Amy Mayer

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also  previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amyââââ

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Agriculture
6:24 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Seed science pushes toward higher yields

Researchers at DuPont Pioneer’s facility near Des Moines, Iowa, test these varieties of corn.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

At an open house at DuPont Pioneer’s Dallas Center Corn Research Center near Des Moines, Iowa, retired corn breeder Bill Ambrose marveled at the tools available today to do the job he did for nearly 40 years.

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Agriculture
4:13 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

The seeds of genetic modification

Researchers at Monsanto chart the progression of a corn plant over 10 weeks: seed, immature plant, callus, early shoot, shoots, early rooting and advanced rooting. Monsanto fills growth chambers reflecting diverse climate conditions with myriad seed samples.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The vast majority of the corn and soybeans in United States grow from seeds that have been genetically modified. The technology is barely 30 years old and the controversy surrounding it somewhat younger. But how did it even become possible?

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Agriculture
12:07 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Modernizing poultry inspection is no easy matter

Retired federal chicken inspector Phyllis McKelvey worked with Change.org and Whistleblower.org to gather signatures on a petition opposing the proposed new poultry slaughter rule. She delivered over 177,000 signatures to the U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Washington, D.C. last fall.
Credit Courtesy of Whistleblower.org

Retired federal inspector Phyllis McKelvey spent 44 years looking for blemishes and other defects on chicken carcasses. She started as an inspector’s helper, worked her way up, and in 1998, became part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture trial.

“I was one of the first group of inspectors ever put on HIMP,” she said in an interview from her home in north Alabama.

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Agriculture
9:38 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Field Notes: How nitrogen fertilizer killed crop rotation

John Pesek spent 42 years with the agronomy department at Iowa State University, retiring in 1992. He said no amount of nitrogen fertilizer allowed for continuous corn production.

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

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Agriculture
5:14 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Women, Hispanics can file claims for USDA discrimination

The USDA (leader Tom Vilsack seen here) is accepting applications from female and Hispanic farmers who believe the agency discriminated against them in farm loan or loan servicing programs.
Credit USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently accepting claims from female and Hispanic farmers who believe the agency discriminated against them in farm loan or loan servicing programs. The claims process is complex—but the payouts could be large.

After the courts rejected a class action lawsuit from the farmers, USDA agreed to a voluntary settlement process with women and Latinos.

Claimants must submit a 16-page claims package plus additional evidence, and then a third-party will review and determine eligibility.

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Agriculture
5:33 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

New food safety rules apply to bulk grains

At DFS Animal Nutrition, Leland McKinney says quality and safety are inextricably linked.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

New food safety regulations are about to be announced by the Food and Drug Administration. These regulations—covering everything from sanitation to record-keeping—are part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which became law two years ago. While the produce and meat industries get the lion’s share of attention, commodity grains now fall under the FDA’s watch.

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Agriculture
5:44 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Cellulosic ethanol is coming, future uncertain

Corn stover, baled in the field after the grain has been harvested, provides feedstock for cellulosic ethanol.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

About a decade ago, concerns about energy independence, greenhouse gas emissions and the need to boost rural economies led Congress to launch policies in support of biofuels  – corn ethanol, most notably. But the idea was that eventually more U.S.-produced fuel would be cellulosic – derived from corn residue, wheat straw or other biomass.

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Harvest Public Media
11:21 am
Thu November 22, 2012

The local-global food connection

“We need to produce as much to feed the world as we can, but also people like to eat locally grown foods, too, so there’s a case for both sides of agriculture,” says Greg Rinehart, a farmer in Boone County, Iowa.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

The United States is the world’s leading producer and exporter of corn, which is used as livestock feed to support the increasing demand for meat in China, India and other countries with growing middle classes.

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Health & Wealth Desk
5:42 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Farm bill is more than subsidies and food stamps

These tomato and salvia plants are growing in bio-renewable pots in a greenhouse at Iowa State University, which received a grant through the Farm Bill to study replacements for petroleum-based plastic pots.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

Beyond subsidies and food stamps, what’s in the farm bill?

With the election over, lawmakers are now returning to Washington for the final weeks of the 112th Congress. Their schedule is packed, but House majority leader Eric Cantorhas said addressing the expired Farm Bill is on the agenda.

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Agriculture
5:12 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Even in farm country, campaigns not focusing on farm policy

Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

When Congress recessed for the election season without passing a new farm bill, many observers thought farmers would demand explanations as campaign trails blazed through small towns. But despite its importance in farm country, the farm bill and farm policy are largely being overshadowed by other campaign issues.

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Business
3:39 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Farmers Cautious Of Drought-Resistant Seeds

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 7:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here in the United States, the corn harvest is nearly complete. It was earlier and much smaller than in recent years, which means stockpiles are lower and prices will likely be higher. Now, while this summer's drought is largely to blame, the dry weather did offer perfect conditions to test drought-resistant corn. As Iowa Public Radio's Amy Mayer reports, seed companies and farmers are now crunching the yield numbers to see what these new varieties could mean in coming years.

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