Agriculture

Agriculture
4:19 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

What does Europe’s horsemeat scandal mean for the US?

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service tests the meat that ends up on dinner tables all over the country.
artizone/Flickr

Consumers in Europe are still shocked and paralyzed after learning that ready-made meals advertised as beef products – lasagna, hamburger, salami – actually contained horsemeat. Authorities are still unpacking the extent of the deception, but the case has already touched at least a dozen countries.

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Agriculture
4:26 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Safety concerns threaten growing market for raw milk cheese

Some consumers consider raw milk cheese more nutritious because pasteurization hasn’t killed living beneficial organisms in the milk. But not pasteurizing milk can also allow harmful bacteria to live. Raw milk cheese has sickened more than 500 people in t
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Raw milk cheese — which is made from unpasteurized milk — has gathered a small but fervent following for its taste, nutritional benefits and freshness.

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Agriculture
5:56 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

What the temporary POET plant closure means for Macon

President Barack Obama visited the POET plant in Macon in April 2010.
Credit File photo / KBIA

One of the largest economic engines in Macon, Mo. has temporarily halted production. High corn prices forced the Macon POET Biorefining’s ethanol plant to temporarily close.

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Agriculture
10:36 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Small Farmers Aren't Cashing In With Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart claims that 11 percent of the produce in its stores now comes from local farms.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 7:21 am

When Wal-Mart calls, Herman Farris always finds whatever the retailer wants, even if it's yucca root in the dead of winter. Farris is a produce broker in Columbia, Mo., who has been buying for Wal-Mart from auctions and farms since the company began carrying fruits and vegetables in the early 1990s.

During the summer and fall, nearly everything Farris delivers is grown in Missouri. That's Wal-Mart's definition of "local" — produce grown and sold in the same state. In winter, it's a bit tougher to source locally.

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Agriculture
1:05 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Field Notes: How Wal-Mart's local foods push is playing out in the Midwest

A customer shops for produce at a Wal-Mart in Columbia, Mo. The retailer claims 11 percent of its produce sold in its stores nationally comes from local farms.
Credit 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.

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Agriculture
7:56 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Missouri ethanol plant to be idled due to high corn prices

Poet Biorefining's ethanol plant in Macon, Mo., looked greener back in April 2010. This file photo was taken the day President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the plant.
Credit Photo courtesy of Poet Biorefining / KBIA

Seventeen ethanol plants nationwide have been idled since last June because of a scarcity of affordable corn due to the drought and a weak market for the corn-based fuel. On Friday, a plant in Macon, Mo., took the hit — and brought the number to 18. 

The northeast Missouri plant is temporarily halting operations as corn prices top $7 a bushel. It's one of 27 plants that Poet Biorefining owns nationwide, and was the first ethanol plant opened in Missouri in 2000. It has been producing 46 million gallons of ethanol per year since 2003.

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Agriculture
12:34 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Now That Beef With Japan Is Over, Missouri's Economy Stands To Gain

Veronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 11:45 am

Japan's decision to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports will provide a boost to the American meat industry, but tight supplies may limit how much exports can grow this year.

Beef producers hope to restore Japanese sales to where they were before the first case of mad cow disease was found in the United States in 2003.

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill commended Japan’s decision to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports, saying it will be a boost for Missouri's economy.

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Agriculture
12:07 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Modernizing poultry inspection is no easy matter

Retired federal chicken inspector Phyllis McKelvey worked with Change.org and Whistleblower.org to gather signatures on a petition opposing the proposed new poultry slaughter rule. She delivered over 177,000 signatures to the U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Washington, D.C. last fall.
Credit Courtesy of Whistleblower.org

Retired federal inspector Phyllis McKelvey spent 44 years looking for blemishes and other defects on chicken carcasses. She started as an inspector’s helper, worked her way up, and in 1998, became part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture trial.

“I was one of the first group of inspectors ever put on HIMP,” she said in an interview from her home in north Alabama.

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Agriculture
4:26 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Beef labeling rule is caught in bureaucratic limbo

Was that meat mechanically tenderized? Soon, a label might be required to let you know.

A new beef labeling rule that has the support of food safety advocates has been under review for months by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The Kansas City Star reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed requiring labels on steaks and other beef products that have been mechanically tenderized. The process uses automated needles or knives that can drive deadly pathogens deep into the interior of the meat.

