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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.

Courtesy Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they'll be struggling just to break even.

Bryan Thompson for Harvest Public Media

School lunch has long been a target of jokes. Those jokes turned to complaints from students and parents alike in 2012 when new congressionally mandated nutrition standards took effect.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A doctor handed Melissa Morris her first opioid prescription when she was 20. She had a cesarean section to deliver her daughter, and to relieve post-surgical pain her doctor sent her home with Percocet. On an empty stomach, she took one pill and laid down on her bed.

Fred Knapp for Harvest Public Media

A proposal that would jumpstart the chicken business in one Midwestern state has some residents concerned about the potential impact on the environment. They're trying to block or delay its construction.

Ethanol Spills on the Rise in the Midwest

Dec 13, 2016
Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

An ethanol spill occurs every two days on average in the Midwest, the worst of which result in contamination of water supplies, major fish kills, loss of life, and millions of dollars of damage.

File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Bacteria containing a gene that confers resistance to an important class of antibiotics have been found at a swine farm in the U.S., raising the troubling concern that one of the last lines of defense against hard-to-fight infections might be failing.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Fewer young attorneys are choosing to set up shop in small towns and take over for retiring professionals. Just like the shortages of doctors, nurses, dentists, even farmers, many rural areas are seeing a shortage of young lawyers.

File: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Can food be organic even if it’s not grown in soil?  Many hydroponic growers in the U.S. want access to the $40 billion organic market, but a board that advises the U.S. Agriculture Department on organic industry policy signaled Friday it would recommend excluding from the federal program any produce not in grown in soil.

file: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Five of the six biggest companies that produce and sell seeds and chemicals to the world's farmers are pursuing deals that could leave a market dominated by just three giant, global companies. They say getting bigger means bringing more sophisticated and innovative solutions to farmers faster, but opponents say consolidation has irreversible downsides.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The massive industry that supplies farmers with the tools to raise crops is on the brink of a watershed moment. High-profile deals that would see some of the largest global agri-chemical companies combine are in the works and could have ripple effects from farm fields to dinner tables across the globe.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

With the legal battle raging over the implementation of controversial Obama Administration clean water rules, the next president will likely face the daunting task of formulating a comprehensive plan to cut-down on water pollution from Midwest farms.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

After dueling reviews of research studies, scientific panels from the U.S. government and the World Health Organization are having a hard time agreeing whether glyphosate, the most common weed killer in the United States, can cause cancer. Known by the brand name RoundUp, glyphosate is sprayed on farm fields and lawns all across the country.

Trump: John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio, Clinton: Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

While the third and final presidential debate set for Wednesday evening will surely be marked by the candidates' disagreements, a forum debating their positions on food and farm issues Wednesday morning was notable for showcasing where the nominees agree.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

When farmers put nitrogen fertilizer on their fields, it soaks down into the soil and turns into nitrates that feed crops. But when there are too many nitrates, water from rain or irrigation carries those extra nutrients past the point where roots can reach and eventually to the aquifer below.

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

Nestled among acres of wheat fields and rows of corn, the Land Institute of Salina, Kansas, might seem an unlikely Mecca for environmental activists. After decades of leading the charge to develop alternative ways of raising grain, however, the facility still attracts crowds hunting for hunting for sustainable agricultural solutions.

Bryan Thompson for Harvest Public Media

This year was a very good year for growing wheat, but that means it could be a very bad year for wheat farmers.  There's a glut on the global wheat market and prices for winter wheat – which is grown all up and down the Great Plains, from Texas to North Dakota– hit their lowest levels since 2003.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

When shoppers browse meat at the grocery store they are confronted with all kinds of brands and labels, making it hard to tell whether the meat they buy comes from animals that were raised humanely. Organic producers want to answer that question more clearly, but conventional farmers are charging that proposed changes to organic standards would amount to unfair government backing of the organic industry.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Farming in the fertile Midwest is tied to an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists are studying new ways to lessen the Midwest's environmental impact and improve water quality.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Standing on a platform above the eastern bank of the Missouri River at the Kansas City, Missouri, Water Services' intake plant is like being on the deck of a large ship.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a gray day, just as the rain begins to fall, Roger Zylstra stops his red GMC Sierra pick-up truck on the side of the road and hops down into a ditch in Jasper County, Iowa. It takes two such stops before he unearths amid the tall weeds and grasses what he's looking for.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

Living in the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska means understanding that the water in your well may contain high levels of nitrates and may not be safe to drink.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Contaminated drinking water isn't just a problem for Flint, Michigan. Many towns and cities across the Midwest and Great Plains face pollution seeping into their water supplies. A big part of the problem: farming and ranching.

Midwest Farmers Brew Up Hops for Local Craft Beer

Sep 14, 2016
Ariana Brocious for Harvest Public Media

With craft beer booming and local breweries springing up all over the country, Midwest farmers are testing out ways to play a role in the growing market and, in the process, make local beer truly local.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

In an effort to turn away from chemical pesticides, which have the potential to damage the environment, some farmers are looking in a new direction in the age-old, quiet struggle on farm fields of farmers versus pests. They're warding off intruding insects and noxious weeds with bugs and chickens.

Watch: The Insect Factory that Breeds Better Bugs

Aug 31, 2016
Dan Garrison for Harvest Public Media

Halfway down a dead-end road in the small farming town of Palisade, Colorado, is the research facility known as “The Insectary.”  Scientists at the lab develop "biocontrol insects," insects adapted to attacking bugs and plants harmful to agriculture. 

File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to examine proposed mergers among agricultural chemical and seed companies in a September hearing.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The hardest part of starting a new food business should be in perfecting the secret recipe. For many entrepreneurial cooks though, the tough times come when searching for a space to legally make and sell their food.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Few things are more valuable to a farmer in the arid West than irrigation water. Without it, the land turns back into its natural state: dry, dusty plains. If a fast-growing city is your neighbor, then your water holds even more value.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Larry Gerdes is having his barn taken down and disassembled in Malta Bend, Mo. It's about the size of a three-car garage but stands much taller in a clearing surrounded by six-foot stalks of corn.

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