Agriculture and Harvest Public Media

Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:40 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Shutdown impacts food inspections

Furloughs at the Food and Drug Administration mean fewer inspections for some foods.
rick/Flickr

 

Consumers can rest assured that even with the government shutdown that went into effect on Tuesday, all of the meat, poultry and eggs bought from the grocery store will be inspected as usual by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But that’s not necessarily the case for other foods -- like cheese, produce and boxes of cereal. Inspections for these products fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, which had to furlough 45 percent of its staff on Tuesday.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:55 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Rescue Ready

NECAS Director Dan Neenan trains firefighters at a school held at Kirkwood Community College
Credit IPR's Pat Blank

A study by Purdue University shows the overall death rate from accidents on American farms is declining, but the number of fatalities from grain bin entrapments has been stubbornly steady. The peak was 2010 in which 51 people, mostly teenagers died. Iowa's volunteer firefighters are getting updated training and new equipment in case a rescue is needed.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:51 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Farm bill expires, leaves farmers in limbo--again

Ames farmer Jeff Longnecker says the farm bill should provide a safety net.
Amy Mayer/IPR

The farm bill expired at midnight on Monday, leaving farmers and ranchers across the country guessing at what federal farm policy will look like when they next put their crops in the ground.

Of course, they’re used to uncertainty, as this is the second straight year Congress has let the farm bill expire. Last year, farmers were set adrift for three months before lawmakers passed a nine-month extension of older policy in January.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:48 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Monster Machinery

This high rise chemical applicator known as a "highboy" is just one of the many large implements that are appearing more frequently on Iowa's roadways.
Credit IPR's Amy Mayer

The Iowa Department of Transportation is reporting 79 crashes and 5 fatalities involving farm equipment in 2013. Safety officials say drivers need to be alert especially at dusk and dawn when these huge machines tend to be more numerous. They also say farmers need to share responsibility by making sure motorists know when they're about to turn or make a sudden stop. Farmers are asked not to wave motorists by them, but instead pull off to the side of the road if possible.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:53 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Why farmers want new equipment

Illinois farmer Len Corzine is surrounded by some of his brand new farm equipment.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media.

On a hot day in late August, Kevin Bien stands in the shade of a large gray piece of farm equipment.  The brand marketing manager for Gleaner Combines gives his best spiel to a group of farmers attending the Farm progress Show  in Decatur, Ill.   Torque, efficiency, and new technology are among his key points for the prospective buyers of the large machines that can run anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.    

And farmers are buying. Frequently.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:23 am
Tue September 17, 2013

ISU Researchers Develop New Test for Deadly Pig Virus

PEDV is most deadly to young piglets.
Credit Sarah McCammon

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has the potential to kill entire litters of piglets. It has been confirmed in 17 states including Iowa since its first appearance last spring. Now, hog producers and veterinarians have a new tool to help fight it, thanks to a more sensitive test developed at Iowa State University.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Foaming manure pits pose fire threat, vex researchers

Hogs like these live in barns with slatted floors. Manure and water accumulate in a deep pit below the barn, where foam sometimes forms.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Howard Hill pulls his red Chevy pick-up truck up to a barn near Union, Iowa, that houses 1,000 of his hogs. In the truck’s bed is a 55-pound bag of Rumensin 90, a common antibacterial ingredient in cattle feed that helps reduce bloating. Pigs don’t eat it. Hill brought it here to dump into the manure pit under the hogs.

Hill is among the many Midwestern pork producers who use deep pits under their barns to accumulate manure throughout the year. In the fall, after fields are harvested, the nutrient-rich slurry gets pumped out of the pits and injected into the cropland.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
1:11 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Syria latest stumbling block on farm bill path

Farmers will soon begin harvesting crops, and making decisions about next year, without a farm bill.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Farmers may now have to wait until Congress makes its decisions about Syria before the farm bill gets any more attention.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said a farm bill conference committee could meet without disrupting the debate on Syria, but he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“Syria’s going to put the farm bill on the back burner,” Grassley said. “I don’t think that’s justified, but that’s what we’ve been told. And how far—on how many back burners back—I don’t know.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:04 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Harvest Begins in Iowa for Specialty Corn

A late-summer corn crop in Iowa (2012).
Credit Sarah McCammon

Harvesting is underway in Iowa of corn grown for specialized purposes.

In a field near Ankeny, Paul Mens was operating one of two corn pickers this week, specially designed for harvesting the corn ears that will be shelled at a nearby Monsanto seed corn processing plant.

