Field Notes

Fridays during All Things Considered; Mondays during Morning Edition

Field Notes is an opportunity for the Harvest Public Media team to dig even deeper into our coverage of food production through additional interviews, on-site reporting and audience feedback.  Each segment is produced and hosted by Abbie Fentress Swanson, at KBIA News in Columbia, MO.

More from Harvest Public Media here

Jeremy Bernfeld/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.

Who knew storing grain could be so dangerous?

Photo courtesy of USFRA

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.

Missouri farmer Chris Chinn is taking on a high-profile role as one of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s “Faces of Farming and Ranching.” 

Courtesy of Trufflepig Films

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.

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.

 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.

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.

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, I spoke with Kevin Good, an analyst for the agriculture research firm CattleFax, about how the ongoing drought will affect the beef industry in 2013 and 2014. Good was one of the speakers at this year's Missouri Cattlemen's Association convention.

Facebook

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.

Courtesy kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society

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 agriculture and food production.

For this edition of Field Notes, Harvest Public Media's Grant Gerlock spoke with Dayton Duncan, who wrote and co-produced the film "The Dust Bowl," which was directed by Ken Burns.

Amy Mayer/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, Harvest Public Media's Amy Mayer spoke with Tom Kaspar, a plant physiologist at the National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment, about the importance of cover crops in how our food is grown.

katieharbath / Flickr

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, Harvest Public Media's Grant Gerlock spoke with Clayton Yeutter, a former agriculture secretary, about the difficulty in getting a farm bill passed.

SerialK/Flickr

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 week’s Field Notes, reporter Justine Greve spoke with Dr. Stephanie Clark, an associate professor of Food Science at Iowa State University about a segment of the dairy industry we’re all familiar with but probably don’t know much about.

You may not know what a “fractionated dairy ingredient” is, but I can almost guarantee you've eaten one.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Field Notes is a regular feature by Harvest Public Media, in which reporters talk to newsmakers and experts about important issues related to food production.

While only 2 or 3 percent of people in the U.S. are vegetarians, more than 40 percent of Americans age 18-29 choose to eat meatless once a week, according to market research firm Innova Insights.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

Scientists researching complex topics often come up empty-handed when it comes time to explain their findings. It’s hard to distill years of intricate, complex research into tiny bytes a layman can understand.

dno1967b / Flickr

Ever looked at the labels on the back of your packaged food?

benketaro / Flickr

Did you know the most common fresh produce in Kansas City and in the Midwest is iceberg lettuce? Yes, the green that is mostly water is apparently the best get in fly-over country. At least, the New York Times thinks so.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

There's more to grocery shopping these days because of nutritional ratings, on-label claims and even in-store dieticians. 

On this episode of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes,  grocery shopping with a guy who doesn’t really think about nutrition, and along the way we dissect the nutritional rating system NuVal

Whether it was thanks to the Farm Bill, MF Global's bankruptcy, vicious flooding or high land prices, farmers were in the headlines throughout the Midwest in 2011.

File Photo / KBIA

River flooding is expected to be a major topic at the upcoming Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture. (AP)

Iowa Public Radio

The Maytags, one of Iowa’s most famous pioneer families, are at it again.

But this time, they’re ignoring modern technology. And the surprising product is … popcorn.

Blue Bunny Ice Cream / Flickr

What does it take for a food product to be labeled "Natural"?

Not much, it seems.

While that big "Natural" label on a package of meat has nothing to do with how an animal was raised, it at least has a definition: "minimally processed with no artificial ingredients.”  When "Natural" shows up on other food products -- everything from granola bars to dressings, and even soda --   the meaning is less certain.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

 

The constant barrage of nutrition messages is so confusing it makes me want to go on a BBQ-potato-chip bender.

So when Harvest reporter Jessica Naudziunas pitched a story on those nutritional scores in grocery stores, I listened.    

Agricultural land value continues to soaring in the Midwest, according to two new surveys released by the Kansas City and Chicago Federal Reserves.

Nebraska has experienced exceptionally strong gains due to bumper crops, with a roughly 40 percent rise in farmland prices from one year ago, CNN Money reported.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report says sales of "local foods," whether sold direct to consumers at farmers markets or through intermediaries such as grocers or restaurants, amounted to $4.8 billion in 2008. That's a number several times greater than earlier estimates, and the department predicts locally grown foods will generate $7 billion in sales this year, The Associated Press reported.

While there's plenty of evidence local food sales have been growing, it has been hard to say by how much because governments, companies, consumers and food markets disagree on what qualifies as local.(Check out Harvest Public Media's reporting on this.)

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

At a grocery store in Ames, Iowa, Lavern Ackerman peered at a package of ground beef.  He was mostly interested in the percent leanness, but he took a stab at deciphering what the big "Natural" sticker on the package meant.

"I thought it was that they just grass-raised them," Ackerman said.

That is, at least, better than their counterparts without an agriculture focus.

The Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis this fall reported that agriculture banks, like Zions Agricultural Finance in Ames, Iowa, have outperformed community banks that depend on clients who are employed outside of the farm sector.  A bank is defined as an agriculture bank if the combined agricultural production and farmland loans account for 25 percent or more of its total loans.

Kansas Department of Agriculture (2009)

 

Most farmers in western Kansas can’t just look to the skies for water to nourish their crops -- they have to dig down to the Ogallala Aquifer to supplement Mother Nature. They use an impressive amount of water, with irrigation often accounting for 85 percent of the water used in the entire state.

 

Phillip Brasher, reporter for the Des Moines Register, reports that the failure of the congressional super committee to come up with a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit throws in doubt the future of federal crop subsidies after next year.

The package of agriculture and food policy that's called the farm bill is reauthorized by Congress every five years. This year, however, things are a bit different for this historically lengthy and debate-rich process. The federal budget deficit that's been hanging around for months has pushed the farm bill into overdrive, and the legislation is now on the fast track straight to the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, otherwise known as the super committee.

Pages