Agriculture

Missouri's corn and soybean harvests continue to look good, especially corn.

November estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that corn growers are averaging 145 bushels an acre, which so far is the fourth-highest return in state history.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

 

A new trade deal aimed at cutting thousands of taxes and opening markets with 11 Pacific Rim nations has drawn heavy lobbying from some of America’s largest agribusinesses.

The deal – known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership – was reached in early October. It is designed to ease the flow of goods between partner nations by lowering restrictive trade policies and regulations.

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.

courtesy USDA

 

This post was updated with a new statement from USDA.

A senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a whistleblower complaint on Wednesday accusing the federal agency of suppressing research findings that could call into question the use of a popular pesticide class that is a revenue powerhouse for the agrichemical industry.

Jonathan Lundgren, a senior research entomologist with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service who has spent 11 years with the agency based in Brookings, S.D., said that retaliation and harassment from inside USDA started in April 2014, following media interviews he gave in March of that year regarding some of his research conclusions.

Luke Runyon / 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.

Beef, poultry and pork are staples of the American diet, baked into the country’s very culture, and backbones of the agricultural economy. But lately, the meats have been saddled with some baggage.

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.

Amy Mayer / 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.

 

One of the most important tools of modern medicine is in jeopardy. In the 20th century, antibiotics turned once-lethal infections into manageable diseases. They also contributed to the transformation of meat production in America.

Abby Wendle / 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.

Drive down a dirt road, a two-lane country highway, even many Interstates in the Midwest and the view out the window is likely to get monotonous: massive fields filled with acres of corn sprawled in all directions.

File photo / KBIA

Heartland is a small community in northeast Missouri and is home to the state's largest dairy. Heartland Dairy is under investigation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a worker died on the job in September. It's the third death there since 2012. But many of the employees at Heartland aren't the typical dairy workers; they're participants in a rehabilitation program.


Brian Seifferlein / 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.

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it.

The typical American puts away around 200 pounds of beef, pork, and poultry every year . That’s true in many of the wealthiest countries. But developing countries are showing a growing appetitefor meat.

Logan Layden / Harvest Public Media

Generations of tilling and planting on the same land have left the nation’s soil in poor shape. And if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, feeding the future won’t be easy.

As farmer Jordan Shearer from Slapout, Okla., puts it, “we’re creating a desert environment by plowing the damn ground."

 


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.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

 

After years of work, U.S. negotiators on Monday announced agreement on a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations that is expected to expand export opportunities for U.S. farmers.

The 11 countries included in the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, already import some 42 percent of U.S. agricultural exports at a value of $63 billion, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.


Missouri Pumpkin Patches Show Effects of Summer Weather

Oct 2, 2015

High summer rainfall affected many Missouri crops and pumpkins were not spared.

Many pumpkin patches throughout the state are producing fewer pumpkins this season.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Researchers from the University of Missouri are working with the Missouri Department of Conservation on a five-year study of white-tailed deer in the state. The study's goal is to find the survival differences of deer living in north east counties compared to south central counties.

The team of researchers are tracking the movements of deer using GPS collars in Nodaway, Gentry, Andrew, DeKalb, Wright, Texas, Douglas and Howell counties. Once the study is over, the Department of Conservation will use the data to reevaluate deer population management through strategies like hunting.

KBIA's Michaela Tucker spoke with Jon McRoberts, the project coordinator and wildlife researcher at the University of Missouri, about the progress of the study as it approaches the end of its first year.


Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

 

The Obama administration is challenging America to reduce food waste by half in 15 years.

In an announcement Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency said they would team up with food retailers, charity groups and local governments to meet that goal. 

m_schipp22 / Flickr

MU agronomists are concerned the dry August weather may result in a lower than average yield of soybean crops this year.

Flickr

A Missouri judge has ruled that a right-to-farm constitutional amendment doesn't protect a woman who allegedly grew marijuana in her basement.

The Jefferson City News Tribune reports Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled Tuesday that a woman charged with growing pot isn't covered by the amendment.

Jefferson City police arrested Lisa A. Loesch in 2012. Her public defender said the judge should set aside a grand jury indictment of the woman, arguing that growing marijuana is protected by the right to farm. 

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Jeff Siegfried knows just about anything you’d ever want to find out about a 50-acre corn field in northern Colorado.

The 24-year-old easily rattles off the various gadgets he uses to measure soil moisture, plant health, air temperature.

 

 


Sen. Claire McCaskill is embarking this week on an agricultural tour of the state.

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.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

 In the Midwest, agriculture can be such a strong lure that there are some farm kids without farms.

Ally Babcock lives with her family in a modern subdivision in Ames, Iowa. Tucked under the home’s back deck is a tiny barn space, enough room for her sheep and rabbits.

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.

 


Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

 

Farm dog? Check.

Barn cats? Check.

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

Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Driving down a two-lane highway in rural Missouri, Matt Plenge squinted at a patch of gray clouds hanging low over his farm fields in the distance.

“Does it look hazy up there?” he asked. “We only had a 20 percent chance today. We shouldn't get any rain.”


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 / 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.”


Why do Farmers Burn Their Fields?

Apr 30, 2015
Jacob Grace / Harvest Public Media

Farmers burn their fields to remove plants that are already growing and to help the plants that are about to come up. These burns are often called “prescribed burns” because they are used to improve the health of the field.

To keep the fire contained, farmers need to clear away burnable matter around the edges of the field, which usually requires a lawn mower or larger machinery. The burn itself can be managed with some simple, specific tools.


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