WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Harvest Public Media

(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.

(File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

U.S. energy policy that effectively promotes corn ethanol is holding back a generation of more environmentally sound fuels, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Poncie Rutsch for Harvest Public Media

Fort Morgan is a town of about 11,000 people tucked into the farmland of northeastern Colorado. Among its residents are people of Latino and European ancestry, and more recent immigrants, including refugees from eastern Africa.

How Much Corn Could You Pick by Hand in 20 Minutes?

Oct 30, 2015
Abby Wendle

I wiped my palms on my jeans, tugged at the bill of my baseball hat, and took a deep breath. It was my first time competing in the annual Illinois State Corn Husking Contest at the end of September and I was nervous.

A senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a whistleblower complaint on Wednesday accusing the federal agency of suppressing research findings that could call into question the use of a popular pesticide class that is a revenue powerhouse for the agrichemical industry.

(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

Erik Terstriep, perched in the captain's chair of his combine, glides through eight rows of corn at a time. When he lifts up the harvesting head to turn the machine around, it lets out a quick, staccato, "beep, beep, beep." Terstriep is fluent in the language of this machine, able to decipher every chirp.

(Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

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.

Beef, poultry, and pork are staples of the American diet, baked into the country’s very culture, and backbones of the agricultural economy. But lately, the meats have been saddled with some baggage.

(Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media)

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.

While the average American eats hundreds of pounds of meat every year, many U.S. consumers are starting to cut back as health experts learn more about the risk of a diet high in proteins from meat and environmentalists challenge the way most meat is raised.

(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

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.

One of the most important tools of modern medicine is in jeopardy. In the 20th century, antibiotics turned once-lethal infections into manageable diseases. They also contributed to the transformation of meat production in America.

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.

(Courtesy NET Television)

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.

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it.  The typical American puts away around 200 pounds of beef, pork, and poultry every year . That's true in many of the wealthiest countries. But developing countries are showing a growing appetite for meat.

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.

Food Companies Show Concern About Farm Runoff

Sep 22, 2015
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.

Going Organic: More Time, More Money

Aug 11, 2015
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.

(Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

Idaho's so-called "ag-gag" law, which outlawed undercover investigations of farming operations, is no more. A judge in the federal District Court for Idaho decided Monday that it was unconstitutional, citing First Amendment protections for free speech.

But what about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books?

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