Agriculture and Harvest Public Media

Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:46 am
Mon August 18, 2014

History's Seeds

Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm in Decorah.
Chiot's Run

Most vegetable seeds today are bred by seed companies to be hearty and easy to grow. They’re created by cross-breeding different varieties and selecting for specific characteristics.

Heirloom seeds are different. Like your grandmother’s engagement ring or a dusty old photo album, these seeds have been passed down through generations.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:00 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

What's Behind That Tomato's Price?

Vegetable farmer Tom Goeke of St. Charles, Mo., sells his Red Deuce tomatoes wholesale at about $1.50 per pound.
Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Late summer in the Midwest is tomato season. For tomato growers around that country, it’s time to pick their bounty and calculate their earnings.

While sun and rain might be free, tomato farmers have to carefully weigh everything else they put in to growing their crop. Research and the development of new tools – from novel seed varieties resistant to diseases to additional fertilizers – has changed the input costs for growers.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

My Farm Roots: Rich with Life

Farmer John Curtis traces his farming roots back to a stint running a model farm in the Peace Corps.

Farmers are used to waking up with the rooster’s crow. But having grown up a suburban kid, John Curtis was used to a more conventional alarm clock.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean, he managed a farm for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A long way from his Wisconsin home, he found a love for the most Midwestern job – that of a farmer.

“I loved walking out on the landscape and finding things I could eat,” Curtis said. “I found agriculture to be fascinating.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Art Tangoes Over Time with Ag

Beekeeper Julia McGuire fits a veil on photographer Marji Guyler-Alaniz before they approach a hive.
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:10 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Activists Aim to Skirt 'Ag Gag' Laws with Drones

Using unmanned aerial vehicles is a controversial practice, whether to scout farmland or to skirt laws outlawing the filming of farms.
Lima Pix/Flickr

An independent journalist says he’s found a way around the so-called “ag-gag” laws – flying drones over large livestock operations to document animal welfare problems and pollution.

Will Potter, a Washington D.C.-based environmental blogger, raised $75,000 on Kickstarter to buy drones and other equipment to do investigative work tracking animal abuse and pollution problems on large livestock operations.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Bug-Infused Food Companies Fight 'Yuck Factor'

Robert Nathan Allen of Austin, Texas-based Little Herds is a high-profile advocate for eating insects in the United States.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Insects can be a great source of protein, and in many parts of the world, people gobble them up.

But here in the United States, a certain “ick factor” has kept consumers from eating crickets, locusts and mealworms. To combat the ickiness and convert skeptical consumers, bug-food advocates are trying a specific marketing tactic: be clever and cute.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Thu August 7, 2014

My Farm Roots: A Father, a Daughter and a Tractor

Emily Robbins and her father, Vic, at the family's farm in Osage County, Kan.
Courtesy of Emily Robbins

Emily Robbins is a city girl now.

Well, I’m using that term as a cliché. Robbins, 27, lives in Kansas City and works as an engineer at a large firm. She is part of a profession that is made up of just 14 percent women.

Her choice of professions makes sense, though, when you know that she started out as her father’s “boy.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Mixed Reception for Poultry Inspection Rules

ISU animal science professor Dong Ahn says consumers could benefit from mandatory microbial testing in the new poultry inspection rule, intended to reduce foodborne illnesses.
Amy Mayer/IPR

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

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
9:09 am
Mon August 4, 2014

‘Right to Farm’ Pits Farmer Against Farmer

Farmer Jeff Jones and his daughters feed grain to their foraging cattle once a day in Callaway County, Mo. They’re concerned about the health and environmental effects a potential hog farm next door might have.
Kris Hustead/Harvest Public Media

The agriculture industry is a cornerstone of the Midwest economy. In some states, it may even become a right.

In Missouri, the so-called “right to farm” is on the ballot in the form of an amendment to the state Constitution. And the controversial provision could be a model for Constitutional additions on other ag-heavy states.

Though the “right to farm” provision is focused on agriculture, it has pitted farmer against farmer with some worried that the results could change the face of farming in the Midwest.

Accountability concerns

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:22 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Modern-Day Dust Bowl Challenges Prairie Farmers

Farmer John Schweiser, 80, has had to take shelter from recent dust storms.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

When the wind picked up from the south on John Schweiser’s farm outside Rocky Ford, Colo., the sky would go black. A charging wall of dust would force the 80-year-old farmer and his wife to hunker down in their ranch-style farmhouse.

“You’d look up and here’d come this big ol’ rolling dirt,” Schweiser said. “You couldn’t see how high it was.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
10:01 am
Thu July 31, 2014

My Farm Roots: Coming Home to Roost

The poultry farm Dan Hromas started near York, Neb., since returning from military service in Iraq, has helped him re-integrate in to civilian life.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

When they heard Dan Hromas’ truck rolling in, the chickens came strutting. The auburn-feathered Rhode Island Reds stood out, even in the tall, green brome grass of Hromas’ rented 3-acre pasture outside of York, Neb.

The pasture is the center of Hromas’ new farming enterprise. For a little over a year he’s been selling farm eggs to local restaurants, grocery stores, and direct to customers in southeast Nebraska.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:26 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Forensics for the Farm Keep Food Safe

Hans Coetzee, a professor at the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine, says forensic testing can offer farmers and veterinarians reassurance that nothing unwanted is in milk, meat or feed.
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 24, 2014

My Farm Roots: Carrying On A Farm Family Legacy

For four generations, Riley Lewis’ family has farmed a plot of land near Forest City, Iowa. Lewis currently raises corn, soybeans and hogs with his son, the fifth generation.
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.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:29 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Fresh Yogurt, Really Fresh

An observation window in the store allows customers to watch while yogurt is being made
IPR's Pat Blank
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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 17, 2014

My Farm Roots: Farm Life Anything But Quiet

Jack and Diane Aaron spent years in Kansas City, Kan., but have embraced their new rural life in Raymore, Mo.
Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media

Jack and Diane Aaron lived in Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kan., for decades. They loved their neighborhood and it was close to family. But when a friend passed away and left them land on a farm, they decided to take a chance on country living.

