Agriculture

Agriculture
5:13 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

The end of Missouri’s dry season looks positive, especially for farmers

Credit USDA

Deadly arctic storms, freezing rains and thunderstorms, Missouri has seen it all so far this past spring. As we enter into warmer months, local farmers are hopeful for a good planting season.

Crops like wheat are planted a week before or after the first frost. Come late-March, early-May, rain is needed for moisture as the crops come out of dormancy.

“Moist soil helps to activate herbicides, if they’re being used, and that way they will better control the weeds that they’re trying to target,” said Kelly Smith, director of marketing commodities for the Missouri Farm Bureau.

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Agriculture
2:34 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Fire-Setting Ranchers Have Burning Desire To Save Tallgrass Prairie

A line of fire turns brown grass into black earth.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 11:02 am

For the past month, in part of eastern Kansas, the prairie has been burning, as it does almost every spring. On some days, you could look toward the horizon in any direction and see pillars of smoke. The plumes of pollution have traveled so far that they've violated limits for particulates or ozone in cities as far away as Lincoln, Neb.

But here's the twist: Environmentalists have come to celebrate those fires.

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Agriculture
12:36 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill

A customer shops for produce at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in April 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. More than a dozen food cooperatives supported the bill that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 12:46 pm

The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted he will sign a bill state lawmakers passed Wednesday mandating that foods with GMOs be labeled as having been produced with "genetic engineering." The bill would also make it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled "all natural" or "natural."

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Agriculture
4:24 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Moberly to add a fresh food farmers market

Credit Natalie Maynor

A new community farmer’s market is opening in Moberly. 

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Agriculture
9:11 am
Mon April 21, 2014

USDA makes PED reportable disease

The PED virus has hit hog farms all over the country and cut pork supplies.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Hog farmers are now required to report outbreaks of certain viral diseases that have spread across the country during the past year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Agriculture
8:17 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Missouri farmers oppose power line construction

Credit File / KBIA

A group of Missouri farmers says they will oppose construction of a power line cutting through the state. The Missouri Farm Bureau says they don’t want the company Grain Belt Express using their land for electrical lines. 

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Agriculture
2:30 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

Backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including broccoli, carrots and kale, on Thursday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 1:49 pm

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It's inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone's proprietary product.

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Education
4:24 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Gardening connoisseur leads food panel at MU expo

Credit Natalie Maynor

Experts from all over the state came together to challenge major issues in the food industry during the MU botanical garden expo today.

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Agriculture
5:30 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Vertical farming: towering vision, uncertain future

Large banks of fluorescent lamps provide the spectrum of light that keeps the floating beds of plants alive year-round in The Plant Chicago, a vertical farming facility.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Farmers are making inroads supplying local food to hungry city foodies, but many producers are trying to grow more food inurban centers. City real estate is at a premium, so some producers are finding more space by using what’s called “vertical farming,” and going up rather than spreading out.

Growers across the country are heading indoors, using greenhouses and hydroponics – growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of soil and using lamps to replace sunlight. Vertical farming takes that to a new level.

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Agriculture
5:29 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Corn farmers fight rootworm resistance

New research confirms what many Midwest farmers have already suspected: The corn rootworm can develop resistance to varieties genetically modified to thwart the pest. Here, rootworm damage in an Iowa field ruined a corn crop.
Credit Courtesy Aaron Gassmann

After a long battle with corn rootworm, Midwest farmers thought they’d found relief in genetically modified seeds engineered to produce toxins deadly to the pest. But recent research confirms what farmers have been noticing for several years: the western corn rootworm has been evolving to outwit the technology.

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Agriculture
8:53 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Bill to bar GMO labeling unveiled

Anti-GMO protestors at a 2013 Denver, Colo., rally.
Credit 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.

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Agriculture
8:56 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Federal rule could dry up brewer-rancher relationship

Credit Ben Harris-Roxas / flickr

Few people connect craft breweries with cattle feed. But passing along the spent grains from the brewing process, like barley and wheat, to livestock ranchers is a common practice. Although now, that relationship could be in jeopardy.

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Agriculture
5:25 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Can Fish Farms Thrive In The USA?

