Peggy Lowe

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The Chipotle Cultivate Festival had it all: an indie pop band on stage, long lines at the beer booths, folks hanging out on a hot summer day.

Sort of like a Grateful Dead concert, only with free burritos.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

 

Farm dog? Check.

Barn cats? Check.

Muddy work books lined up at the back door? Five checks.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Agriculture officials don’t know just how the massive outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest was spread, but believe the culprits include humans breaking biosecurity measures and the virus going airborne.

Heather Cescent / Flickr

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon allow pasteurized egg imports from the Netherlands because of dwindling supplies and higher prices caused by the huge bird flu outbreak in the Midwest.

The trade decision on Monday reflects the ongoing emergency measures taken in light of the largest-ever outbreak of avian flu in the U.S. So far, the virulent strain of H5N2 has been detected at 201 farms in 15 states, triggering the destruction of 44.7 million chickens and turkeys, according to the USDA.

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Byerly, along with her husband, Jerry, and their two-year-old, Jack, were on vacation with extended family in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While buying supplies at a local grocery store, they decided to swap ground beef for poultry because they were watching their weight.

A grand jury on Friday indicted a Kansas City Police officer on a felony assault charge for the shooting of a 37-year-old man last year.

Ranchers rebel over beef checkoff

Feb 11, 2015
Jill Toyoshiba / The Kansas City Star

From their small farms set in the rolling hills of northeast Kansas, two ranchers are raising a few cattle, and a lot of Cain.

David Pfrang and Jim Dobbins turned themselves into activists, launched a shadow corporation, got hauled into federal court and had to hire a lawyer.

All over $1.

That buck, though, divides the beef industry. And may influence what you decide to have for dinner.


Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This is the third story in a series of stories by Harvest Public Media on food waste called Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.

The long line of semi-trucks waiting to get in the gates of the Farmland Foods plant could simply wait around for a few hours to head back, fresh products on board.

The trucks are loaded with hogs from several confinement operations near this factory in Milan, a small town in northeast Missouri. Within just 19 hours, those pigs will be slaughtered, butchered and boxed into cuts that consumers see in the grocery store and in restaurants.

But that effort will use only about half of the animal.

Nathan Haley / Flickr

President Obama woke up in Kansas City on Wednesday, rallying support for a growing economy, dreaming of equal pay for his daughters and touting what he called “economic patriotism.”

With just four months before the mid-term elections, Obama called out Congress for fighting him on help for the middle class in a rousing appearance at the Uptown Theatre and later, in a walk down Parkville’s Main Street.

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

The Kansas Board of Regents gave final approval Wednesday to a strict new policy on what employees may say on social media. Critics say the policy violates both the First Amendment and academic freedom, but school officials say providing faculty with more specific guidelines will actually bolster academic freedom on campus.

The controversial policy was triggered by an equally controversial tweet posted last September by David Guth, an associate journalism professor. Reacting to a lone gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., he wrote:

  It was a chant from a different era.

“ERA now! ERA now! ERA now!”

As much as it sounded straight out of the past, the rallying cry was used Tuesday as a coalition of women’s groups marched to the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on Equal Pay Day, the day marking how far into a new year it takes a woman to earn what a man took home last year.

GMO protestor
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

State efforts to label genetically-modified food would be outlawed under a bill unveiled by a Kansas congressman Wednesday – a plan immediately criticized as a “legislative Hail Mary” that won’t pass.

On a quiet Sunday morning last fall, Paige Parkhurst remembers being awakened by her mother, who was crying.

A newspaper story about the night two years ago that Paige was assaulted and her friend Daisy Coleman was allegedly raped was going viral. She and her mother, Robin Bourland, talked about how they had already been through so much. The minor boy who admitted to having sex with Parkhurst had been convicted and sentenced through the juvenile justice system.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

 

When the people from the drug company came out to visit Tyler Karney at Ordway Feedyard here on Colorado’s eastern plains, he was a little skeptical.

They said their product, Zilmax, could put another 30 pounds on an animal in the last days before slaughter. Then he started blending it into the feed for the 6,500 head of Holsteins at this huge feedlot.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

In the Shadows of the Slaughterhouse, part 3: Since large meatpacking plants left big cities like Kansas City and Chicago, rural Midwestern towns have been dealing with a huge influx of immigrants and refugees and their children. Many of these kids are hoping to achieve the American Dream by moving out of the shadows and into a bright future.