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Agriculture
4:00 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Missouri next battleground state for GMO labeling

A 'No GMOs' label.
Timothy Valentine/flickr

When legislation mandating genetically-modified food labels was proposed in California, Oregon and Washington, I wasn't necessarily surprised. But the recent news that GMO labeling is being considered in Missouri was a little bit of a shock. The bill, Senate Bill 155, was sponsored by a Democratic senator from St. Louis named Jamilah Nasheed. If passed, it would go into effect on Sept.

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Agriculture
7:12 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Drought takes head start into 2013

An aerial view of farmland affected by the drought in northeastern Colorado in July 2012. Green circles show irrigated crops next to yellowed, dryland wheat fields.
Lance Cheung USDA

 

2012 was a drought year for the record books. It was the warmest year ever recorded in Des Moines, IowaTopeka, Kan., and Columbia, Mo. and the driest ever in Grand Island, Neb. The question is whether 2013 will be any different.

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Agriculture
4:00 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Farm bill extension doesn’t sit well with many organic farmers

Liz Graznak, who runs Happy Hollow Farm in Jamestown, Mo., is one of many farmers who may not re-certify her operation organic without federal support.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Shoppers looking for organic food may have to look a bit harder this year.

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Agriculture
9:38 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Field Notes: How nitrogen fertilizer killed crop rotation

John Pesek spent 42 years with the agronomy department at Iowa State University, retiring in 1992. He said no amount of nitrogen fertilizer allowed for continuous corn 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.

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Agriculture
4:21 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Corn, soybean production took hit in 2012

Farmer Eric Cress, left, shows Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the drought damage to his corn crop on his farm near Center Point, IA in July 2012.
USDAgov/Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service released its end-of-year Crop Production 2012 Annual Summary Friday.

Not surprisingly, the report revealed that corn and soy production took a beating last year due to the drought that is still ravaging farms all over the Midwest.

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Agriculture
8:16 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Women in ag are topic of new Missouri Extension course

Credit HPM

The University of Missouri Extension is offering a series of courses aimed at helping women in agriculture.

The courses are part of Annie's Project, a program that started in Illinois about nine years ago, and has since spread to other states. The program is named for an Illinois woman who ran a farm and raised six children in the 1950s.

Topics include farm record-keeping and taxes, business plans, how property is titled, pasture rental contracts and estate planning.

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Agriculture
9:29 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Can small farms benefit from Wal-Mart’s push into local foods?

Right now, Missouri Vegetable Farm located 70 miles south of St. Louis doesn’t have anything in its fields. But come summer and fall, peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, sweet corn and pumpkins will be harvested and sold at Wal-Mart.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is muscling in on one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture: local food.

Wal-Mart says 11 percent of the produce sold in its stores nationwide comes from local farms, a large increase from the mere 4 percent it sold two years ago when the chain announced its intention to step up local sourcing as part of a larger sustainability platform and a commitment to buy from small businesses.

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Conservation
8:49 am
Fri January 11, 2013

White River named National Blueway

The White River, which cuts through southern Missouri and Arkansas, is America's second National Blueway.

The Kansas City Star reports that the new National Blueways System is part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative aimed at establishing a community-driven conservation and recreation agenda.

Several groups, including the Nature Conservancy and the Missouri Department of Conservation, nominated the White River for the designation. The White River was given the designation Wednesday.

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Agriculture
8:22 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Drought leads to disaster declaration in Mo.

Credit /

Farmers across most of Missouri now are eligible for federal aid as a result of a natural disaster declaration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Governor Jay Nixon said Wednesday the declaration means farmers can get emergency loans and other assistance from the USDA's Farm Service Agency.

The disaster declaration applies to 31 counties that have suffered extreme or exceptional drought, or have been in a severe drought for more than eight weeks. Farmers in an additional 32 neighboring counties also can receive aid.

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Agriculture
5:14 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Women, Hispanics can file claims for USDA discrimination

The USDA (leader Tom Vilsack seen here) is accepting applications from female and Hispanic farmers who believe the agency discriminated against them in farm loan or loan servicing programs.
Credit USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently accepting claims from female and Hispanic farmers who believe the agency discriminated against them in farm loan or loan servicing programs. The claims process is complex—but the payouts could be large.