Live tilapia are loaded into a truck bound for New York.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on

Why hasn't fish farming taken off in the United States?

It's certainly not for lack of demand for the fish. Slowly but surely, seafood that's grown in aquaculture is taking over the seafood section at your supermarket, and the vast majority is imported. The shrimp and tilapia typically come from warm-water ponds in southeast Asia and Latin America. Farmed salmon come from big net pens in the coastal waters of Norway or Chile.

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Agriculture
7:18 am
Sat April 5, 2014

Newbie Urban Gardeners Don't Realize How Much Soil Is Contaminated

Graze the Roof is a community-produced garden that grows vegetables on the rooftop of a church in San Francisco.
Sergio Ruiz/Flickr

Originally published on

The majority of Americans now live in cities, which means we have very little to do anymore with the production of our food.

But there's a reversal of that trend afoot, as more city people decide that they want to cultivate crops and raise some livestock. After all, there are few things more satisfying that biting than a bunch of tender, red radishes you grew yourself, or a fresh egg from the backyard.

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Agriculture
2:28 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Should We Close Part Of The Ocean To Keep Fish On The Plate?

A tuna fishing boat drags a cage of nets on the Mediterranean sea in 2010. (The Mediterranean is not considered to be part of the "high seas.")
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 4:55 pm

For lovers of fatty tuna belly, canned albacore and swordfish kebabs, here's a question: Would you be willing to give them up for several years so that you could eat them perhaps for the rest of your life?

If a new proposal to ban fishing on the open ocean were to fly, that's essentially what we might be faced with. It's an idea that might help restore the populations of several rapidly disappearing fish – like tuna, swordfish and marlin — that we, and future generations, might like to continue to have as a food source.

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Agriculture
11:35 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Carp(e) Diem: Kentucky Sends Invasive Fish To China

Commercial fisherman Ronnie Hopkins (left) and his assistant, Armondo, catch Asian carp on Lake Barkley, Ky.
Paul Rister AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 8:47 pm

The invasive Asian carp has now been found in 12 states and in the Great Lakes watershed, gobbling up native fish, jumping aggressively into boats and reproducing like crazy. Researchers have tried various ways to slow the spread of the fish as it prowls other waterways.

And, so far, efforts to introduce the big, bony fish to American diners haven't caught on. So now a processing plant in Kentucky is trying the latest method of Asian carp disposal: sending them to China.

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Agriculture
2:21 am
Wed March 26, 2014

What A Long, Strange Trip: Salmon Are Trucking To The Pacific Ocean

Pacific Or Bust: Fingerling Chinook salmon are dumped into a holding pen as they are transferred from a truck into the Sacramento River Tuesday in Rio Vista, Calif. From here, they'll be towed downstream for a bit, then make their own way out to the Pacific Ocean.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

In California, severe drought has imperiled millions of juvenile salmon who now face waters too dry to let them make their usual spawning trip to the ocean. So state and federal officials have embarked on a drastic plan to save them – by letting them hitch a ride on tanker trucks.

Over the next two and a half months, some 30 million Chinook salmon will be trucked from five hatcheries in the state's Central Valley to waters where they can make their way to the ocean.

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Agriculture
7:50 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Mo. government agencies encourage statewide clean-up

Credit Andres Rueda / Flickr

Two Missouri agencies are encouraging residents to spend April cleaning up the state's roadsides, parks, rivers and trails as part of the sixth annual "trash bash."

Missouri's Conservation and Transportation departments are sponsoring the event, which also includes educational efforts in schools, community events, and Earth Day celebrations.

Organizers say programs like the trash bash help offset the cost of cleaning up litter and let the two agencies devote resources to other priorities.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Field Notes: A plan to prevent acts of food terrorism

Milk that Central Dairy delivers is kept behind doors secured with three-inch long padlocks.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production. 

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Agriculture
5:53 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Smoke from private controlled burning blown into downtown Columbia

A controlled burn of Tucker Prairie.
Credit Brendan Gibbons / KBIA

  The smoke that was blown into downtown Columbia on Monday originated mostly from controlled burning on private land in different locations all across the county, officials said.

