WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Agriculture

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.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

In an effort to turn away from chemical pesticides, which have the potential to damage the environment, some farmers are looking in a new direction in the age-old, quiet struggle on farm fields of farmers versus pests. They're warding off intruding insects and noxious weeds with bugs and chickens.

Watch: The Insect Factory that Breeds Better Bugs

Aug 31, 2016
Dan Garrison for Harvest Public Media

Halfway down a dead-end road in the small farming town of Palisade, Colorado, is the research facility known as “The Insectary.”  Scientists at the lab develop "biocontrol insects," insects adapted to attacking bugs and plants harmful to agriculture. 

File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to examine proposed mergers among agricultural chemical and seed companies in a September hearing.

Joshuay04-Wikimedia Commons

A pork producer plans to build a hog farm in McDonough County. Tri Oak Foods, based in Oakville, IA, has chosen a 1.5 acre site south of U.S. Highway 136 and about four miles east of Macomb.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Growing up on a family farm in West Bend, Iowa, Haley Banwart and her brother were like other farm kids. They did chores, participated in 4-H, and even raised cattle together.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

In a brightly-lit lab at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, workers with tweezers hunch over petri dishes scattered with sprouted sorghum seeds. Sorghum produces grain and also a sugary stalk.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

The Lee County Fair is the oldest county fair in Iowa, dating back to the mid-1800's. Thousands of local kids have participated in a wide range of friendly competitions on the fairgrounds in Donnellson during the past 175 years, including more than 150 in 2016.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Peggy Fogle and her dog, Abe, walk among rows of aronia berry bushes on the family property outside Carlisle, Iowa. Plants on the ends of rows are smaller from years of being nibbled by deer and rabbits.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

The big flocks of snow geese flying over the Midwest each spring and fall may make for a pretty picture, but the booming population of those fluffy, noisy, white birds is creating an environmental disaster in Canada. And it's partially thanks to decisions made by Midwest farmers. 

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

The meatpacking plants that enable American consumers to find cheap hamburger and chicken wings in the grocery store are among the most dangerous places to work in the country. Federal regulators and meat companies agree more must be done to make slaughterhouses safer, and while there are signs the industry is stepping up its efforts, danger remains.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska. He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call "the chain" – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

Dan Boyce/Rocky Mountain PBS for Harvest Public Media

On the worst day of Greta Horner's life, she was dressed in a burlap robe, waiting by the window for her husband to come home from work.

Kristi Koser for Harvest Public Media

At the grocery store, processed foods such as cereal, crackers, and candy usually maintain the same price for a long time, and inch up only gradually. Economists call these prices "sticky" because they don't move much even as some of the commodities that go into them do.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The country's top agriculture official, Tom Vilsack, is declining to comment on some of the largest  mergers the farm economy has ever seen.

The Macomb Farmers Market is Back -- with Changes

May 24, 2016
Breanna Descourouez

For many years, the Macomb Farmers Market has sold fruit, vegetables, baked goods, and more on Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on the courthouse square.  This year it has added Tuesdays to the schedule in June, July, and August. The Tuesday market will be open from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. in Chandler Park.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The population of Northern Colorado is booming. People are flocking to the area and population numbers are on the rise.  The same thing is happening with dairy cows.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Turn on the TV and you can barely escape it: presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle deriding free trade agreements, like the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers, according to politicians from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.

Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media

Aubrey Fletcher knew she wanted to work on a dairy farm ever since she was a little girl.  "I do remember my mom asking, 'Are you sure that’s what you want to do?'" Fletcher recalls.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Charles Bassett wants you to buy hamburgers made from his Missouri cows. That’s why the Missouri rancher wants to pay an extra dollar into an industry-created fund every time he sells one of his cattle.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says he supports one of Illinois' top industries: Agriculture. But critics say a recent plan goes against his own assertion that he's a “strong advocate” for it.

When Rivers Can't be Controlled, Farmers are Left in Limbo

Mar 23, 2016
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson for Harvest Public Media

Driving along rough and muddy gravel roads next to what was once a rich soybean field, farmer Adam Thomas gazes out on an upended mess of tubes, wheels, and hoses from a nearby farmer's irrigation system.

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.

Galesburg Gamble on Land Pays Off

Mar 8, 2016
Rich Egger

Galesburg aldermen came out on top after gambling on whether more money could be raised through renting land the city owns near Knoxville.

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