Agriculture and Harvest Public Media

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:22 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Drought hurts grain farmers, but hits livestock producers hardest

Tom Woodward Flickr

It’s official: Iowa is deep in the throes of a drought. State climatologist Harry Hillaker is calling it the worst drought since 1988. Yesterday Hillaker joined Governor Branstad at a town hall in Mount Pleasant. Farmers from across the state came to share concerns—but the most worried? It wasn’t those with thirsty grain crops;  it was livestock farmers. 

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:02 am
Wed July 18, 2012

My Farm Roots: Nan Gardiner

Caption: Nan Gardiner (front) with her husband Henry in Ashland, Kan.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

This is the second 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 Rootsstories and to share your own.

It’s not every day that a trip to the drug store can change your destiny.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:43 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

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.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:43 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

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. 

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:38 am
Wed July 11, 2012

My Farm Roots: Kate Edwards

Edwards grows all kinds of vegetables on her plot and delivers whatever is ripe to the participants in her Community Supported Agriculture program.
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.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
1:10 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Farmers question farm bill restrictions

Marc Benson stands in one of his corn fields near Winfield, Iowa.
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.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
10:50 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Water Control Fight Continues Along Missouri River Part 2

Jim Redmond, with the Northwest Iowa Sierra Club, stands along the Missouri River in Sioux City, Iowa. Redmond said the river could handle the rainfall of the 2011 flood, but not when it’s cutoff from the flood plain.
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.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
12:16 am
Thu June 21, 2012

Water Control Fight Continues Along Missouri River

A row of soybeans planted in Missouri river bottom sand and silt near flood damaged grain bins in Atchison County, Missouri. (Photo by Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio)
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.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
3:43 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Language and Agriculture

There is a culture war raging in the heartland. It’s not about abortion or religion or same sex marriage. It’s about how food is produced in this country. As in any war, language is playing a big role.  Now some groups are borrowing from another hot button issue in the news, bullies and bullying.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:15 am
Thu June 7, 2012

ISU Climate Change Expert Briefing USDA on Implications for Agriculture

Iowa State University

Farmers are already making changes to adjust to global warming. A researcher from Iowa State University meets with agriculture officials, including USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in Washington, D.C. Thursday.  ISU Climate Science Program Director Dr. Gene Takle is briefing Vilsack and other officials on how to prepare and plan for global warming.  He says climate change actually has some benefits for farmers, at least in the short-term. But he the greatest risk for the industry is unpredictability and wild fluctuations in weather patterns.

Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
1:00 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Calm before the Corn

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.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:38 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Making it in the Middle: the mid-sized farmer

Eric Neill always wanted to be a farmer. So in 2008, he made the leap, launching a mid-size grazing dairy operation in western Missouri.
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.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
6:54 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Who are you calling a corporate farmer?

Chris Boeckmann grows turkeys for Cargill on his Loose Creek, Mo., farm. But he also raises grass-fed all-natural beef for his private label.
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.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:46 am
Wed May 23, 2012

What does "sustainable" agriculture really mean?

Dan Howell, a farmer-rancher in Marshall County, Kan., is experimenting with his land like an idealistic young farmer.
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.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:27 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Could the 'Farmer of the Future' Be...A Robot?

Brent Ware, a member of the robotics team at Kansas State, stands next to a planting robot that won a national competition.
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

There’s always work to be done on the farm, but often it’s the same work day, after day, after day. Parts of the job must feel a bit like an assembly line.

While it’s impossible to automate farming like many manufacturers have automated their assembly lines, using robotic technology on the farm might not be so far off.

The biological and agricultural engineering robotics team at Kansas State University knows a thing or two about agricultural robots. They’ve won national robotics competitions in each of the last five years.

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Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
7:00 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Farmer of the Future Part 1 - Immigration

Terry van Maanen bought Winding Meadows Dairy from his father in the '80s and has grown it to about 600 cows. He sells milk to Land O Lakes.
Kathleen Masterson/Harvest Public Media

Sioux County, in northwest Iowa, is known for its Dutch pastries. The landscape is dotted with Lutheran and reform churches.  But today, Catholic churches and tortillerias are creeping into the landscape — signs of the new residents joining this vibrant community.

In Sioux County, as in a scattering of communities across the Midwest, Hispanic immigrants are working in meat processing plants, dairies, egg-laying facilities and hog barns. In fact, the majority of U.S. farm laborers today were born outside the U.S.

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Agriculture/HPM
7:44 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Fixing Farmland along the Missouri River

Last fall, officials predicted that farmland along the Missouri River might be out of production for at least a year. The flood of 2011 piled up sand dunes, gouged out deep holes and killed off many of the microbes that help crops grow.

But now it’s spring, and farmers are back on the land trying to fix what nature broke.

There’s something not quite picture-perfect about this picturesque farmland, known as Blackbird Bend, along the Missouri River near Onawa.   A 24-row corn planter is brushing over the tops of an already stunning winter wheat crop, twelve inches high. 

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Agriculture/HPM
8:17 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Early Planting of Lots of Acres Could Mean Record Corn Crop

Across the Corn Belt, farmers are hoping this fall’s harvest could be one for the record books. With planting season already off to a roaring start, farmers say they’re putting in more acres of corn than they have since the Great Depression.

Agriculture/HPM
8:11 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Wild Horses Come to Iowa

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.”

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Around the Nation
9:23 pm
Sun April 22, 2012

Women Take Over The Farm

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.

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Agriculture/HPM
5:30 am
Thu April 12, 2012

For women farmland owners, a place at the (decision-making) table

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.

Agriculture/HPM
5:00 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Governors fight back against so-called "pink slime"

You might have heard the term “pink slime” in the news recently. Now the fear over the so called slime is beginning to have economic effects. This week Beef Products Incorporated, or BPI, temporally closed down a total of three meat processing plants in Kansas, Texas, and Iowa. So the Governors of those states are doing damage control. Thursday they toured the only BPI factory still open, in South Sioux City, Nebraska.

Harvest Public Media/Agriculture
5:00 am
Tue March 27, 2012

Dairy industry pushes for reform

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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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:00 pm
Mon June 28, 2010

Fair weather crops

The effects of severe weather over the weekend continue to be felt today (Tuesday) with wind damage and heavy rain in Northwest Iowa and potential flooding in Central Iowa. Thousands of acres of cropland are underwater in Western Iowa and will not be able to be salvaged, but for farmers in other parts of the state, this week’s sunshine and low humidity is a welcome break. Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank talks with Iowa State University extension agronomist Mark Westgate.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:00 pm
Thu June 10, 2010

National Guard group heading for the agricultural fields of Afghanistan

The Guard's Agribusiness Development Team will work with farmers in northeastern Afghanistan as part of a larger effort to improve the nation's agriculture infrastructure.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:00 pm
Wed April 28, 2010

Farmers' markets sales nearly double in five years

A survey by the Iowa Department of Agriculture shows growth in farmers market sales of 92 percent from 2004 to 2009. Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon talks with State Horticulturalist Mike Bevins.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:00 pm
Wed April 21, 2010

Agri-Star Rising

After a long stretch of dark days, Iowa cattle farmers and residents of Postville say they have a reason to be optimistic. That’s because kosher beef production has resumed at Agri-Star Meat and Poultry. Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank reports.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
11:00 pm
Sun April 11, 2010

Ag Competition

The Obama administration is conducting an unprecedented series of public forums to explore competition in the agriculture industry. For the first time, the departments of justice and agriculture are working together to look into antitrust questions raised by the mergers of seed companies, meatpacking plants and corporate farms. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard reports government officials worry farmers are paying the price for consolidation.

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