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Shoppers, check your receipts when you buy Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. It’s likely the total cost will be the lower that what you paid in 2013.

In the hopes of not repeating a problematic year for soybean crops, farmers across the U.S. are deciding how best to protect their crops and their livelihood next year from drift damage caused by the weed killer dicamba.

The World Health Organization released recommendations this week to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock, saying it could help reduce the risk of drug-resistant infections in humans.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says some of the guidelines from the United Nations’ public health agency would place “unnecessary and unrealistic constraints” on farmers and veterinarians. It's a disagreement that could have an impact on farm exports.

Burkey Farms in southeast Nebraska looked into the future a couple of years ago and didn’t like what it saw — a continuation of depressed prices for conventional corn and soybeans. So, the families who run the farm together started discussing how the operation would make money if they couldn’t earn more from their crops.  

Their conversation took a turn toward organics, a $40 billion industry and growing, especially in Iowa and Colorado.

Updated 12:30 p.m. Nov. 2 — Sam Clovis, who ran President Donald Trump's campaign in Iowa, has withdrawn his nomination to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientist position. Clovis was linked this week to the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Clovis sent Trump a letter, dated Nov. 1, that says the political climate "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position" during his Nov. 9 Senate confirmation hearing.

Plant breeder Jessica Barb is on a mission to improve how sunflowers self-pollinate, a trait that'll be increasingly important to farmers are wild bee populations diminish. Her research tool of choice: a paper towel. 

There’s a genetic technology that scientists are eager to apply to food, touting its possibilities for things like mushrooms that don’t brown and pigs that are resistant to deadly diseases.

And food industry groups, still reeling from widespread protests against genetically engineered corn and soybeans (aka GMOs) that have made it difficult to get genetically engineered food to grocery store shelves, are looking to influence public opinion.

A new report suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should consider lowering the legal limit in drinking water for nitrates, a chemical often connected to fertilizer use.

People who drink water with elevated, but not illegal, levels of nitrates could be at an increased risk of kidney, ovarian and bladder cancer, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group asserts. But a University of Iowa researcher who studies nitrate contamination says the connection to cancer is inconsistent and other chemicals may be involved.

As soybean and cotton farmers across the Midwest and South continue to see their crops ravaged from the weed killer dicamba, new complaints have pointed to the herbicide as a factor in widespread damage to oak trees.

Monsanto and BASF, two of agriculture’s largest seed and pesticide providers, released versions of the dicamba this growing season. The new versions came several months after Monsanto released its latest cotton and soybean seeds genetically engineered to resist dicamba in 2016. Since then, farmers across the Midwest and South have blamed drift from dicamba for ruining millions of acres of soybeans and cotton produced by older versions of seeds.

Now, complaints have emerged that the misuse of dicamba may be responsible for damage to oak trees in Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee.

Galen Fick milks 50 Brown Swiss cows every day on his farm in Boyden, Iowa, where his family has been in the dairy business for generations. Life as a dairy farmer has gotten harder and harder, he says, especially in the past two years.

 

“Our inputs have gone up so much, not the feed part of it but everything else,” he says, pointing to veterinary care and, especially, labor. “For us to make that profit, [it] makes it very tough.”

Bram Sable-Smith/Side Effects Public Media

When Sarah Scantling went into labor this summer, she had to drive 30 miles and across state lines.  Three years earlier, the only maternity ward where she lives in Pemiscot County, Missouri closed down. Scantling had to choose between a handful of other hospitals in the region between 20 and 70 miles away.

Frank Morris for Harvest Public Media

If you pull a fire alarm in any large U.S. city, it's likely that paid firefighters waiting at a nearby station will quickly respond. But seven out of ten American firefighters are volunteers. They cover vast sections of the country, making up an aging network that is increasingly understaffed and overworked.

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

$750,000 for payroll. $500,000 for a bond payment. $1.25 million total. One August day in 2013, the hospital’s CEO Kerry Noble had to face facts: The money just wasn’t there. It took an emergency bailout from a local bank to keep their doors open. For now.

Alex Smith for Harvest Public Media

Tammy Wilson loved the outdoors and was happy to spend her days working at Meramec State Park in the central part of Missouri.  Her family often stopped by to see her, most recently at the end of May.

The herbicide dicamba is thought to have been the culprit in more than 3 million acres of damaged soybeans across the country, destroying plants and leaving farmers out millions of dollars in crops.

The chemical has been in use for decades, so why is it today apparently causing farms so much damage?

Applying large amounts of pesticides to farm fields can have negative effects on babies born to mothers living nearby, according to new research.

A new study found that staple crops like corn and wheat, which provide a large proportion of the world’s calories and U.S. farmers’ output, will likely see negative impacts from rising global temperatures.

Update 8/25/17: The Amazon-Whole Foods merger passed a key hurdle after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission decided the grocery deal would not hamper competition or provide an unfair advantage.

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In June, the online retail giant Amazon announced a deal that showed its latest ambition: to completely change how America gets its food.

The latest step toward that goal is a proposed merger with Whole Foods Market, worth nearly $14 billion. For years Amazon has been making moves and launching programs to make food a bigger part of its business.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Imagine going to the grocery store for dinner, not to pick up a rotisserie chicken to take home but to actually eat at the store. As online grocery shopping grows, many supermarkets are adding sit-down restaurants --  and the trend is changing how food retail and food service work together.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

During the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, spectators will turn their eyes upward to see the moon pass in front of the sun. But many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras to the plants and animals here on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

File: Stephanie Paige Ogburn for Harvest Public Media

It has been a rough few months for the world's largest meat company.  Known for its rapid expansion across the globe, Brazil-based meatpacking giant JBS has been embroiled in scandal for much of 2017.

File photo: Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Chemical runoff from Midwest farm fields is contributing to the largest so-called "dead zone" on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Of all the expensive machinery Tom Giessel worked during the 2017 wheat harvest, his favorite sits in the office of his home.

Brad Austion / Flatland

The families of six men killed when a grain elevator blew up in 2011 have now waited well over five and a half years for closure in the case. But they say the hurt is still raw; for them, it could have happened yesterday.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Schools in rural districts often don't have the budget or the teachers to offer students all of the courses they would like to take. One rural district in a Missouri county decided to offer credit for online classes in an effort to give its students the educational opportunities it can't otherwise afford.

Alex Smith/for Harvest Public Media

24 year old Kalee Woody says that when she was growing up in Bronaugh, Missouri, she saw the small town slowly fading. Businesses closed, growth stagnated, and residents had to drive to other places to see a doctor.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The Missouri Department of Agriculture on Friday announced a temporary ban on the sale of agricultural products containing the pesticide dicamba, following a similar step by regulators in Arkansas.

Zoe Moffett / Colorado College

See a bee; hear a buzz.  That is what researchers studying the declining bee population are banking on.  A new technique based on recording buzzing bees hopes to show farmers just how much pollinating the native bee population is doing in their fields.  

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

As Highway 30 enters Denison, Iowa, a city of 8,000, the national fast food chains stand next to Mexican groceries and restaurants. In this small city near the Nebraska border, waves of immigrants have been arriving since at least the 1980s.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Brandon Biesemeier climbs up a small ladder into a John Deere sprayer, takes a seat in the enclosed cab, closes the door, and blocks out most of the machine's loud engine hum. It is a familiar perch to the fourth-generation farmer on Colorado’s eastern plains.

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