Kristofor Husted

Harvest Public Media Reporter

Before joining KBIA in July 2012, Kristofor Husted reported for the science desk at NPR in Washington. There, he covered health, food and environmental issues. His work has appeared on NPR’s health and food blogs, as well as with WNYC, WBEZ and KPCC, among other member stations. As a multimedia journalist, he's covered topics ranging from the King salmon collapse in Northern California to the shutdown of a pollution-spewing coal plant in Virginia. His short documentary, “Angela’s Garden,” was nominated for a NATAS Student Achievement Award by the Television Academy.

Husted was born in Napa, Calif., and received his B.S. in cell biology from UC Davis, where he also played NCAA water polo. He earned an M.S. in journalism from Medill at Northwestern University, where he was honored as a Comer scholar for environmental journalism. 

Ways to Connect

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media and KBIA

The town of Brookfield, Missouri, in the north-central part of the state is a close-knit community. Population: about 4,500. Becky Cleveland, who grew up in town, says the area looks a little different today.

“When I was a kid, like I said, there was four grocery stores,” she says. Today there is just one and a nearby Wal-Mart.

Walking down Main Street past a few vacant storefronts among the businesses, it’s plain to see the town isn’t in its prime any more. Brookfield, though, is more vibrant than many other rural towns, Cleveland says. Rural life used to be centered around the farm, but farms today don’t work like they used to, which has caused a drop in jobs and left some small towns struggling for survival.

E. Coli
brentmarketing / Flickr

Scientists have discovered a third instance of a bacteria resistant to one of the strongest antibiotics available, raising concerns about the spread of so-called “superbugs.”

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

The big flocks of snow geese flying over the Midwest each spring and fall may make for a pretty picture, but the booming population of those fluffy, noisy, white birds is creating an environmental disaster in Canada. And it’s partially thanks to decisions made by Midwest farmers. 

“The birds have grown exponentially, almost now to a concern that they’re causing destruction to their tundra breeding grounds,” said Drew Fowler, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri.

Whenever I'm out reporting in the field, I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle — it seems they can almost understand them. But researchers today are digging deeper to figure out exactly what cows are saying — and how they communicate through their moos.

I drove out to the research farm at the University of Missouri to ask cattle geneticist Jared Decker to share his expert insights.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

We all learned it as kids: Old MacDonald has a farm and on that farm he has a cow that says “moo.” But why? Why do cows moo?

Whenever I’m out reporting in the field I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle – they can almost understand them. But researchers today are trying to figure out exactly what cows are saying.

Turn on the TV and you can barely escape the acronym TPP.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other countries that's currently being negotiated. Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are deriding the TPP, saying it's a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

 

  

Turn on the TV and you can barely escape it: presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle deriding free trade agreements, like the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers, according to pols from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.

But if you venture into the Midwest and ask a farmer about the TPP, you’re likely to get a different answer.

Charles Bassett wants you to buy hamburgers made from his Missouri cows. That’s why the Missouri rancher wants to pay an extra dollar into an industry-created fund every time he sells one of his cattle.

Charles Bassett wants you to buy hamburgers made from his Missouri cows. That’s why the Missouri rancher wants to pay an extra dollar into an industry-created fund every time he sells one of his cattle.

bottlerocketprincess / Flickr

 

Midwest farmers are expected to plant a huge corn crop this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts farmers will plant nearly 94 million acres of corn this season. That’s up 6 percent from last year’s planted acreage and would be the third-highest planted acreage in the U.S. since the 1940s.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

 

Cotton fabric has been a staple in our closets for decades, but times are tough for farmers in the U.S. cotton belt who are caught in the middle of a storm of changing global demand.

Cotton acreage in the U.S. has been declining for years, with 2015 hitting the lowest mark in decades.  It has dropped from nearly 15 million acres to less than 9 million acres in just the past five years.

“One of the main issues facing the world cotton market is just a sluggish demand,” said Jody Campiche, vice president of economics and policy analysis at the National Cotton Council.

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom.

Ryan Famuliner, Nathan Lawrence

Last November MU was rocked by protests led by African American student group Concerned Student 1950. The group of 11 students captured campus attention with its message that university administrators were not doing enough to address racism on campus.

United States Department of Agriculture

If you’re unfamiliar with the show The Walking Dead, zombies (called "walkers" in the show universe) have taken over the landscape. Our cast of gun-toting survivors have been left holed up in a suburban compound surrounded by large walls.

This week, two main characters venture outside the compound on a scavenging mission equipped with a map to nearby agricultural supply stores.  Before they leave, a third character tells them to keep an eye out for sorghum. He says it will likely be untouched and it would make their farming situation “hunky dunky.”

