WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Agriculture

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.

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.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

GMOs, or more precisely, genetically-engineered crops, are lightning rods in discussions of our food. For the farmers who grow them and the scientists who create them, they're a wonder of technology. For those opposed, the plants represent all that's wrong with modern agriculture.

Alex Hanson/Flickr

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he opposes federal measures that would bar states from requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients.

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.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The middle of winter is when the stream of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the Midwest begins to freeze up.  Nicole Saville knows first-hand. Saville is the produce manager at the grocery co-op Open Harvest.

Restoring Prairie on the Great Plains

Feb 1, 2016
Courtesy Prairie Plains Resource Institute

From the air, the Midwest looks like a patchwork of cropland and pastures. But before the land was turned over to plows and center pivots, most of it was a sea of grass. 

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.

The Rising Energy Costs of Convenience in the Kitchen

Jan 21, 2016
Leigh Paterson for Harvest Public Media

To make or not to make a homemade pie?  That is a classic holiday dilemma. Do you take the easy way out and buy a fairly decent frozen pie, or do you risk making your own and possibly end up with a burnt and lumpy version?

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

By some estimates, producing our food consumes about a fifth of the nation's energy supply. It takes a lot of diesel to move tractors and semis around the farm, and electricity to pump water and dry grain. But some farmers are trying to cut back on the coal and gas they use and make our food system more energy efficient.

Courtesy of Pipestone Veterinary Services

Veterinarian and researcher Scott Dee doesn't much look the part of a detective, in his jeans and company polo shirt.  But when a virus never before seen in North America swept through the network of hog farms where he works, Pipestone Veterinary Services, in January 2014, he had his first clue.

File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs on more than $1 billion-worth of U.S. goods as a way to compensate for losses brought on by a U.S. labeling law.

Tim Sackton, Flickr

Despite the bird flu epidemic that devastated Midwest turkey farmers this spring, the price of a turkey this Thanksgiving is a little cheaper than last year. This years turkeys are ringing up one cent less per pound than in 2014, according to the USDA’s most recent numbers.

(Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)

A new trade deal aimed at cutting thousands of taxes and opening markets with 11 Pacific Rim nations has drawn heavy lobbying from some of America's largest agribusinesses.  The deal -- known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- was reached in early October. 

(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.

(Photo courtesy of Colorado State University Photography)

Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture, food and natural resource sectors each year for the next five years, according to a report from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The American agriculture industry has a problem though; there are not enough grads to fill them. The report projects about two open jobs for every qualified graduate. That’s left the USDA, land grant universities and private industry scrambling to try and bridge the gap.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Des Moines, Iowa, made news this year when the city announced it would sue three counties in a legal battle over fertilizer. The city's water supply from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers often surpasses the legal limit for nitrates (10 mg/L), which commonly appear in water contaminated by runoff from farm fields.

(Data: Nancy Rabalais, LUMCON; R Eugene Turner, LSU. Credit: NOAA)

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico grabs the media's attention every summer when scientists funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) boat around the Gulf, taking its annual measurement. This year, it was bigger than expected at 6,474  square miles - roughly the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. 

Grant Gerlock /Harvest Public Media

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Abby Wendle

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.

Drive down a dirt road, a two-lane country highway, even many Interstates in the Midwest and the view out the window is likely to get monotonous: massive fields filled with acres of corn sprawled in all directions.

Logan Layden for Harvest Public Media

Generations of tilling and planting on the same land have left the nation's soil in poor shape. And if farmers don't change the way they grow crops, feeding the future won't be easy.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

After years of work, U.S. negotiators on Monday announced agreement on a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations that is expected to expand export opportunities for U.S. farmers. The 11 countries included in the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, already import some 42 percent of U.S. agricultural exports at a value of $63 billion, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Courtesy The Land Institute

Wes Jackson sees agriculture as a problem. That's because it requires plowing, which leads to soil erosion. It also plants large tracts of land with a single species of crop, using large-scale application of pesticides and fertilizer.

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