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/KBIA

 

To the chagrin of some of the nation’s largest farm organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday forged ahead with a plan to oversee more of the nation’s waterways, saying it will enforce new pollution rules in all but 13 states covered by an ongoing court case.

On the day the so-called “Waters of the U.S.” rules, or WOTUS, were set to go into effect, the EPA stuck to the deadline, despite a court order issued late Thursday.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

The end of summer is state fair season across the Midwest. That means lots of fried food, carnival rides and livestock competitions. But at most fairs, there’s also a whole lot more.

If you missed the fair… fear not. Here are some of the sights and sounds of the Missouri State Fair.


Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

 

Kendra Lawson doesn’t have the typical schedule of a nine–year-old.  With just a week of summer left, she spent her days working with her dad and mom on the farm and preparing her pigs to show at the state fair.

Here in central Missouri, the Lawson family raises cattle and pigs with a lot of help from Kendra. I met her at her house near Centralia, Mo., where she had just come back from helping her dad in the hay fields.

Wikimedia commons / Ken Hammond

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing stricter regulations for pesticide applicators.

Under the guidelines, workers who spray some of the most hazardous pesticides would need to be at least 18 years old, renew their certifications every three years and take specialized training for certain chemicals.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don’t plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

 


Missouri Supreme Court
Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state’s so-called Right To Farm amendment remains constitutional.

The Right to Farm amendment is meant to protect Missouri farmers from new laws that would change current farm practices. It was added to the state Constitution in August 2014 by a slim margin of votes.

Critics, including many small farmers and animal rights groups, say the ballot language was misleading to voters and opens the door for foreign corporations to exploit Missouri farmland. 

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

In the U.S., one in six people struggles with hunger. Food pantries across the country pass out food to help these people put meals on the table. But what if they could help teach the pantry visitors how to grow their own food, too?

Grow Well Missouri, a program that travels to food pantries around central Missouri, is trying to do just that, passing out seeds and starter plants to low-income locals.

 

On a recent wet, spring morning, the group was set up in Columbia, Mo. Four volunteers for Grow Well Missouri worked under a blue popup tent outside of Central Pantry, repotting about 50 starter tomato plants into larger containers. They had a steady stream of visitors stopping by, curious about what’s going on.


Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to hazardous work industries, farming is in the top three with transportation and warehousing, and mining. And many times after an accident, farmers end up as amputees. But when farmers and ranchers lose a limb on the job, they have a limited selection of prosthetics to help get them back to the fields.

Farmer Brian Fleischmann lost part of his right arm in 1996. He still farms today just outside Jefferson City, Mo.

“I continue to try to do everything I used to do before the accident,” he said. “I'll be honest with you. It takes me a lot longer and it's a lot harder on me.”


Kristofor Husted/KBIA/Harvest Public Media

On May 20th, KBIA held a community conversation event in Kennett, Mo. The goal was to bring local residents and leaders of rural southeast Missouri to the same table to discuss difficulties in access to health care, the struggling rural economy and how to fix it. It's an event we called Health Barriers: Symptoms of a Rural Economy.

chickens
Grace Hood / 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.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

When President Obama announced late last year 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. Harvest Public Media's Kristofor Husted reports on how agriculture interests are looking to cash in.


Kristofor Husted / KBIA/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.

One of those farmers is Paul Combs, a rice farmer from southeast Missouri. Cuba can be an important market for farmers like Combs, who already depend on exporting their products.

“We’re excited about normalized relations with Cuba,” Combs said. “Until 1963, Cuba was the biggest market for U.S. rice.”


Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of our series "Shortage in Rich Land" on Missouri's Bootheel region. Click here to see all of the stories.

Chuck Earnest drives along a dirt road next to his rice fields near Steele, Mo. It’s not planting season yet, so the fields are flooded. Flocks of ducks and other waterfowl take turns floating on the rippling water and flying above it.

“This has turned out to be the duck hunting center of Middle America – right in this territory,” he says. “There might be 1,000 ducks out there.”

For such a small region, this sprawling landscape of the Bootheel has some of the most productive farmland in the U.S. A solid water supply and nutrient-rich flatland creates a fertile environment to grow some of the most diverse crops not readily found in the rest of the state. You can find watermelons, sweet potatoes, cotton and a small but strong sector in Missouri growing rice.


Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of our series "Shortage in Rich Land" on Missouri's Bootheel region. Click here to see all of the stories.

For years, some small towns and farmers along the Mississippi River have been battling each other over a flood project set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On the western shore, farmers in southeast Missouri need the project to protect their valuable farmland. But small river towns on the eastern side of the river say the project protects those influential farmers at the cost of their small communities. As a last-ditch effort, the opposition to the project is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to kill the project all together.


Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

After years of negotiations, a dozen countries are on the verge of a trade agreement that could be worth billions of dollars to the U.S. agriculture industry. For Missouri soybean producers, that could mean no longer paying tariffs as high as 20 percent in countries like Japan. As Harvest Public Media’s Kristofor Husted reports, many American farmers and ranchers are eager to see the deal inked, but removing tariffs doesn’t come easy.

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.

A free trade agreement across the Pacific Ocean could open up markets and raise prices for him as well as other rice producers, said Chuck Earnest, a rice farmer in southeast Missouri.


Courtesy of Of Men And War/Laurent Becue-Renard

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes. 

“It’s a horrible thing to watch your friend disappear forever within the confines of a body bag.”

That’s what one young man tells a group of other war veterans in a therapy session for vets with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It’s just one scene in the documentary “Of Men And War” that follows the lives of a handful of American soldiers dealing with PTSD at a treatment center in Napa Valley, Calif.

The men recount their stories, often with anger and tears in the eyes, trying to understand why they have returned from war differently and how its affecting them and their families. Director Laurent Becue-Renard talked with me about his film that took a decade to make.

Hila Oz

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

“Life according to Ohad” follows its eponymous character as he tries to re-bond with his family. Ohad is an animal rights activist, who throughout the documentary sneaks into slaughterhouses, chains himself to chicken crates and performs unsettling public demonstrations with his teams of activists.

    

There’s a disconnect between Ohad and his family, though, and while both sides realize the ties of family are deeply important and worth fighting for, so is trying to see life the way others do. I talked with director and vegan activist Eri Daniel Erlich about his choice to make a film about his friend Ohad.

Cade Cleavelin / KBIA

Farmers in the upper Midwest lost about $570 million last winter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture blames most of those losses on transportation.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

Critics of the so-called 'right to farm' amendment to Missouri’s state Constitution brought their case to the state Supreme Court Wednesday. 

The amendment is meant to protect Missouri farmers from new laws that would change current farm practices they currently use.

For years, some small towns and farmers along the Mississippi River have been battling each other over a flood project set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On the western shore, farmers in southeast Missouri need the project to protect their valuable farmland. But small river towns on the eastern side of the river say the project protects those influential farmers at the cost of their small communities. As a last-ditch effort, the opposition to the project is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to kill the project all together.

Kristofor Husted

 

Driving across the middle of the country, you see billboards everywhere, for things like diners, casinos and adult bookstores. The sign advertising industry is actually worth $7 billion dollars nationwide.

Missouri averages three billboards per mile – more than any of its neighboring states. But when you get to Hatton, Missouri, there’s one sign that’s not like the others. It’s sandwiched between an ad for a strip club and an ad for more billboards in the middle of a muddy soybean field.

Missouri School of Journalism

Four finalists were announced today by Provost Garnett Stokes and Deputy Provost Ken Deanon. Each candidate will visit the campus for interviews and participate in an open forum .

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to organic certification, there are strict guidelines for food producers to follow. 

Think about an organic steak. The cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed. The feed mix can’t be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering. 

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. The problem is several consumer groups say the recommended rules don’t go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.


Kristofor Husted / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon appointed two new members to the University of Missouri Board of Curators. Maurice B. Graham and Phillip H. Snowden, both democrats, have been appointed to join the board that oversees the four-campus system.

dok1 / Flickr

To support a growing population, farmers worldwide need to emphasize the sustainable growth of three major foods: corn, wheat and rice, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

linked to the destruction of bee colonies may not be as effective against corn and soybean pests as many once thought, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

 

For the Midwest’s biggest crops, this harvest season was a big one. With winter setting in, the race is on for farmers to ship out their harvest so it’s not left out to spoil. But the giant harvest and a lack of available rail cars have created a traffic jam on the rails and the highways.

Usually, famers store their harvest in silos and grain bins, but this year, farmers brought in so much, there’s just no room.  Farmers in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and South Dakota are all being hit particularly hard by the storage shortage.

wobble-san/Flickr

After jumping up in value over the past few years, farmland in many of the Plains states has slowed down in its appreciation.

A bumper crop, cheap prices for grain, and the lowest predicted farm income in five years have all taken a swipe at the value of farmland. Overall, states in the region, including Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, have farmland value hovering about 1 to 2 percent above its worth this time last year.

Tax Credits / Flickr

 

Americans had to dig deep into their wallets to cover costs associated with foodborne illnesses, according to new estimates from the U.S. Department Agriculture.

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