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Harvest Public Media

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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.

Some Farmers Warming Up to the Affordable Care Act

Apr 1, 2015
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Until the federal health insurance marketplace opened in late 2013, farmers and ranchers were more likely to be uninsured than many other occupational groups. The Affordable Care Act changed that by requiring them to buy insurance. But it also gave them coverage options they didn't have before. 

Chafer Machinery/Flickr

As you've probably heard, a well-respected group of World Health Organization scientists said glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's wildly popular Roundup herbicide and its generic cousins, is probably capable of causing cancer in humans.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon muffins is in the air.

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed changes on Tuesday to the rules that govern which farmers can receive government subsidies.

The goal is to cut off payments to people who claim they’re involved in the management of a farm, but aren’t doing much managing.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A battle is brewing in the organic food industry.  The largest trade association for organic farmers, marketers, and processors wants growers to help pay for promotional campaigns.

How Do You Define What It Means to be a Farmer?

Mar 19, 2015
Grant Wood

How do you define a farmer?

A. A person who does the physical labor to plant a crop.

B. A person who pays for everything it takes to run a farm.

C. A person who owns farmland.

D. All of the above.

It’s a tricky question. For over two decades, the government’s definition of who is an “actively engaged farmer” has been criticized for being too loose and subjective - a loophole allowing farm operations to add investors to their business so they can rake in extra money in farm program payments.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

A highly contagious strain of bird flu has officially made its way to the Midwest.  The disease was confirmed Tuesday in two separate commercial turkey flocks in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

After years of negotiations, a dozen countries – from New Zealand up to Canada –are on the verge of a trade agreement that could be worth billions of dollars to the U.S. agriculture industry. Many American farmers and ranchers are eager to see the expected benefits of the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

Low Grain Prices Hurt More Than Farmers

Mar 5, 2015
Abby Wendle

Todd Mendenhall slouches in his barber's chair, his gaze fixed on the door of his shop, waiting for a customer to open it. The clock ticks to one o'clock on a gray Wednesday afternoon.  "I should be cutting hair instead of just sitting here," Mendenhall said. "That tells you something about our economy."

There’s a new stop on the Iowa campaign trail. This weekend, many presidential hopefuls will be in Des Moines for the first Iowa Ag Summit. Republican donor Bruce Rastetter, who is the CEO of Summit Farms and president of the Iowa Board of Regents, is hosting the event.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

You’ve probably seen, but may not have noticed, labels on the meat at your grocery store that say something like “Born, Raised, & Harvest in the U.S.A.” or “Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the U.S.”

These country of origin labels, as they are known, are part of an ongoing international trade dispute that has swept up Midwest ranchers. And they may not be long for store shelves.

Back from War, On to the Farm

Feb 23, 2015
John Wendle for Harvest Public Media

Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees - apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.

And then she bought her first chickens.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Call it “peak farmers market.” Or maybe the plateau of “know your farmer.”

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A highly anticipated batch of federal laws governing the use of drones could change the regulatory landscape and lead to an explosion in drone use by farmers.

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