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The "Growing Threat" Of Agricultural Espionage

Jun 13, 2017
University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability / Flickr

As a group of visiting scientists prepared to board a plane in Hawaii that would take them back home to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage. Those seeds are likely to land at least one scientist in federal prison.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A leading research center focused on local farmers and environmental conservation is hanging on by a thread, even as the movement to diversify agriculture -- which it helped launch -- continues to thrive.

File: Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country's most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This summer in cornfields in Iowa and Nebraska, about a thousand small point-and-shoot digital cameras will be enclosed in waterproof cases, mounted on poles, and attached to solar-powered battery chargers. They will take pictures every ten minutes as plants grow; all part of a plan to create better seeds.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and ranchers, with their livelihoods intimately tied to weather and the environment, might not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump Administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

Frank Morris / For Harvest Public Media

There have always been Americans worried about some pending religious, social, or natural cataclysm. The business of catering to those fears and helping people prepare to survive the next big calamity, though, has changed substantially in the age of President Donald Trump.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

At the public library in the rural Morgan County town of Brush, Colorado, Marissa Velazquez welcomes her students to class. It's a sunny Saturday morning, and today marks the halfway point in Velazquez's class, a ten-week crash course on American history, civics and English.

Courtesy Bruce Tuten / Flickr

Three months into his term, President Donald Trump now has in place his Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Here's what you need to know:

Earl Dotter / Oxfam

Pushed by worker advocates and growing consumer awareness, Tyson Foods on Wednesday promised better conditions for workers at its meat processing plants.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A new tractor often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but not included in that price: the right to repair it. That has put farmers on the front lines of a battle pitting consumers against the makers of all kinds of consumer goods, from tractors to refrigerators to smart phones.  

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Hybrid seed corn and nitrogen fertilizer transformed farming in the 20th century, but they are also closely tied to some of today's major agricultural challenges. That has prompted some members of two families that played pivotal roles in developing farm innovations to work on putting a lighter, 21st century stamp on the landscape.

File: NET Nebraska

The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has been very good to many Midwest agriculture producers. That’s why many farmers and ranchers are nervous about President Donald Trump's promise to either completely dismantle, or at least renegotiate, the free-trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

File: Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Though there have not been any U.S. cases of the strain of avian flu that has killed more than 140 people in China this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's head veterinarian says the agency is making preparations to combat the deadly virus in case it reaches North America. 

USEMBASSY_MONTEVIDEO/FLICKR

President Donald Trump's pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, testified in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture committee today, but remains far from the head job at USDA.

David Keohn / NET News

"For most of our trafficking victims this is kind of where we're going to start," says Jamie Manzer, as she gives a tour of the SASA (Spouse Abuse Sexual Assault) Crisis Center, where she worked until recently.

File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto said it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Rural voters overwhelmingly chose President Donald Trump in the presidential election. But when it comes to the central campaign promise to get tough on trade, rural voters are not necessarily in sync with the administration.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don't reflect the nation's demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system's greatest challenges.

Joe Wertz/StateImpact Oklahoma

On a brisk and busy January morning at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, cattle arrive for auction in trailers pulled by pickup trucks — and leave in double-decker cars towed by semis.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they're working toward.

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.

File: Grace Hood for Harvest Public Media

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's main research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), received an email from the division's chief of staff ordering them to stop publicizing their work.

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.

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