Abbie Fentress Swanson

Reporter

Abbie Fentress Swanson left KBIA at the end of 2013. 

Abbie Fentress Swanson joined Harvest Public Media in 2012 and is based at KBIA Radio in Columbia, Missouri. Before that, she covered arts and culture for WNYC Radio in New York. There she was part of a team that won an Online News Association award in 2012 and an Associated Press award in 2010 for outstanding digital news coverage. In 2011, she won the Garden State Journalists Association "Best Radio Feature" award for "Music Therapy Helps Vets Control Symptoms of PTSD." Reporting fellowships prior to WNYC took her to Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, India, Germany, the Czech Republic and Belgium. Abbie's travels led to multimedia stories on a wide range of subjects -- from the World Cup in South Africa, to the gay rights movement in India, to San Francisco's immigration court. She's filed stories for The New York Times, The Patriot Ledger, KALW Public Radio, The World, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Abbie holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in Italian studies from the College of William & Mary. Check her out on twitter @dearabbie.

Ways to Connect

Milk that Central Dairy delivers is kept behind doors secured with three-inch long padlocks.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

A bioterror attack that introduced a virus like foot-and-mouth disease could devastate the U.S. livestock industry. Regulators are proposing new rules meant to protect the food system from terror attack.
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Food terrorism, part two: New rules would require the nation’s largest food manufacturing plants to tighten up security. How would that impact the dairy industry, which is considered the most vulnerable to attack? Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid. And there’s good reason for that. Liquids like orange juice and milk go through many processing steps -- farm, bottling plant...

Our Abbie Fentress Swanson (second from left) reported stories while hip-deep in water and on the road across the Midwest.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

When I was offered this job nearly two years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to move to Columbia, Mo., from Brooklyn, N.Y., to cover agriculture and food production in the Heartland. I had heard that at Harvest Public Media, reporters were encouraged to seek out significant, underreported stories related to the food system and to interview as many people as needed to get to the heart of the story. With the help of experienced, whip-smart editors, the tape that reporters gathered was crafted...

Farmers received some gloomy news from the US Department of Agriculture earlier this month -- that lower corn prices are here to stay.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Courtesy of Jessica Oreck

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Courtesy of Jessica Oreck

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest. Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes. For more than a decade, fans of documentary film have flocked to Columbia, Mo., for the annual True/False Film Fest . The screenings start on Thursday. Many of this year’s films are set in big cities -- like Cairo, Rome and New York. But several works also focus on rural life. " Rich Hill " follows three teenagers growing up in a small Missouri community south of Kansas City. Jessica Oreck’s " The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga " uses animation and stunning scenes of everyday village life in Eastern Europe to tell the Slavic fairytale of Baba Yaga . The film is shot in Super 16.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Proponents of a new labeling rule that gi­ves consumers more information about where their meat comes from say they are pleased with the new farm bill President Obama signed into law on Friday. That’s because the bill does not include any significant changes to current country-of-origin labeling rules, known as COOL. COOL dates back to the farm bill of 2002, but was first implemented in 2009. The debate heated up last May, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a new rule requiring...

After more than two years of debate on Capitol Hill, a new farm bill is poised to become law after both the U.S. House and Senate approved it.
andrewmalone/Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Donnie Davidson’s family has been producing bottled milk in Holden, Mo., since the 1930s. But the 63-year-old farmer decided to sell his herd of 50 milking cows in November after the roof on one of his barns collapsed from last winter’s snow. Rebuilding the barn would have cost about $20,000. Then there were the costs of renovating a silo and paying for hired help since Davidson’s children won’t be taking over the business. It made financial sense to close the dairy, and grow crops and build...

Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: On Friday, President Obama is scheduled to sign a new farm bill into law. It contains a provision that allows all dairy farms to be part of a safety net. The point is to offset risk when milk prices are too low or feed costs too high. But Abbie Fentress Swanson reports that even in good times, smaller dairy farms in traditional milk producing states are now giving up. (SOUNDBITE OF COWS) ABBIE FENTRESS SWANSON, BYLINE: On a frigid night in Holden, Missouri, 63...

wobble-san/Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

USDA

Fifteen percent of Americans received federal food stamp benefits in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released in early January. In the Harvest Public Media network, that includes about 936,000 people in Missouri; 420,000 in Iowa; 2 million in Illinois; 179,000 in Nebraska, 507,000 in Colorado, 316,000 in Kansas; and 926,000 in Indiana. Both the House and Senate have proposed billions in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),...

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

brdavid / Flickr

Last year, we counted between 20 and 30 state legislatures considering bills that mandate labeling on genetically engineered foods or foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Still a hot-topic, many labeling laws are working their way through statehouses all over the nation – even in farm country. In the past month or so, governors in Connecticut and Maine signed GMO labeling bills into law. Other Northeastern states are required to have similar laws on the books, though, for...

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for foods they believe were sustainably produced, like free-range chicken, fair-trade coffee and pesticide-free wine. But what does “sustainable” actually mean? “There’s not necessarily just one certification that people are going to find stamped on their food that says, ‘This is a sustainable food product,’” said Rob Myers, who is one of the directors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)...

YouTube, "Back to the Start."

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

swanksalot/Flickr

The FDA plans to revise two controversial food safety rules, according to a statement regulators issued Thursday. The rules, originally released in January , are aimed at preventing outbreaks of foodborne illness and at improving food safety in the produce industry. The FDA said it plans to revise the rules and issue another draft of them this summer. “We believe that significant changes will be needed in key provisions of the two proposed rules affecting small and large farmers,” Michael...

andrewmalone/Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Photo courtesy of AquaBounty.

A controversial genetically engineered salmon, known to its detractors as the “Frankenfish,” has moved a step closer to being sold on the U.S. market. That’s because AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., recently got the green light from Canada’s environmental regulatory agency to commercially produce eggs for its genetically engineered salmon at a hatchery on Prince Edward Island. Previously the hatchery, which produces sterile female eggs, had only been allowed to operate as a research facility....

This story comes to us from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting project that focuses on agriculture and food production issues. You can see more photos and hear more audio from the series here . Wednesday, we'll have a story from a meatpacking plant in Garden City, Kan., which takes a proactive stance toward its newest immigrants. For centuries, immigrants in search of a better life have been drawn to America's largest cities. Now, in part because of...

funadium/flickr

According to a recent Food and Drug Administration report , FDA regulators inspected less than two percent of the food shipments that were imported to the U.S. in the 2012 fiscal year. FDA inspectors are responsible for all domestic and imported food except meat, poultry and eggs, which fall under U.S. Department of Agriculture purview. Though the report found 1.9 percent of the imported food products were physically inspected, the percentage of domestic food facilities that were inspected...

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes , in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

A new labeling rule that went into full effect Saturday requires meatpackers and retailers to provide consumers with more information about where their meat comes from. The country-of-origin labeling mandate (COOL) forces retailers and meatpackers to list where the livestock from which that meat came was born, raised and slaughtered. It applies to certain cuts of beef, veal, chicken, pork, lamb and goat sold in the supermarket. Processed, deli and ground meats are exempt from the new rules....

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