Not yet 9 a.m. on a warm fall day, freshmen Binh Hua and My Nguyen are in protective goggles, long hair pulled back, ready for their chemistry class in a Garden City Community College lab.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

In the Shadows of the Slaughterhouse, part 2: Immigrant communities have sprung up around the meatpacking plant in Garden City, Kan., and while change hasn't been easy, city leaders have built a strong grassroots network supporting and embracing the town’s cultural evolution and its youngest citizens.

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Sister Janice Thome’s office is a 2003 brown Ford Focus with a backseat piled high with paperwork and a prayer book.

Nearly two years after allegations of a sexual assault rocked a small Missouri town, the case may be reopened.

A county prosecutor in Maryville, Mo., has requested that an independent attorney look at accusations of rape and other charges against two former high school athletes — despite his earlier decision to drop the case.

The Internet activist group Anonymous, which crusaded for another high-profile rape case, is taking credit for this turnaround.

The Events

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

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

A Midwestern farmer with a well-known last name has set out to fight hunger on a global scale. 

Tyson Foods Inc. announced this week that it would soon suspend purchases of cattle that had been treated with a controversial drug, citing animal welfare concerns.

But many in the industry wonder if the real reason is the battle for sales in other countries, where certain drugs that make livestock grow faster are banned.

"I really do think this is more of a marketing ploy from Tyson to raise some awareness so they can garner some export business from our overseas export partners," says Dan Norcini, an independent commodities broker.

Courtesy of wunderground.com

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.

Over the last three years, the Midwest has gone from flooding to drought and back to flooding. This is a case of “weather whiplash,” a term first used in April by Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and co-founder of the online weather forecasting site Weather Underground.

As Chris Webber checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant on a recent morning, he worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

"The drought is over at the moment," he says. "But in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That's how fast it can get back to dry."

There were questions Wednesday about whether U.S. regulators will approve the takeover of Smithfield Foods Inc., the company that sells all-American hams, hot dogs and bacon, by China's Shuanghui International.

The local food movement has a powerful new poster girl.

More glowing than American Gothic, Oprah Winfrey and her pal, Bob Greene, appear on the cover of the June issue of The Oprah Magazine, standing in what looks to be a field of kale.

"Oprah's New Farm!" reads the headline splashed across the pair's checkered shirts. "How She's Growing Healthier — and You Can Too."

The 'Big Tree' beckons

Apr 10, 2013
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The first day of spring doesn’t feel that way as John Sam Williamson and Chris Starbuck meet up on a county road outside Columbia, Mo.

Temperatures are below freezing and a cold wind is whipping along the flat land here on the Missouri River bottoms. Williamson, a farmer whose family has owned this land for six generations, tugs at the bill of his John Deere cap and Starbuck, a retired University of Missouri plant scientist, pulls his Arborist Society stocking cap further down over his ears.

The devastating drought in the Midwest last summer is a story often told by the numbers, with statistics on large crop failures, days without rain and thousands of parched acres.

This story is also about a tree — a bur oak in rural Columbia, Mo., that everyone calls "The Big Tree." Although it's survived all kinds of punishments during its 350 years on the prairie, last year's record drought was especially tough.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

When a group of small farmers in the southeastern U.S. banded together to sue a powerful dairy cooperative a few years ago, many hoped that the case would bring big changes to the milk industry.

But the recent settlement of the case involving Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America Inc., resulted in little long-term reform, even as the farmers received some monetary damages.

Farmers who had hoped to get some answers on why prices for their raw milk went into free fall a decade ago were disappointed Tuesday by the settlement of a case accusing Dairy Farmers of America Inc. of creating a milk monopoly in the Southeast.

Dairy farmers and industry observers had hoped for their day in court after years of delays in the large class-action suit. But the day before the trial was to start in federal court in Tennessee, DFA announced a $158.6 million deal, saying it didn't want to risk going to trial.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

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.

For this edition of Field Notes — our first in 2013 — we decided to take a look back at last year’s biggest stories in agriculture.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This story on the American beef industry is part of a special reporting series from Harvest Public Media. Check out the rest of their stories at harvestpublicmedia.org.

When Allen Berry brought his 11 yearlings to the Green City Livestock Market in central Missouri last month, he paid into a fund that at first blush, seems a bargain.

Pages