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Agriculture

File: Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country's most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This summer in cornfields in Iowa and Nebraska, about a thousand small point-and-shoot digital cameras will be enclosed in waterproof cases, mounted on poles, and attached to solar-powered battery chargers. They will take pictures every ten minutes as plants grow; all part of a plan to create better seeds.

Courtesy Bruce Tuten / Flickr

Three months into his term, President Donald Trump now has in place his Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Here's what you need to know:

Earl Dotter / Oxfam

Pushed by worker advocates and growing consumer awareness, Tyson Foods on Wednesday promised better conditions for workers at its meat processing plants.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A new tractor often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but not included in that price: the right to repair it. That has put farmers on the front lines of a battle pitting consumers against the makers of all kinds of consumer goods, from tractors to refrigerators to smart phones.  

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Hybrid seed corn and nitrogen fertilizer transformed farming in the 20th century, but they are also closely tied to some of today's major agricultural challenges. That has prompted some members of two families that played pivotal roles in developing farm innovations to work on putting a lighter, 21st century stamp on the landscape.

File: NET Nebraska

The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has been very good to many Midwest agriculture producers. That’s why many farmers and ranchers are nervous about President Donald Trump's promise to either completely dismantle, or at least renegotiate, the free-trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Rural voters overwhelmingly chose President Donald Trump in the presidential election. But when it comes to the central campaign promise to get tough on trade, rural voters are not necessarily in sync with the administration.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don't reflect the nation's demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system's greatest challenges.

Rich Egger

A group of Illinois legislators is pushing an agenda intended to help farmers who sell at local markets. The legislation covers a variety of issues.

Bryan Thompson for Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Liz Graznak runs an organic farm in Jamestown, Missouri, which she calls Happy Hollow Farm. She sells her vegetables to local restaurants, in CSA boxes, and at the farmer’s market.  But eight years ago, after falling in love with the idea of growing her own local produce, the farm she runs today looked like a near-impossible dream.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a clear, cold winter evening, the sun begins to set at Lost Lake Farm near Jewell, Iowa, and Kevin Dietzel calls his 15 dairy cows to come home.  "Come on!" he hollers in a singsong voice, "Come on!"

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A war is brewing over what you pour on your breakfast cereal.  Dairy farmers say the makers of plant-based milks – such as almond milk, soy milk and a long list of other varieties – are stealing away their customers and deceiving consumers. And they would like the federal government to back them up.

Watch: How Farmers are Trying to Protect the Soil

Jan 31, 2017
Jack Williams for Harvest Public Media

What's old is new again, at least on some Midwest farms.  Winter cover crops have been used by farmers for centuries, but over the last decade or so they have once again started to become more popular.

File: Grace Hood for Harvest Public Media

Update 1/25/2017: The Agricultural Research Servicerescinded its initial directive in an email to employees Tuesday evening.

Jesse Howe for Harvest Public Media

Drones are not just a hot gift item or a weapon for use by the military. They're also helping farmers change the landscape of agriculture. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.  While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. 

usembassy_montevideo/Flickr

President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, a transition official and a source close to the process confirmed to NPR.

Courtesy Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they'll be struggling just to break even.

Fred Knapp for Harvest Public Media

A proposal that would jumpstart the chicken business in one Midwestern state has some residents concerned about the potential impact on the environment. They're trying to block or delay its construction.

T.J. Carson

Ron Moore of Roseville became the president of the American Soybean Association this month.  He will serve a one year term as president and then take over as the chairman of the Association's Board of Directors.

Rich Egger

Fantasy farming gives high school students from western Illinois a chance to learn firsthand about the guesswork and gambles that farmers make every year.

File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Bacteria containing a gene that confers resistance to an important class of antibiotics have been found at a swine farm in the U.S., raising the troubling concern that one of the last lines of defense against hard-to-fight infections might be failing.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Fewer young attorneys are choosing to set up shop in small towns and take over for retiring professionals. Just like the shortages of doctors, nurses, dentists, even farmers, many rural areas are seeing a shortage of young lawyers.

Joshuay4/Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has cleared the way for a farm with 4,900 hogs to be built near Macomb.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

With the legal battle raging over the implementation of controversial Obama Administration clean water rules, the next president will likely face the daunting task of formulating a comprehensive plan to cut-down on water pollution from Midwest farms.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

After dueling reviews of research studies, scientific panels from the U.S. government and the World Health Organization are having a hard time agreeing whether glyphosate, the most common weed killer in the United States, can cause cancer. Known by the brand name RoundUp, glyphosate is sprayed on farm fields and lawns all across the country.

Trump: John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio, Clinton: Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

While the third and final presidential debate set for Wednesday evening will surely be marked by the candidates' disagreements, a forum debating their positions on food and farm issues Wednesday morning was notable for showcasing where the nominees agree.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

When farmers put nitrogen fertilizer on their fields, it soaks down into the soil and turns into nitrates that feed crops. But when there are too many nitrates, water from rain or irrigation carries those extra nutrients past the point where roots can reach and eventually to the aquifer below.

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