“In my opinion, for what this has been through, the yield is real good," he says, referring to challenging weather this year. "You can tell where the wet spots were, where it was too wet this spring, but overall, it’s doing real well."

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Congress still playing the farm bill game

In the Facebook game Farmville 2, players create their own farms. Like real farmers, players plan their moves based on policy.
courtesy of Zynga

The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:27 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Prison dairy serves up buffalo milk

The Four Mile Correctional Center in Cañon City, Colo ., is home to what may well be the country’s largest water buffalo dairy.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Past the razor-wire fences, beyond huge metal gates, behind thick walls, you’ll find one of the most unique dairies in the country. The Four Mile Correctional Center in Cañon City, Colo., is home to what could very well be the country’s largest herd of domesticated water buffalo – buffalo milked for their rich, frothy milk.

At the Four Mile dairy, inmates run the milking parlor, not a farmer in overalls. And it’s not black and white cows dotting the landscape, instead it’s water buffalo with big, curved horns.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:59 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Drought Conditions are Worsening Across the State

Many cornfields, like this one in Cedar County near Lisbon, Iowa are prematurely crisp because of expanding drought conditions.
Credit Dean Borg

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update shows drought worsening and spreading across  the state. The monitor’s report includes Iowa in a Midwest section badly needing rain.  

Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor says this week’s report is listing more of Iowa in a severe drought category.

“And it includes now almost all of the southern part of Iowa, and almost all of the central,” he says.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu September 5, 2013

My Farm Roots: Community counts

Matt Pauly, far left, and his family near Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Matt Pauly

This is the thirteenth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

Matt Pauly has traveled the world  – he’s lived in New York, Paris, South Korea – but he’s still a farm boy at heart.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Pork checkoff funds research, can't please all producers

Berkshire piglets race around their nursery on Randy Hilleman's farm in State Center. This hog variety is the subject of a Pork Checkoff-funded study at Iowa State.
Amy Mayer/IPR

A new disease turned up in the $20 billion United States hog industry in May, and the National Pork Board’s response illustrates the role it plays in swine research. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) previously had been found mainly in Asia. It threatened to kill whole litters of piglets.

The Des Moines-based Pork Board sprang into action last spring, making $450,000 immediately available for research on the disease. The Pork Board gets its money from the mandatory pork check-off program, which raised $83 million last year.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:38 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Farm Progress Show feels the heat in Illinois

Visitors stroll through exhibits at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media.

A late-summer heat wave has been greeting visitors to this year’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, one of the country’s largest agriculture trade shows. It’s a fitting reminder of a rough year for farmers. 

Hot weather is no surprise during the late-August exhibition of all things farming.  But the recent dry spell in the Midwest is causing some worries.   Pam Johnson, a Northern Iowa farmer who is president of the National Corn Growers association says that's been the number one concern she's heard from show visitors:

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 29, 2013

My Farm Roots: Born to farm

Despite suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, Steve Quandt still farms outside Grand Island, Neb.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This is the twelfth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

One sign that you have strong farm roots is when your rural road is named for your family.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:42 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Environmental group says drought losses avoidable

Farmer and rancher Gabe Brown in North Dakota cups a spade of his healthy soil.
Chad Sawyer/The SAWYER Agency (courtesy of NRDC)

Farmers across the country received more than $17 billion  in federal crop insurance payouts after last year’s drought. A report released today by an environmental group blames farmers for not doing enough to shield the soil against the heat.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:53 am
Mon August 26, 2013

E85 Popularity up in Iowa.

Credit Dean Borg / IPR

 Iowa’s ultra-high ethonal, E-85, fuel pumps are increasingly popular. Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg reports.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Growing more with less water

Tom Trout, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who focuses on efficient and effective irrigation methods, checks sunflowers on a USDA research plot in Weld County, Colo.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

Climate models and population growth paint a pretty bleak picture for water availability a few decades from now. If farmers want to stay in business, they have to figure out how to do more with less. Enter: super efficient irrigation systems.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Why E85 is the cheapest gas at the pump

At many gas stations in Nebraska and across the Midwest, E85 is the cheapest fuel available. However, only a fraction of cars on the road can use it, and on E85 they get fewer miles to the gallon.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

 

Ilya Protopopov stopped at a U-Stop station in Lincoln, Neb., on his way to the track to fuel up his truck and a few dirt bikes. His fuel of choice, 91 octane unleaded, was selling for $4.01 per gallon.

“I used to complain about $1.50 gas, now it’s over $4,” Protopopov said. “Pretty steep.”

