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.

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. It's being called the biggest such takeover of an American company by a Chinese firm. Already, Wall Street traders were bullish on the plan, sending the company's stock price up . Industry experts said it will increase exports to the burgeoning Chinese market. "This does have the...

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." Naturally, we were curious about Winfrey's new farm, which isn't her first — the media mogul grew up on a 1-acre plot in...

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. It doesn't feel like spring as John Sam Williamson meets up with Chris Starbuck,...

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...

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. To find out which ag and food stories resonated most with our audience, I called up Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe at KCUR in Kansas City, Mo. Lowe reached out to the 1,800 members in our...

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. Berry paid $11 into the Beef Checkoff, a mandatory government program that gets $1 each time an animal is sold on its way to the slaughter house. Berry...

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 . Agricultural colleges in the top five beef-producing states have become quasi-arms of the cattle industry, selling science to corporate bidders who set the research agenda with their dollars. In the 150 years since they were created by President Abraham Lincoln as the “peoples’ universities,” public colleges in Texas, Kansas,...

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Farmers growing crops have insurance to ward off the financial failure of their season during this terrible drought. But theres no safety net like that in place for livestock producers. And any emergency aid is tied up in Washington politics. The rock and the hard place where Stacey McCallister now sits looks like this: Rock: McCallisters herd of 200 dairy cattle in south central Missouri have feed for about the next 60 days. Hard place: He was turned down for a low-interest loan at a USDA...

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Its not every day that a trip to the drug store can change your destiny. For 20-year-old Nan Arnold, it was a day in 1956 in Ashland, a small, dusty dot on the open range of western Kansas near the Oklahoma border. Nan had landed her first job as a music teacher at the Ashland school just a year before. She lived with the stores owner because her parents thought she was too young to live alone. Henry Gardiner, just back from the service, was in the drug store that day to buy film for his...

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

LITTLE RIVER, Kan. Before this town was here, before the railroads were here, before a post office was here, the Hodgsons were here. In 1871, Hannah and Henry Clay Hodgson moved into a one-room dugout on the banks of the Little Arkansas, their view an Indian camp on the other side of the river. They arrived in central Kansas in November, in the midst of a blizzard, and it took them three days from the train stop in Salina to get the 60 miles south to this outpost. The Hodgsons had nine...

In the chicken and pork industries, nearly every aspect of the animals' raising has long been controlled by just a handful of agriculture conglomerates. But the cattle industry is still populated by mom-and-pop operations, at least at the calf-raising level. Barbara McIntire Roux likes to say that she was born into the cattle business. Roux, 70, is a third-generation Shorthorn rancher in central Kansas, where the prairie pastures are thick with brome and bluestem grasses. "We have to record...

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

A surprising thing happens while touring Chris Boeckmanns turkey farm, where 50,000 birds are grown each year for Cargill Inc.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Its a long way from Forget-Me-Not Farms to the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka.

Recruiting doctors to live and work in rural America is a chronic problem. Most health centers try to attract workers with big salaries and expensive homes. Shots previously reported that one center in Maine was trying to lure medical students to the countryside for their final two years with the hope that they stick around. The Ashland Health Clinic, a tiny hospital in southwest Kansas, is trying a different tack — a reverse-recruitment model. It's called mission-focused medicine, and it's...

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