Urban-Ag Academy / Facebook

In the Iowa Statehouse, and in statehouses across the nation, representatives are finding themselves separated—not by party lines, but by whether they come from an urban or rural district.  This weekend, the first national Urban Ag Academy was held in Des Moines. The goal? To look at that divide and to give a voice to minority farmers.

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

Jul 16, 2012
Urban-Ag Academy / Facebook

In the Iowa Statehouse, and in statehouses across the nation, representatives are finding themselves separated—not by party lines, but by whether they come from an urban or rural district.  This weekend, the first Urban Ag Academy was held in Des Moines. The goal? To look at that divide and to give a voice to minority farmers. More than sixty state representatives from across the country came together to in an effort to help bridge the divide between city and country. 

Andrea Silenzi / Harvest Public Media

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

Kate Edwards hasn’t always been a farmer. No, she came back to the farm after college, grad school and a stint as an environmental engineer.

Clay Masters / IPR

Next week the farm bill makes its way to the House. That’s the big piece of legislation that sets food and agriculture policy for the next 5 years. How does this impact the average Iowan that isn’t on the farm?  Iowa State Agriculture economist Bruce Babcock says for the most part it doesn’t… except for one thing. 

"Are the taxpayer dollars being well spent subsidizing really well managed farms, very smart farmers and very wealthy farmers?" he said.

It’s been a year since the Missouri River flooded homes, farmland and businesses, and people in Western Iowa and Nebraska are still recovering and waiting for disaster aid. Host Clay Masters talks with soil expert Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi, and farmer Scott Olson about efforts to get the soil back to a functional state. Later, Clay talks with groups involved in flood recovery efforts who share their ideas on how to best manage the river for the future.

Clay Masters / IPR

The mighty Missouri River flows through 7 states and drains one-sixth of the water in the United States.  It’s a powerful force that gives life to the land.  But last year’s flood that lasted over 110 days has people talking… and fighting for the future. Here’s Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters, with part two of our special report.

Clay Masters / IPR

The floodwaters that ravaged homes, businesses and farms along a vast stretch of the Missouri River last year are not a distant memory. And as the difficult cleanup and recovery continues, concerns have intensified between those who want there to be more control of this river, and those who believe it should flow freely. In part one of a two-part report, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters finds that common ground has yet to find traction.

Calm before the Corn

May 29, 2012
Clay Masters / IPR

Corn has been good to farmers. Helping fuel a boom in the ag sector. And as this year’s record corn forecast indicates, Midwestern farmers can’t seem to plant enough of the grain. Even with concerns growing about the effectiveness of today’s high-tech genetically engineered seeds, farmers aren’t backing down.

The land is dry and the wind blows hard in Sac County, Iowa.  For Darwin Bettin it’s a good day to be inside selling insurance. He also farms 500 acres of corn and soybeans in western Iowa.

Making it in the Middle: the mid-sized farmer

May 25, 2012
Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

A few years ago, things were going smoothly for Eric Neill and his family.

Neill was making good money as a construction superintendent for a commercial contractor in Kansas City, traveling the country, running challenging job sites. But he wasn’t satisfied.

“I decided I wanted to be a farmer,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be a farmer.”

So Neill and his wife, Julie Neill, met with an extension agent and asked how they could make a living with a farm.

That is a tall order.

Who are you calling a corporate farmer?

May 24, 2012
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

A surprising thing happens while touring Chris Boeckmann’s turkey farm, where 50,000 birds are grown each year for Cargill Inc.

After seeing the huge brooder barn, after looking into a second enormous facility for the older birds and after spying the Cargill sign, the obvious conclusion is that this is a corporate farm.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

The farmer of future will grow food and raise animals with tomorrow in mind. They’ll know contributing to the food supply is not enough. If the soil, air and water they use to produce food is damaged, good luck feeding anyone.  

That’s the idea, anyway, behind “sustainability” — one of the big buzz words in agriculture today. It’s all about making sure natural resources are not depleted or permanently damaged so that we can farm into the future.

Wild Horses Come to Iowa

Apr 23, 2012

You have to weave between Amish buggies on the gravel road that leads to the Davis County Fairgrounds.

There, this weekend, corrals are holding more than 30 burros and wild horses.

Most of the animals quietly munch on hay. They pay little attention to the families and kids coming up to stalls.

Dave Berg is a specialist for the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM.

“If they have good food and clean water, they’re happy campers," he says. "And out in the wild, they do not have good food and clean water that readily available.”

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Staying in the middle of the country, you might have heard that America's farmers are getting older. Something else you probably know: women tend to outlive men. So do the math and what do you get? More women in charge of land and some who aren't really sure how to take care of it. So as Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon reports, female conservationists are reaching out to this growing group.

Sarah McCammon

You’ve probably heard that America’s farmers are getting older. Something else you may know: women tend to outlive men. So, do the math, and what do you get? More women coming into agricultural land – and some who aren’t really sure what to do with it. Conservationists say this shift is both a challenge – and an opportunity – for Iowa’s farmland.

Dairy industry pushes for reform

Mar 27, 2012

Many dairymen are calling the government price support system broken, but just how to fix it isn't clear. There's debate over how much the government should step in to help in tough times and as to what degree it should let the free market govern.  

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