A quick glance at Twitter and a few text messages from friends and family all asked me the same question: What is sorghum and why do our post-apocalyptic heroes -- and sometimes anti-heroes -- need it?

University of Missouri

Dr. Patrice “Patrick” Delafontaine, who stepped down as dean of the MU School of Medicine in Sept. 2015, will step back into the role effective immediately, according to a press release Thursday. 

Most timelines of the events that led to the November 9th resignation of former University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe start when the student protest group Concerned Student 1950 stopped his car at the 2015 homecoming parade. Wolfe was criticized for not speaking with the students, and many believe that perceived slight made him a target. 

Tucked away in a University of Missouri research building, a family of pigs is kept upright and mostly happy by a handful of researchers. Two new litters recently joined the assembly of pudgy, snorting, pink piglets.

While they look like an ordinary collection of pigs one might find in hog barns all over the country, these animals are special. They’re genetically engineered and they are part of a new crop of GE animals with technology that could be coming soon to the food on your dinner plate.

Courtesy Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

 

The U.S. is formally part of the biggest global trade partnership in history after the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership symbolically signed the deal in New Zealand. For President Obama, now comes the hard work.  

Twelve countries bordering the Pacific Ocean negotiated for years to hammer out the TPP. Though the deal is expected to open up new markets for American agricultural exports, especially soybeans and beef, it remains controversial.

Wunderlich Photography / Flickr

The NCAA has slapped the University of Missouri men's basketball team with several penalties for violations going back to 2011.

The NCAA investigation found donors compensated several players and prospects with money, iPads and transportation through a summer internship program, among other infractions. 

    

The massive Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal could require some countries to accept more genetically engineered crops.

The TPP is the largest free trade agreement in history, and while not yet approved by Congress, includes the U.S. and 11 other countries along the Pacific Ocean. 

Here’s how genetically engineered crops figure into the equation:

New federal guidelines for healthy eating announced Thursday do not urge Americans to eat less meat, delivering a big win to Midwest meat farmers and ranchers.  

Initial recommendations by scientific advisors suggested Americans could be more environmentally friendly by cutting back on meat. Although the final version of the dietary guidelines issued every five years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services propose teenage and adult men reduce their intake of protein, there is no specific request to eat less meat.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

 

At the Country Club Plaza shopping center in Kansas City, Missouri, customers bring their purchases to Melissa Anderson. She’s been wrapping gifts here for five years. Today she’s wrapping a box from a clothing store. The off-white paper has ornately interlocking gold lines. She said opening a gift is an experience.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

After the patent on one of the most popular versions of genetically engineered soybeans expired this year, U.S. universities are creating new generic GMO soybean varieties, many of which are designed to guard against specific, local pests.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

 

The amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. fuel supply will go up under new rules issued Monday.

In releasing the details of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the policy that sets the amount of biofuels oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it planned to continue to increase the proportion renewable fuels, most of which is comprised of corn ethanol.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

As the dust settles at the University of Missouri this week, two university administrators’ jobs have been left in the wake. Students have been protesting a lack of action on the university’s part to racist incidents on campus.

The situation made national headlines when the school’s football team got involved to support the cause. Experts say that kind of student-athlete influence is growing and universities have to pay attention to that economic and cultural pull.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

  On the same day the University of Missouri System president resigned, the chancellor of the Columbia campus has also announced he will be stepping down at the end of the year.

Just hours after UM System President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said he will also be stepping down. 

tim wolfe
Janet Saidi / KBIA

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe issued an apology Friday for his behavior with the group Concerned Student 1950.

Members of the group blocked his car during the homecoming parade in protest of how the administration has handled incidents of racism at MU. Wolfe also notes in his apology that he has met with graduate student Jonathan Butler, who has been on a hunger strike calling for Wolfe’s resignation or removal.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

The immigrant workers that pick crops like cotton and melons in the U.S. can have a tough time finding a place to live. The rural areas where they can find work often lack the social services and affordable housing. That means many farm worker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

All week, Harvest Public Media’s series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

While the average American eats hundreds of pounds of meat every year, many U.S. consumers are starting to cut back as health experts learn more about the risk of a diet high in proteins from meat and environmentalists challenge the way most meat is raised.

That leaves farmers and ranchers to raise meat animals with health-conscious meat-eaters in mind.

Flickr / Natalie Maynor

The US Department of Agriculture awarded a grant to help low-income families access affordable, healthful food in Boone County.

About $150,000 dollars was granted to better connect families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to fresh food at the farmers market.

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