WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Agriculture

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.

Bryan Thompson for Harvest Public Media

This year was a very good year for growing wheat, but that means it could be a very bad year for wheat farmers.  There's a glut on the global wheat market and prices for winter wheat – which is grown all up and down the Great Plains, from Texas to North Dakota– hit their lowest levels since 2003.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

When shoppers browse meat at the grocery store they are confronted with all kinds of brands and labels, making it hard to tell whether the meat they buy comes from animals that were raised humanely. Organic producers want to answer that question more clearly, but conventional farmers are charging that proposed changes to organic standards would amount to unfair government backing of the organic industry.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Farming in the fertile Midwest is tied to an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists are studying new ways to lessen the Midwest's environmental impact and improve water quality.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Standing on a platform above the eastern bank of the Missouri River at the Kansas City, Missouri, Water Services' intake plant is like being on the deck of a large ship.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a gray day, just as the rain begins to fall, Roger Zylstra stops his red GMC Sierra pick-up truck on the side of the road and hops down into a ditch in Jasper County, Iowa. It takes two such stops before he unearths amid the tall weeds and grasses what he's looking for.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

Living in the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska means understanding that the water in your well may contain high levels of nitrates and may not be safe to drink.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Contaminated drinking water isn't just a problem for Flint, Michigan. Many towns and cities across the Midwest and Great Plains face pollution seeping into their water supplies. A big part of the problem: farming and ranching.

JOSHUAY04-WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A petition drive forced the Illinois Department of Agriculture to hold a public informational meeting on plans to build a large-scale hog farm east of Macomb. But a person who helped spearhead the drive said he isn't necessarily opposed to the farm.

Midwest Farmers Brew Up Hops for Local Craft Beer

Sep 14, 2016
Ariana Brocious for Harvest Public Media

With craft beer booming and local breweries springing up all over the country, Midwest farmers are testing out ways to play a role in the growing market and, in the process, make local beer truly local.

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