Agriculture

Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Chucking the cheese dream

Mark Amstrong and Barbara Grant have walked away from their successful cheese-making operation near Springville, Iowa
Dean Borg Iowa Public Radio

Becoming a small farmer is an entrepreneurial dream for some people. But when the dream comes true — even when it’s successful — the reality can be quite different from expectations.

By Dean Borg.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Organic makes economic sense for grain farmers, study finds

Bigstock

Organic grain crops bring in about $200 more per acre than their conventional counterparts, according to a study from Iowa State University. And that’s after taking into account labor, land and production costs.

By Kathleen Masterson.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Mon December 12, 2011

What do you 'really' think about school lunches?

The federal government released new guidelines for healthy eating. Now, it's represented on a plate, not a pyramid.
Clay Masters Harvest Public Media

If you turned on the T.V. last month you were sure to find late night comedians poking fun at Congress declaring that tomato paste on pizza qualified as a vegetable.

By Clay Masters.

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Agriculture
12:00 am
Mon December 12, 2011

No Food In Sight

Many communities don't have regular access to affordable nutritious food products. Residents of these food deserts, whether rural or urban, struggle to find ways to put food on the table and many are wary of a public health crisis.

By Jessica Naudziunas.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Planting a grocery store in a food desert

Althea Sender has to shop in a town 30 miles away from home.
Sylvia Maria Gross KCUR

It only took a few hours for Onaga to turn into a food desert.

When this northeast Kansas town’s only grocery store burned down last December, its 700 residents suddenly faced a 25-mile trip for fresh food.

By  Sylvia Maria Gross.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Sat December 10, 2011

The Farmers March hopes farmers occupy the streets

Occupy Wall Street's Sustainability Working Group set up composting stations at the movement's encampment in Zucotti Park in New York.
Tony the Misfit Flickr

When farmers gather in New York City it's usually to peddle gorgeous heirloom tomatoes or sweet colorful peppers to bankers rushing toward the Subway. But this weekend, the Occupy Wall Street movement hopes farmers will take center stage.

By JEREMY BERNFELD.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Sat December 10, 2011

Another broken link to the farm

Last month I took a tour of my wife’s grandparent’s new home in the western Minnesota town of Chokio, population around 400. I carried my 1-year-old daughter across the concrete floors and through the dry-walled rooms. The house is on the edge of town, near their church, behind the grain co-op. Their excitement was reserved.  Rightfully so: They recently sold their farmland — though it was for more money than they ever thought they’d get for it.

By Clay Masters.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Sat December 10, 2011

Harvesting the 'fabric of our lives'

It takes more than a month for farmer Tom Leahy to harvest his cotton crop.
Eric Durban Harvest Public Media

Despite its theoretical absence of color, circles of white cotton added a splash to the varying shades of brown covering the fields of southwest Kansas on a recent mid-October afternoon.

By Eric Durban.

It’s harvest time, when the fruits of labor bloom. When it comes to cotton, the fruit literally comes to bear.

After a couple of rains in the area messed up my plans to join the cotton harvest, the ground finally dried up and I hopped into the cotton stripper with farmer Tom Leahy to make the slow trek around his Stevens County, Kan., cotton fields. 

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Harvest Public Media
11:21 am
Fri December 9, 2011

What would you like in the 2012 Farm Bill?

Dwight Sipler Flickr

We’ve got a bit of dead time, here at the end of 2011, before work starts in earnest again on the 2012 Farm Bill.

By Peggy Lowe.

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Harvest Public Media
11:16 am
Fri December 9, 2011

Will farmers be resistant to Monsanto seed after reports of resistance?

A western corn rootworm on a corn leaf.
USDA

The world’s largest seed company may be seeing some resistance to one of its product by a very small pest.

By Peggy Lowe.

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Agriculture
2:28 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Horse slaughter from the farmer’s point of view

Until 2006, about 150,000 horses annually were sent to slaughter for meat.
gnuru Flickr

Outlawing the slaughter of horses may not sound like a bad thing. But for farmers and the animals, the consequences of such a ban in the U..S. have been far-reaching and complicated.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Grab an ear, then give it a twist and a jerk

Hand-harvested popcorn from Maytag Dairy Farms.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
11:00 am
Mon December 5, 2011

You are what your food eats

Cows on Sally Angell's farm in Centralia, Mo., eat a diet of hay and grass supplemented with a plant-based grain feed.
Jessica Naudziunas Harvest Public Media

According to a study from the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, Americans consume a lot of meat, and the quality of the meat products is directly linked to animal feeding management. So, if you’re an average eater who chows down on over six ounces of meat daily, consider checking out the nutrition content on the animal feed label.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Healthy score cards create (more) confusion

Really?
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.    

