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Amy Mayer

Harvest Public Media Reporter

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also  previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth.  She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times,  Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.

Amy has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Wellesley College and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Amy’s favorite public radio program is The World.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a cold windy morning, Kelly Nissen feeds the cows at the Iowa State University Beef Nutrition Farm north of Ames. Far from just tossing hay, he weighs out specific rations and carefully delivers them to numbered feed bunks.

On a cold windy morning, Kelly Nissen feeds the cows at the Iowa State University Beef Nutrition Farm. He weighs out specific rations and carefully delivers them to numbered feed bunks.

"When you're feeding, you're always double-checking yourself to make sure it's going in the right lot," Nissen says. It's important — because these cows munch on more than just the common mix of hay, corn and distiller's grain. They're also charged with testing out different formulas developed by the researchers in the animal science department at Iowa State.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Newly published research shows the pig virus that swept through the United States beginning in 2013 and killed more than six million piglets could survive a trip around the world if it catches the right ride.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Hundreds of lawsuits against seed company Syngenta could develop into a major class-action potentially involving almost every corn farmer in the country.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

A major player in the U.S. ethanol market is filing for bankruptcy, following pressure from Midwest corn suppliers who say they're owed millions of dollars. 

Programa Nacional de Acrídios/Senasa

The normally dry northern region of Argentina has a problem of biblical proportions.  Farmers there are struggling with a massive outbreak of locusts. Dark clouds of the green-brown bugs cast shadows when they fly overhead and when they land, they cover the ground.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

For almost a year, presidential candidates have been crisscrossing Iowa, wooing voters in a state that relies on agriculture for about one-third of its economy. But even here, most voters live in cities or suburbs and don't have a first-hand connection to the farm.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The time is ripe for the sharing economy in farm country.  Much like other Web-based companies such as Airbnb or Uber, a site dedicated to leasing and using farm equipment is making available expensive machinery during the times producers need it most. And the idea is taking root as crop and livestock prices trend lower and costs climb higher.

Greg Stevenson, ISU

A fast-spreading virus never before seen in the United States hit the pork industry more than two years ago, racking up roughly $1 billion in losses and spiking prices for consumers.

file: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

A proposed merger between two giants of American business, DuPont and Dow, could ultimately result in an agricultural company more focused on farmers than either is today.

file: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Many corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest are receiving their first government payments under the new Farm Bill enacted last year, and taxpayers are spending more than projected.

(File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Cage-free eggs could be coming to a breakfast near you.

Several large food companies and restaurants, from Starbucks to McDonald’s to Kellogg’s, announced timelines this year for phasing out eggs laid in conventional cages, a victory for animal welfare advocates who have pushed for changes for years.

(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

All week, Harvest Public Media's series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

One of the most important tools of modern medicine is in jeopardy. In the 20th century, antibiotics turned once-lethal infections into manageable diseases. They also contributed to the transformation of meat production in America.

(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Throughout the cropland of the Midwest, farmers use chemicals on their fields to nourish the plants and the soil. But excess nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients can wash off the fields and into streams, rivers and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.  New tools can help farmers monitor their soil and water so they can become part of the solution to this widespread problem.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers and agriculture officials are gearing up for another round of bird flu this fall, an outbreak they fear could be worse than the devastating spring crisis that hit turkeys and egg-laying hens in the Midwest, wiped out entire farms, and sent egg prices sky-high.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Walk down a grocery store aisle today and you're likely to find lots of food -- and lots of marketing claims. Whether a product's label says it's low in fat, produced without hormones, or a good source of protein is largely governed by consumer demand and corporate profit.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The packaged foods found in supermarkets, convenience stores and vending machines are full of ingredients you often cannot pronounce.  They've been carefully developed and tested in a lab and likely have been shipped long distances. They can hold up to weeks or even months on the shelf.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The local food scene has exploded in recent years, which means there's a lot more local produce on dinner tables. It also means that during the spring season as small farms start ramping back up, they have to work a bit harder to attract new customers.

File: Kathleen Masterson/Harvest Public Media

As the number of farms hit with avian flu grows to more than 100 nationwide, regulators are implementing containment plans meant to stop the virus' spread, spare millions of at-risk birds, and thousands of poultry farms.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

It’s planting time for Midwest farmers and much of the corn they grow will end up feeding livestock in China, which has become a huge importer of grain from the Corn Belt. That means the farmers can’t just select seeds based on which ones will get the best yield. They have to think about where their grain will be sold.

There’s a new stop on the Iowa campaign trail. This weekend, many presidential hopefuls will be in Des Moines for the first Iowa Ag Summit. Republican donor Bruce Rastetter, who is the CEO of Summit Farms and president of the Iowa Board of Regents, is hosting the event.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Across the Corn Belt, farmers are signing up for Farm Bill support programs and which ones they choose will impact the overall price tag for taxpayers.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Bacon and pork chops could become cheaper this year thanks, in part, to fewer pigs getting sick with the virus that devastated hog farms in 2014.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Since a highly contagious strain of bird flu was found in the U.S. in December, many countries have closed their doors to chickens and turkeys raised here.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

In a dimly-lit lab on the Des Moines, Iowa, public schools’ agricultural science campus, students in aprons, safety goggles and plastic gloves poke and probe chicken wings.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Bear Creek Dairy in Brooklyn, Iowa, is home to more than 1,100 cows, who provide about 100,000 pounds of milk each day.  The 15-year-old farmer who works closely with the farm’s calves comes from a long line of dairymen – in Europe.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a wet, grey day in Grinnell, Iowa, the rain beats a rhythm on the metal roof of a packing shed at Grinnell Heritage Farm.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

You might have noticed when grilling steaks or hot dogs this summer that they cost more than they did last year.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

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.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

More than 90 percent of U.S. field corn is genetically modified, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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