Harvest Public Media

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.

Frank Morris for Harvest Public Media

China's rapid industrialization and economic expansion over the past few decades has been a boon for U.S. farmers, especially soybean farmers. But China's economy is slowing down, leaving American farmers exposed to the downside of being tied to the world's second largest economy.

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.

Abby Wendle

Corn and soybeans are the two crops at the center of the U.S. food system. In order to grow massive amounts of the crops, farmers in the Midwest typically apply hundreds of pounds of fertilizer on every acre they farm. This practice allows food companies to produce and consumers to consume a lot of relatively cheap food.

(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Throughout the cropland of the Midwest, farmers use chemicals on their fields to nourish the plants and the soil. But excess nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients can wash off the fields and into streams, rivers and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.  New tools can help farmers monitor their soil and water so they can become part of the solution to this widespread problem.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the Midwest are facing a situation they haven't seen in years. Grain prices are down. After some of the most lucrative growing seasons they've ever seen, some producers could lose money on this year's crop. That could slow down the rural economy.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

After a federal judge struck down an Idaho law that made it illegal to take undercover video on farms and ranches, animal rights groups said they are primed to challenge similar so-called "ag gag" laws across the country.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers and agriculture officials are gearing up for another round of bird flu this fall, an outbreak they fear could be worse than the devastating spring crisis that hit turkeys and egg-laying hens in the Midwest, wiped out entire farms, and sent egg prices sky-high.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Jeff Siegfried knows just about anything you'd ever want to find out about a 50-acre corn field in northern Colorado.  The 24-year-old easily rattles off the various gadgets he uses to measure soil moisture, plant health, and air temperature.

File: Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

To the chagrin of some of the nation's largest farm organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday forged ahead with a plan to oversee more of the nation's waterways, saying it will enforce new pollution rules in all but 13 states covered by an ongoing court case.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn/KUNC

Slaughterhouses and meat packing plants throughout the country employ a lot of people. About a quarter of a million workers in the U.S. stun, kill, and eviscerate the animals we eat. Most of those jobs are physically demanding and require few skills.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Kendra Lawson doesn't have the typical schedule of a nine-year-old.  With just a week of summer left, she spent her days working with her dad and mom on the farm and preparing her pigs to show at the state fair.

Abby Wendle

While consumers might seek out organic food for its purity, organic farmers have a reputation for being anything but. At least, that's the social stigma organic corn and soybean growers face in the Midwest for having mare's tails and pigweeds poking their raggedy heads up through the neat rows of cash crops.

Photo courtesy Andy Ambriole

WIU’s Allison Organic Research and Demonstration Farm’s annual Field Day will be held August 13, 2015 at 9am. Andy Ambriole will give the keynote presentation at 11am at The Dakin Family Farm at 130 20th St., Roseville, IL 61473*. The Allison farm is located 0.7 miles north of the Dakin Farm. Signs will be posted.