But on the same pump there was another fuel selling for under $3. E85 was going for $2.53.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 22, 2013

My Farm Roots: Winning respect

Danelle Myer launched her vegetable and herb operatioun, One Farm, in the shadow of her parents' row crops.
Amy Mayer/IPR

This is the eleventh installment of the 2013 edition 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.

Danelle Myer owns a small vegetable farm and like many other small farmers, she’s passionate about the kind of operation she wants to grow: a small, local business.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Exploiting the soybean

Ivan Javni displays a soy-based foam produced at the Kansas Polymer Research Center.
Justine Greve for Harvest Public Media

If you think soybeans are just for livestock and vegetarians, think again. 

Increasingly, the commodity is being used in manufacturing — an ingredient in everything from glue to cleaning supplies to even furniture filling.

“Even Henry Ford in the 1930s had built cars using soy oil paint,” said William Schapaugh, an agronomy professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan.  “They were using soy oil in the shock absorbers of the cars.  So that goes back a long time.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Greetings from Midwest state fairs

The Little Hands on the Farm exhibit is a big draw for kids at the Iowa State Fair.
Amy Mayer/IPR

The Iowa, Missouri and Illinios state fairs all wrap up this weekend. Couldn't visit them all? Get a glimpse here.

Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Young farmers dream, but face huge obstacles

Eva Teague, 31, is trying to start her own pig farm but is having trouble breaking in to the business.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

While the farming community continues to age fewer young people are filling the ranks, prompting the question: Do young people even want to farm anymore?

The quick answer is yes, just not in the same numbers as they used to. And surveys indicate many of them don’t want to farm in conventional ways.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Rural town offers civics lesson

Pittsfield, Ill., is dealing with an aging population and what that means for the social fabric of the rural community.
Creative Commons

It’s hard not to use the phrase “quintessential small town” when you describe Pittsfield, Ill. 

The western Illinois community of 4,500 people has a picturesque downtown square with an historic courthouse sitting in the center.  The small city is the county seat of Pike County and for many years has called itself the Pork Capital of the World in homage to an important sector of farming in this region.   Every year the town holds a two day festival known as “Pig Days,” which, true to its name, features pig tail and hog calling contests.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 15, 2013

My Farm Roots: Tough guys in the saddle

Nate Pike has worked the land outside Dodge City, Kan., for most of his 80 years.
Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

 

This is the tenth installment of the 2013 edition 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 and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Retiring to the farm anything but quiet

Jim Schulte and his wife, Rita, bought their 450-acre farm near Columbia, Mo., in 1991, but didn’t start farming full time until Jim finished working in the mortgage business.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma. 

Thomas retired two years ago after teaching exercise physiology for 35 years and he knew what he wanted to do next.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Turmoil in farm transitions

Farm succession plans can strain family relationships. Devan Green rents his family’s farmland and has to answer to family shareholders.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Driving out of the western Iowa town of Panora, the winding roads offer broad vistas of rolling hills. Many of the mailboxes along Redwood Road show the name Arganbright. Jim Arganbright grew up in this area, one of 10 children. He and his wife, Beverly, have eight kids.

Though Jim Arganbright farmed here his whole life, three years ago at the age of 80 he started renting his cropland to his son Tom, the only one of his children who farms full-time. Now, all Jim Arganbright has to worry about is the livestock — and he doesn’t have too much of that.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Aging farmers reluctant to retire, pass on land

The Hawthorn farm has been in the family for four generations since it was founded in the late 1870s by Bob Hawthorn’s great-grandfather who went by the name “Trapper.”
Ray Meints/NET News

Working beyond retirement is a fairly common refrain these days. In 2012, 5 percent of the U.S. workforce was beyond retirement age. But farmers seem to work longer than most. In the last Agriculture Census 25 percent of all farm operators were over 65 years old.

Why do farmers keep working? For one thing, modern machinery makes it easier to work longer.

“It’s more you use your mind rather than your back, so you can go longer,” said Mike Duffy, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:28 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Series from Harvest Public Media Highlights Role of Age in Farming

The Hawthorn farm has been in the family for four generations since it was founded in the late 1870s by Bob Hawthorn’s great-grandfather who went by the name “Trapper.”
Credit Ray Meints / Nebraska Educational Telecommunications

Next week IPR is launching a 5-part series during Morning Edition from Harvest Public Media on the role of age in farming. It's called "Changing Hands, Changing Lands." It includes a television documentary on Iowa Public Television that airs on August 16th.

IPR's Clay Masters spoke with IPR's Harvest Public Media reporter, Amy Mayer, about the series and some of the research and reporting that went into the project. 

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