While farm life is different, they found it’s anything but quiet.

“Out here we’ve got, just different sounds. We have birds that will wake us up. A cat that likes to wake me up at six because he wants to eat,” Diane Aaron said. “It’s peaceful, but it doesn’t make you crazy,”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:25 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Acres of GMO Corn Nearly Double in a Decade

The USDA reports that 93 percent of the corn planted in the United States contains a genetically modified trait.
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Out of Public Eye, a Costly, Bitter Farm Bill Fight

K Street in Washington D.C. has long been known as the home to powerful lobbyists. Hundreds of companies and groups lobbied to influence the 2014 Farm Bill.
Creative Commons

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs,lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:04 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Lobbyists of All Kinds Flock to Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (in green), watches as President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Feb. 7, 2014.
Courtesy David Kosling/USDA

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:11 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Got Goats?

Ensign Hollow trout stream obscured by vegetation
IPR's Pat Blank

A herd of goats are the newest employees of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  64 of them will be eating their way through a 7 acre patch in  Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area in Northeast Iowa's Clayton County.  There's dense vegetation there that's preventing hikers, bird watchers and anglers from using the area as much as they could.  That dense vegetation is also a challenge for traditional heavy mowing equipment because of the steep terrain. The goats have with them a pair of chocolate colored miniature donkeys who will run off any would be predators.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:00 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

EPA Promotes Water Rule to Farmers

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks to reporters at Heffernan Farm in Missouri this week.
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 10, 2014

My Farm Roots: Touch the Ground

Though he grew up without designs on farm life, Elisha Pullen has embraced rural living on his farm near Bell City, Mo.
Jacob McCleland for Harvest Public Media

As a young man, Elisha Pullen never imagined he would spend his days on the farm.

Growing up near rural Bell City in southeastern Missouri’s “Bootheel” region, Pullen longed to leave the farm and get an education.

“I grew up in the day and time when we had to do a lot of chopping and stuff like that. Hard labor,” Pullen said. “I’m going to college, I’m getting my degree and I’m going to work in the air conditioning.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Palmer Amaranth Begins March Through Iowa

In Muscatine County, farmer Roger Hargrafen is doing all he can to eradicate the Palmer amaranth that emerged on his farm last year.
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Mutton busting a rodeo tradition for rough and tumble kids

Navaeha Salgado, 6, peers through a fence at the Greeley Stampede to scope out the sheep she'll soon be latching onto and riding around the arena.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A furry beast, a brave rider and a roaring crowd make up the list of ingredients for the Western rodeo tradition known as “mutton busting.” Think of it as bull-riding, but for 6-year-olds, and the furry beast is actually a wooly sheep.

Mutton busting has its roots in Colorado, where it was first introduced in the 1980s at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The crowd-pleaser is now a favorite at many rodeos and county fairs across the Midwest and Great Plains.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 3, 2014

My Farm Roots: Smells Like Home

Growing up in Nebraska, Kari Williams spent many vacations visiting her family’s farms.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Most family vacations are remembered for endless car rides, packed tourist beaches and a string of poorly decorated hotel rooms.

But not former Nebraskan and current Coloradan Kari Williams. Her family vacation memories center on smells of cow manure, adventures on horseback and roosters with bad attitudes on farms in central Nebraska.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Chef Camp Teaches Basics of Food Production

Farmer Marty Travis shows off one of his fields to the chef campers on June 8, 2014.
Sean Powers for Harvest Public Media

With farm to table restaurants springing up left and right, cooks are having to go beyond the grocery store. That’s why about a dozen chefs from Chicago and central Illinois recently gathered for a two-day crash course on where their food comes from – the farm.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:54 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

FFA Chapter "Beefs Up" Its Investments

Lime Springs Beef LLC owner Jesse Stevens
IPR's Pat Blank

  Students at Crestwood High School FFA are making a 20 thousand dollar investment in a soon to be opened beef processing facility near Lime Springs in North Iowa. They're using some of the 90 thousand dollars they had in the bank after selling some land a few years ago. Initially the FFA chapter was unable to take advantage of the opportunity because state law did not allow investment of taxpayer money in a private enterprise.  State lawmakers assisted the group in introducing the Entrepreneurial Funds for Student Organizations and Clubs Act.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Hunger Help from the Heartland

Kurt Rosentrater keeps bins of various types of feed in his lab at Iowa State. Characteristics such as size and sponginess tell him what type of diet the feed is for, while the smell hints at the ingredients.
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.”

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Pink Slime Returns
1:10 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Controversial Hamburger Product Returns

Photo by pointnshoot

A much-maligned beef product that’s sometimes added to  hamburger is making a comeback after a sharp decline  two years ago.    Processors cut back  on the production of  what they call finely textured beef when a nasty  nickname “pink slime” caught on in the media.   Now  demand for the product is on the rise because of high beef prices.   

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:57 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

A New Way To Raise Beef ?

Matt (left) and John Schneider
IPR's Pat Blank

    

    

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:48 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Midwest: A Cattle Paradise as Drought Stretches Beef Country

Terry Van Housen takes a handful of feed from the bunk at his feedlot near Stromsburg, Neb. Lower feed costs give Nebraska an advantage in the cattle feeding industry.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

 

Drought is re-shaping the beef map and raising the price of steak. Ranchers are moving herds from California to Coloradoand from Texas to Nebraska seeking refuge from dry weather. And cattle producers in the Midwest are making the most of it.

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