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

Chef Camp Teaches Basics of Food Production

Jul 2, 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.

Melanie Hoffert /

Melanie Hoffert grew up on a farm in North Dakota.  Like so many others, she left.  But now she feels torn between the land and people she loves and the freedom to live an authentic life.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Hoffert about her memoir Prairie Silence: A Rural Ex-Patriot's Journey to Reconcile, Home, Love and Faith.  In that book, she describes the month she returned to her family farm to help her father and brother during harvest.  They also discuss what it was like to grow up as a gay woman in rural North Dakota.

Courtesy of Knoxville Regional Livestock Auction

If Russele Sleep wins this year’s World Livestock Auctioneering Championships, he says it would be a huge honor. “I used to go to markets with my dad and watch the auctioneers sell calves. I loved it… winning would be like getting my super bowl ring.”

Wikimedia Commons

In January of 2011 when Ginnie Peters retired from the Perry Public Library, she was looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Matt, but she never really got the chance.

He died of suicide in May of that year.  “One day he told me he had torment in his head, and then the next day he was gone," she says. 

The two farmed 1500 acres between Perry and Panora, Iowa for most of their lives. Today, Peters blames the stress of planning for the future of her husband’s century farm for what happened. 

Emily Woodbury

The battle surrounding meat and livestock production ranks among the longest-waged and hardest fought in American history. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with historian and author, Maureen Ogle. Her new book is titled In Meat We Trust.

A New Way To Raise Beef ?

Jun 13, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank



Ben Kieffer

The spring planting season is upon us and farmers are racing to get crops in the ground.

So yesterday morning, host Ben Kieffer hopped aboard a tractor with Jim Sladek, of JCS Family Farms in Johnson County, to get his perspective on the start of a new season and the challenges he faces, including soil erosion. Jim also demonstrated the amazing amount of technology that can be used in farming today.

Jen Hamilton-Emery

Today on News Buzz Ben Stanton fills in as host.  He tackles Iowa's All-Vet designation, farm accident fatalities and the use of drones in agriculture.

For Farmers Who Rent, 2014 Could Be a Tough Year

Feb 10, 2014

With the price of farmland at record levels across the Corn Belt, many farmers have been renting acres to plant. Now, with the price of corn and soybeans in freefall, farmers that depend on renting risk big losses if they’re unable to negotiate lower rents.

Emily Woodbury

The battle surrounding meat and livestock production ranks among the longest-waged and hardest fought in American history. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with historian and author, Maureen Ogle. Her new book is titled In Meat We Trust.

Shrimp Harvest in Iowa

Dec 19, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

A Cedar Falls man, his wife and brother have launched the state's second shrimp farm. Matt Weichers, his wife Jen and brother John Gielau are raising thousands of Pacific white shrimp in a warehouse near UNI. The building once housed the university's white rat lab used for behavioral research. Now it's filled with 30 blue "hot tubs" and thousands of the critters ready for sale this week.  

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

One of the companies banking on Iowa’s wind energy industry is Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based operation with plans to build five large-scale high voltage transmission lines in the country. As Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reports, one of those lines would traverse Iowa, and it starts in the northwest corner of the state. 

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

Today is World Food Day.  Observed every year since 1981, it focuses on the problem of hunger around the globe.  Also, this week is the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines and some of the most innovative thinkers in the fight against hunger have come to Iowa.

I-5 Design & Manufacture

Recent movements addressing the obesity epidemic or industrial agriculture's dominance attempt to change how Americans eat.  Tracie McMillan sets out to understand the American food system from the bottom-up in  her book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at WalMart, Applebees, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.”  Host Charity Nebbe asks McMillan where our food comes from and how we can eat healthier. 

Trevor Manternach / Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer discusses this year's Farm Progress Show with Harvest Public Media reporter Bill Wheelhouse, Iowa State University Professor horticulturalist Kathleen Delate and organic farmer Grant Schultz.   Also, this month the last group of secret recordings Richard Nixon made while president were rele

Going Going Gone

Jul 30, 2013
Courtesy photo

A new report out Tuesday shows millions of wetland acres and highly erodible grassland and prairie are being plowed under and planted into row crops. This in turn causes intense soil erosion especially in a wet spring like this year. The four year, multi state study was conducted by Environmental Working Group.

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.

Photo by Phil Roeder

Many farmers' markets in Iowa have grown over the last couple decades.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with market directors from around the state to hear about why that has happened.  She hears from Director of the Downtown Farmers' Market in Des Moines Kelly Foss, Cedar Falls Farmers' Market Master Joe Bohr, and Washington Farmers' Market Master Bob Shepherd.  Also, get to the heart of the matter with author of "Farmers' Markets of the Heartland" Janine MacLachlan, who traveled to eight Midwestern states to document her farmers' market tour.

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.

Flickr / ekornblut

How do you stop plans for a new housing subdivision near your property? Well, how about starting a hog operation right next to it? That's exactly what some residents north of Iowa City are doing.  Today on "River to River" we'll hear from both sides of the feud.

We'll also visit a hog confinement to find out where your bacon comes from.  We'll also hear pro and con voices concerning concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs.

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

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.

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.

Theresa Wysocki / Flickr

A lot of Iowa farmers use a two-year rotation of corn one year and soybeans the next. But what if a longer rotation could yield better crops and was good for the soil? Host Charity Nebbe talks with researchers from Iowa State University whose research found longer crop rotations improved the crops and reduced fertilizer runoff.


Roundup resistance leading to more chemicals, study finds

Oct 17, 2012

Farmers and weeds are in a constant competition. When the herbicide called Roundup came along, farmers got a clear edge. But now weeds are beginning to catch up. Grant Gerlock of Harvest Public Media has more on how Roundup-resistant weeds are changing the game.

Cover Crops Use Expanding

Oct 12, 2012
Amy Mayer

While many farmers were bringing in this year’s harvest, they also were planting.  Cover crops—like oats and winter rye—are becoming more popular, despite the time and expense involved in growing green fields that won’t ever make money—directly.  Together with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer explains why.

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. 

My Farm Roots: Nathan Dorn

Sep 26, 2012
Camille Phillips / Harvest Public Media

Down a stretch of rural highway and country roads lined with fields, about an hour south of Lincoln, Neb., lies the Dorn family farm. That’s where Nathan Dorn grew up, where his grandfather farmed before him and where his father, uncles and cousin now farm beside him.

Dorn’s strong ties to the land made the decision to continue the family tradition of farming an easy one. But it also leaves him feeling misunderstood by the average American.