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Courtesy Caroline Abels

As animal welfare expert Temple Grandin has described it, pregnant pigs housed in gestation crates spend their days living in the equivalent of an airline seat for humans.

Bee Hotels Give Native Species a Place to Call Home

Jul 9, 2015
Abigail Wilson for Harvest Public Media

Bamboo and paper tubes, with diameters no bigger than a nickel, are stacked artfully inside a 4-by-4 wooden frame near the edge of a public hiking trail in Lawrence, Kansas.  Organized by size, each hollow tube is about 8 inches long, designed as nests for Kansas' wild bees. This structure is called a bee hotel.

Abby Wendle

Driving down a two-lane highway in rural Missouri, Matt Plenge squinted at a patch of gray clouds hanging low over his farm fields in the distance.  "Does it look hazy up there?" he asked. "We only had a 20% chance today. We shouldn't get any rain."

Stephanie Paige Ogburn/KUNC

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the "know where your food comes from" movement.  JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

In the U.S., one in six people struggles with hunger. Food pantries across the country pass out food to help these people put meals on the table. But what if they could help teach the pantry visitors how to grow their own food, too?

Rodeo season is getting into full swing and at most rodeos, bull riding is the main event. But when the bull ride ends, the work begins for rodeo bullfighters, and a young bullfighter is making a name in the business by putting himself in the middle of the action.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Walk down a grocery store aisle today and you're likely to find lots of food -- and lots of marketing claims. Whether a product's label says it's low in fat, produced without hormones, or a good source of protein is largely governed by consumer demand and corporate profit.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The packaged foods found in supermarkets, convenience stores and vending machines are full of ingredients you often cannot pronounce.  They've been carefully developed and tested in a lab and likely have been shipped long distances. They can hold up to weeks or even months on the shelf.

Abby Wendle

At around 9:00 on a late spring evening, the library was locked for the night.  Silently, Linda Zellmer appeared on the other side of the glass door. She opened it and guided us up four dark floors towards a puddle of light.

Farmers with Prosthetics Face Durability Challenges

Jun 10, 2015
Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to hazardous work industries, farming is in the top three with transportation and warehousing, and mining. And many times after an accident, farmers end up as amputees. But when farmers and ranchers lose a limb on the job, they have a limited selection of prosthetics to help get them back to the fields.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

National public health officials are urging their state counterparts to be alert for avian flu infections in humans.

Will Curran/Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon allow pasteurized egg imports from the Netherlands because of dwindling supplies and higher prices caused by the huge bird flu outbreak in the Midwest.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The federal government's complex set of rules meant to spur a renewable fuels industry has fallen behind one of its main goals: cut greenhouse emissions from gasoline.

More Money, Fewer Grasslands: Corn Ethanol's Impact on Rural America

Jun 2, 2015
Emily Guerin/Inside Energy

Ethanol is one of the most important industries in the Midwest, and it's an industry about to change. The U.S. EPA proposed new targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, which dictates the amount of ethanol the oil industry has to blend into our gasoline.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. EPA is proposing tweaks to ethanol policy. The agency proposed a cut to the amount of corn ethanol oil companies are required to blend in to our gasoline, as well as ambitious targets for low-carbon cellulosic ethanol, which is produced from grasses and other inedible parts of plants.

Eleanor Klibanoff for Harvest Public Media

It's no longer enough for restaurants to offer roasted chicken or braised beef shank on their menus. They need to be able to tell customers exactly where that chicken came from and how the cow was raised. If they can remember the pedigree of the produce? All the better.

brian.ch/Flickr

After years of bureaucratic delays and opposition from the meat industry, the federal government finally moved to require consumer safety labels on mechanically tenderized beef products.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Meat sold in the U.S. has to have a label telling in which country the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization confirmed Monday that those country of origin labels (COOL) on meat sold in the U.S. violate international law.

"Stud Dames" Spread U.S. Cow Genetics Far and Wide

May 18, 2015
Abby Wendle

Panda, standing six feet tall and weighing almost a ton, is everything a show cow should be: broad-backed and round-rumped, with sturdy legs holding up her heft. Her hide -- thick and black, with splotches of creamy white -- fits her name.  "She's a big time cow," said Dan Byers, owner of Byers Premium Cattle, Inc. "She's a freak of nature is what she is."

USDA/Flickr

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The local food scene has exploded in recent years, which means there's a lot more local produce on dinner tables. It also means that during the spring season as small farms start ramping back up, they have to work a bit harder to attract new customers.

Abby Wendle

America's biggest food production companies face a growing threat of water scarcity, according to a new report from Ceres, an environmental sustainability group. The report cites pollution as one of the primary culprits.

File: Kathleen Masterson/Harvest Public Media

As the number of farms hit with avian flu grows to more than 100 nationwide, regulators are implementing containment plans meant to stop the virus' spread, spare millions of at-risk birds, and thousands of poultry farms.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Thousands of people get sick every year from E. coli bacteria in their food. While the beef industry has gone to great lengths to limit illnesses in meat, the industry has been slow to adopt an E. coli vaccine that could keep people from getting sick.

File: Kathleen Masterson/Harvest Public Media

Tyson Foods, the country's largest poultry producer, says it will stop feeding its chickens antibiotics that are used to treat humans.  The company says it plans to eliminate the drugs in its broiler chicken flocks-- chickens grown for meat -- by September 2017.

USDA Aims to Combat Climate Change

Apr 26, 2015
Abby Wendle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new plan offers incentives to farmers who volunteer to take steps that would help cut agriculture's contribution to climate change.

Speaking to an audience at Michigan State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new plan will give farmers, ranchers, and foresters the technical support and financial incentive to implement more conservation measures on their land and in their operations.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

It’s planting time for Midwest farmers and much of the corn they grow will end up feeding livestock in China, which has become a huge importer of grain from the Corn Belt. That means the farmers can’t just select seeds based on which ones will get the best yield. They have to think about where their grain will be sold.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

When President Obama announced in late 2014 that he would work toward ending the embargo on trade with Cuba, it wasn’t just tourists perking up their ears. Midwest farmers and ranchers see communist Cuba as an untapped market for goods from the American Heartland.

Abby Wendle

Big farms are collecting taxpayer dollars that they haven’t necessarily earned by taking advantage of a loophole in government subsidy rules, according to regulators, members of Congress and the U.S. Government Accountability Office. 

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Just over a year ago, Tracy Dethlefs learned she has stage 1 breast cancer. Since then, she estimates she has charted some 10,000 miles traveling from her farm near Loup City in central Nebraska to area hospitals for treatment. Every surgery, round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment was a road trip.

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