After the courts rejected a class action lawsuit from the farmers, USDA agreed to a voluntary settlement process with women and Latinos.

Claimants must submit a 16-page claims package plus additional evidence, and then a third-party will review and determine eligibility.

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Agriculture
8:11 am
Wed January 9, 2013

State pushes pet spay and neuter program

Missouri Agriculture Department director Jon Hagler
Credit File photo

The director of the Missouri agriculture department is promoting a state program that gives grants to groups that provide spay and neutering services for animals.

This is the fifth year of the program, which is funded by proceeds from Missouri's "I'm Pet Friendly" license plates.

Agriculture Director Jon Hagler said Tuesday the public is more concerned these days about animal welfare, particularly dog breeding and inadequate animal shelters.

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Agriculture
8:54 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Drawdowns on wetlands in western Mo.

Drawdowns will be staged at in two wetlands in western Missouri so the Missouri Department of Conservation can conduct aerial topographic surveys on the Upper Osage River flood plain.

Missouri's Conservation Department is lowering the water in two wetlands in the western part of the state to help plan for repairs.

The department says it's conducting aerial topographic surveys on the Upper Osage River flood plain, including wetlands on the Four Rivers and Schell Osage conservation areas south of Kansas City. The department says the surveys will help plan for upcoming wetlands renovations, which will include improvements to levees and other water-control structures.

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Agriculture
10:09 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Food safety rules up for comment

The FDA has proposed new food safety rules focusing, in part, on the produce industry.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two proposed food safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on Friday. The proposed standards come two full years after President Obama signed the act into law in January of 2011. 

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Agriculture
4:00 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Wanted: Large-animal veterinarians willing to work in rural areas

The red flags on this map indicate counties with high concentrations of livestock without veterinarians.
Courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

It's no secret that agriculture in the U.S. has gone through major changes in the past century. But let's focus in on ag labor for a second: back in 1900, 41 percent of the national workforce worked in the agricultural sector. By 2000, just 1.9 percent did, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Over the same time period, millions of residents left rural communities behind, seeking job opportunities in cities.

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Agriculture
2:37 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Field Notes: The year's top stories in agriculture

For the Harvest Network, the drought was the top story in agriculture in 2012. Here, a dry corn field outside Columbia, Mo. photographed in July 2012.
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.

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Agriculture
4:30 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Beef checkoff feud exposes divide within cattle industry

Allen Berry co-owns a cow-calf operation with his wife near Trenton, Mo. Like all other cow-calf operators, Berry pays into a fund that benefits the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board for each animal sold.
Credit 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.

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Agriculture
5:33 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

New food safety rules apply to bulk grains

At DFS Animal Nutrition, Leland McKinney says quality and safety are inextricably linked.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

New food safety regulations are about to be announced by the Food and Drug Administration. These regulations—covering everything from sanitation to record-keeping—are part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which became law two years ago. While the produce and meat industries get the lion’s share of attention, commodity grains now fall under the FDA’s watch.

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Agriculture
2:37 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Beef feedlots grapple with never-ending waste

Allan Sents co-owns McPherson County Feeders, a beef feedlot in central Kansas, with his wife Deanna. His 11,000 cattle produce a lot of waste.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / 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.

You think you deal with a lot of bull crap? Allan Sents needs a front-end loader and a dump truck to deal with all the cattle manure he’s up against. Literally.

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Agriculture
10:19 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Field Notes: Drought will continue to haunt beef industry

Kevin Good talks to ranchers about the drought's impact on the beef industry at the Missouri Cattlemen's Association's 2012 convention.
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.

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Agriculture
3:27 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Judging a cow by more than its cover

Maddee Moore, a “cow-fitter,” helps competing heifers look their best at the American Royal livestock show.
Credit Frank Morris / 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.

Backstage behind the cattle pens at the giant livestock show at the American Royal in Kansas City, Mo., “cow fitter” Maddee Moore was awash in glamour goods.

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Agriculture
10:15 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Increasingly, Holstein beef is what’s for dinner

A registered Holstein at Brandt Dairy in Linn, Mo.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This blog is part of ongoing coverage from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting project in the Midwest that focuses on important issues related to food production and agriculture.

When I dig into a burger, I might think about how the cow the beef came from was raised -- whether it was grass or grain fed, locally raised or imported -- but rarely do I consider what breed of cow the meat came from.

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