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Wed November 30, 2011

'Natural' food labels lack regulation, naturally

The "All Natural" label can mean different things for different products.
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.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Taking the grass-fed road less traveled

Prescott Frost holds a photo of his great grandfather, poet Robert Frost.
Hilary Stohs-Krause NET

Two roads diverge in the U.S. beef industry. Americans are buying more alternatively raised meat — organic, natural, grass-fed and the like – but most large-scale cattle producers in the Midwest are not cashing in on the trend.

By Clay Masters.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Robot tractors take farmers out of the driver’s seat

Kansas farmer Jason Ochs still has to man his tractor to plant winter wheat. If an autonomous tractor were planting the wheat, Ochs would be free to attend to his corn and sorghum, and prepare for the winter freeze.
Eric Durban Harvest Pubic Media

Efficiency is the name of the game these days in agriculture: conserving money, time and manpower. But taking the farmer out of the tractor? Though it sounds like something out of a science fiction cartoon, it may be coming.

A robot tractor doesn’t quite have the same allure as the Jetsons’ flying car, but it’s likely to be more practical for everyone involved.

By Eric Durban.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Midwest farmland values continue to soar

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.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Sat November 26, 2011

USDA: Locally grown food a $4.8 billion business

Wheatsfield Cooperative Grocery in Ames, Iowa, makes an effort to purchase food grown by local farmers in addition to their other products.
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.)

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Natural questions about meat labels

Meat that’s raised with antibiotics, growth promoters, and fed animal by-products could be labeled “Natural” under the current USDA definition of the term. That’s because the label only refer to how the meat was processed after slaughter.
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.

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Agriculture
4:40 pm
Thu November 24, 2011

Nixon committed to repairing river levees

Governor Jay Nixon told reporters during a press event at a Callaway County farm along the Missouri that farmlands damaged by both high water releases and levee demolition must be restored

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Thu November 24, 2011

Agriculture banks are outperforming their peers

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.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 am
Wed November 23, 2011

Drought pushes the limits of irrigation

In Kansas, irrigation accounts for more water usage than municipal and industrial uses combined:
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.

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Harvest Public Media
12:00 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Failure of budget deficit process scuttles farm bill

 

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.

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Agriculture
12:00 am
Fri November 18, 2011

New farm bill details emerge

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.

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Agriculture
12:13 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

It's in your Backyard: Scientists Urge Plan for Climate Change

Rain batters a farm near Nevada, Iowa, in August 2010.
Photo by cwwycoff1 Flickr

By Kathleen Masterson (Harvest Public Media)

Climate change is already affecting Midwestern climate and state and local governments should start doing something about it, prominent Iowa scientists urged Tuesday. Thirty-one scientists from colleges and universities across the state signed apetition that advocates for action on climate change.

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Agriculture
12:12 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Keystone XL Oil Pipeline on Back Burner Until 2012

Activists protest the Keystone XL pipeline project outside the White House in August.

By Clay Masters (Harvest Public Media)

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has been delayed until after the 2012 presidential election. Some say that’s convenient since environmental groups have used the construction of the pipeline as a test of the president’s environmental commitment.

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Agriculture
9:00 am
Sun November 13, 2011

In Iowa, some farmers see changing climate

A new survey found that about 68 percent of Iowa farmers believe climate change is occurring.
kdemerly Flickr

By Kathleen Masterson (Harvest Public Media)

Running a successful farm business relies on hard work, good soil and seeds and, most of all, weather. So it makes sense that many farmers have real concerns about climate change. 

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Agriculture
9:00 am
Sat November 12, 2011

Some farmers look Beyond Organic

There's a division within the organic food movement.
Sarah Cady Flickr

By Jeremy Bernfeld (Harvest Public Media)

Some organic farmers don’t want to have their products labeled Certified Organic. For them, the Certified Organic label doesn’t go far enough. They want to go Beyond Organic.

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Agriculture
1:05 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

What does sustainable mean to you?

The sun sets over William Powers' farm in Ceresco, Neb.
Photo by William Powers Harvest Network

Despite this being harvest season, I’ve been pestering farmers with theoretical questions about food and agriculture labels.

Here’s something I’ve learned: If there’s one thing to guarantee a lengthy conversation with an ag-minded person, regardless of his or her crop harvesting schedule, it might be on the farm labels.

I’ve also learned that there comes a point when slapping a pithy saying on an agricultural method is a detriment to understanding just how a farmer does his job.

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