Gale Blomenkamp, battalion chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District, said private burning is normal at this time of the year, as farmers are freeing up land.

“There’s nothing abnormal about this going on right now. This is our natural cover fire season, and this is also the time that people do open burning to burn off their fields etcetera,” Blomenkamp said.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Field Notes: Putting a scare into the food system

A bioterror attack that introduced a virus like foot-and-mouth disease could devastate the U.S. livestock industry. Regulators are proposing new rules meant to protect the food system from terror attack.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production. 

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Agriculture
4:16 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Virus cutting pork supplies

Illinois hog farmer Phil Borgic says the PED virus killed many of his piglets. The virus is expected to cut pork supplies this year.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

 

virus that has devastated piglets for nearly a year is causing lower pork supplies.

Farmer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., knows firsthand what happens when porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED), virus infects a hog barn. He walked through one in late January, pointing out the differences among litters.

“This is a PED litter. See how dirty they are?” he said, pointing to a sow whose little piglets had dirty hooves.

A couple of dead piglets, PED victims, waited to be removed from the pen. When suckling piglets contract the disease, they die from dehydration because their bodies can’t recover from the vomiting and diarrhea it causes. Borgic estimates the outbreak in his barns killed about eight percent of his expected annual total. 

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Agriculture
4:38 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Could our food supply be a target for terrorists?

A bioterror attack that introduced a virus like foot-and-mouth disease could devastate the U.S. livestock industry. Regulators are proposing new rules meant to protect the food system from terror attack.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Food terrorism, part 1: A terror attack on the U.S. food supply could be a disaster for the country and its economy. Regulators are proposing new rules designed to mitigate the chance of an attack, but with few documented incidents of malicious food contamination, is food terrorism fact or fiction?

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Agriculture
4:32 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Padlock the milk! FDA’s push to safeguard the food supply

Milk is an extremely popular item on the University of Missouri campus, says purchasing coordinator Sandy Perley. "Our entire campus in a year drinks about 96,000 gallons of milk. And by our best calculation, that’s about 326 gallons a day."
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Food terrorism, part two: New rules would require the nation’s largest food manufacturing plants to tighten up security. How would that impact the dairy industry, which is considered the most vulnerable to attack?

Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid.

And there’s good reason for that.

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Agriculture
5:30 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

How climate change could benefit some invasive plants

Ellen Nelson has battled invasive plants that out-compete native grasses on her grass-fed beef ranch near Bellvue, Colo. Some climate studies suggest that fight will worsen in the coming decades.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now: It will likely be warmer and the air will be more rich with carbon dioxide. Though scientists don’t yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species.  

A growing problem

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Agriculture
3:52 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Five more states join in fight against California egg law

Credit heathervescent / Flickr

  Five other states are joining Missouri's fight against a California egg law that would prohibit the sale of eggs produced by hens kept in cages that don't meet California's size and space requirements.

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Agriculture
3:30 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

MU agroforestry prof named to USDA council

Shibu Jose, University of Missouri's director for the Center of Agroforestry, was recently appointed to the Forestry Research Advisory Council.
Credit Margaux Henquinet / KBIA

Shibu Jose is the H.E. Garrett Endowed Chair Professor in agroforestry at MU’s School of Natural Resources. He is also director of the Center for Agroforestry at MU.

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Agriculture
2:02 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

From Brooklyn to Boone County, and back again

Our Abbie Fentress Swanson (second from left) reported stories while hip-deep in water and on the road across the Midwest.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

When I was offered this job nearly two years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to move to Columbia, Mo., from Brooklyn, N.Y., to cover agriculture and food production in the Heartland.

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Agriculture
9:07 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Cold winter killing fish in Missouri lakes

Credit File Photo / KBIA

Missouri's cold winter is killing off more fish than usual in ponds and lakes.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Young farmers wait for their opportunity

Eric Brockmann and his family moved back to his hometown of West Point, Neb. to pursue his passion for farming.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The average age of American farmers has been climbing for decades, and many say rural towns are at-risk without new blood. There are enough people who want to farm, but there’s trouble connecting beginning farmers and the communities that need them.

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