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Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

In the coming months, Congress will map out how it will spend upwards of $500 billion on food and farm programs over the next five years.  The massive piece of legislation known as the farm bill affects all taxpayers -- whether they know it or not.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The federal government wants to revamp hog slaughter inspections, proposing changes that were more than 15 years in the works and are being touted as ways to improve food safety. Critics argue they hand too much responsibility to meatpackers and might put workers' safety at risk.

File/Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

The recent frigid weather across the Midwest has slowed river barges carrying grain to shipment ports, especially those destined for the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois rivers.

File photo/Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As President Donald Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made the rounds this week to reiterate their commitment to rural communities and farmers and ranchers, the federal agency that President Abraham Lincoln established still lacks top appointments.

FILE/GRANT GERLOCK / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Shoring up rural America's economy must start with broadband access and technology, a federal task force said in a report released Monday.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Peyton Manning, the NFL quarterback-turned-pitchman, apparently has another side hustle: Certifying shipments of grain as organic for a Nebraska-based agency called OneCert.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts consumers will be paying less for beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey in early 2018 than at the start of 2017. Not so for eggs.

Shoppers, check your receipts when you buy Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. It’s likely the total cost will be the lower that what you paid in 2013.

The World Health Organization released recommendations this week to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock, saying it could help reduce the risk of drug-resistant infections in humans.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says some of the guidelines from the United Nations’ public health agency would place “unnecessary and unrealistic constraints” on farmers and veterinarians. It's a disagreement that could have an impact on farm exports.

Updated 12:30 p.m. Nov. 2 — Sam Clovis, who ran President Donald Trump's campaign in Iowa, has withdrawn his nomination to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientist position. Clovis was linked this week to the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Clovis sent Trump a letter, dated Nov. 1, that says the political climate "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position" during his Nov. 9 Senate confirmation hearing.

Plant breeder Jessica Barb is on a mission to improve how sunflowers self-pollinate, a trait that'll be increasingly important to farmers are wild bee populations diminish. Her research tool of choice: a paper towel. 

Galen Fick milks 50 Brown Swiss cows every day on his farm in Boyden, Iowa, where his family has been in the dairy business for generations. Life as a dairy farmer has gotten harder and harder, he says, especially in the past two years.

 

“Our inputs have gone up so much, not the feed part of it but everything else,” he says, pointing to veterinary care and, especially, labor. “For us to make that profit, [it] makes it very tough.”

As President Donald Trump continues to fill political appointments, his nomination for the top science job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising unique concerns.

Trump has chosen Iowan Sam Clovis to be undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. Clovis served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, has a doctorate in public administration, and taught economics at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Sioux City is also where he gained a following as a conservative talk show host.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

In a brightly-lit lab at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, workers with tweezers hunch over petri dishes scattered with sprouted sorghum seeds. Sorghum produces grain and also a sugary stalk.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska. He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call "the chain" – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The country's top agriculture official, Tom Vilsack, is declining to comment on some of the largest  mergers the farm economy has ever seen.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Newly published research shows the pig virus that swept through the United States beginning in 2013 and killed more than six million piglets could survive a trip around the world if it catches the right ride.

USDA/Flickr

Food safety regulators are hoping new rules will reduce the number of Americans sickened by salmonella bacteria found on the chicken they eat. Currently, salmonella is estimated to cause about 1 million illnesses a year.

Greg Stevenson, ISU

A fast-spreading virus never before seen in the United States hit the pork industry more than two years ago, racking up roughly $1 billion in losses and spiking prices for consumers.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Blake Hurst rides ten feet above his soybean field in northern Missouri, looking more like he's playing a video game than driving a $350,000 high-tech piece of machinery.

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.

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