dno1967b / Flickr

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

File photo / KBIA

The Buddy Pack program at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is in trouble.

Andy Dandino / USDA

Following up on President Obama's State of the Union address last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is touring the country, touting his boss's job-creation efforts in rural America -- Missouri was his latest stop. In this week's Health & Wealth update, a conversation with Secretary Vilsack: we talk rural jobs, USDA office closures, and the fate of the farmer's safety net in the face of natural disasters and shrinking budgets. 

File photo / KBIA

Recruiting doctors to small towns is a chronic problem. Most places try to lure a physician by rolling out the red carpet with a big salary, a home on a golf course or other cushy perks.

Not so in Ashland, Kan., population 855, where the CEO of a tiny hospital is building a reverse recruitment model based on remote access and problems commonly found in third-world countries.

US Ag Secretary talks cuts

Jan 27, 2012

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Missouri touting President Obama’s job creation plans, laid out this week in his state of the union address. This comes as the agriculture department faces a shrinking budget.

Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel has announced a new financial assistance package for beginning farmers trying to make their way in an expensive industry.

Who's at fault when an emu attacks?

Jan 25, 2012
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Agriculture and tourism are two of Missouri's biggest industries. But when the two activities meet -- think wine tastings or hay rides -- legal complexities ensue. On this week's Health & Wealth update, farmers in Missouri want the legislature to pass a law clarifying who is liable if someone gets hurt in the corn maze.

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.

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.

Missouri gets a round of snow, drivers cautioned

Jan 12, 2012
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

A winter-weather advisory remains in effect until 6:00 this evening for much of the region, with moderate to light snow continuing to fall throughout the day. Snow, blowing snow and sleet may cause difficult conditions  for drivers. 

Jessica Naudziunas / KBIA

If you've been to a Hy-Vee grocery store recently, chances are you've seen some numbers right next to the price of an item of food.

It's a "NuVal" - a nutritional value placed on each and every food product. 

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


The state of Missouri is creating more than $3.3 million in grants to help north Missouri communities repair flood-damaged Missouri river levees.

Michael Porter / Flickr

With funding in hand, U.S. food safety regulations will see the biggest changes in almost 70 years in 2012. 

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.

Todd Post / Bread for the World

The U.S. fuel industry rang in the new year with a little less help from the government after the previously entrenched Volumetric Ethanol Excise Credit expired on Dec. 31, 2011.

File Photo

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

Whoever wins, the 2012 presidential election is sure to change the country, and the farm.

The eventual Republican nominee will have to address numerous farm-related issues. In this era of shrinking budgets, what will happen to crop insurance, agricultural subsidies and the farm bill? With a renewed national focus on the environment and foreign oil dependence, what role will ethanol play in the future? With high land prices, how will family farmers continue to pass their farms to the next generation? How will changes in immigration policy affect farmers? / Flickr

Presidential politics are in full flare in Iowa, as evidenced by the wave of dueling TV ads, and Republican candidate appearances at local businesses and churches. But leading up to the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses, something seems to be missing.

By Kathleen Masterson.

photo courtesy of USDA

There have been plenty of distractions over the last year on and off the farm. The farm bill that never was stirred speculation late into November; drought reaked havoc on much of the southwest; and the price of an acre of farmland has shot up 32 percent in Iowa over the last year. On this week's Field Notes, a look back at some of the big stories in agriculture in 2011.

I recently went to this local Columbia, Mo., event called 20/20. It’s a bimonthly gathering that highlights culture-makers in town who are often hidden from the public as they create, research and organize innovative ideas. And here’s the twist: These passionate people quickly present their ideas while a screen behind them displays 20 images over 400 seconds.

For the U.S. military around the world, the enemy can be hard to pinpoint and even harder to defeat. Back at home, the Army has a tiny and vexing foe in its sights: the bacteria that cause food to rot.

In this bacterial battle, though, it's clearer who's winning, and the evidence is a humble pocket sandwich, which looks from the outside no different than your average hot pocket in the frozen foods aisle.

Agrilifetoday / Flickr

During the fall harvest, food pantries across the state received more than 50 tons of produce from an unlikely source.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

Many small polutry farmers in Iowa are having trouble finding a place to butcher their meat after the closure of another small Iowa poultry processing plant. Some producers argue that unnecessarily stringent regulations are driving these plants out of business. 

By Kathleen Masterson.

Clay Masters / Harvest Public Media

With more families depending on the National School Lunch Program to feed their children, school districts are gearing up to implement new nutrition guidelines being handed down by the federal government by early next year.

By Clay Masters.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

Just as the local foods movement is growing legs in the Midwest, a key piece of infrastructure is struggling. 

By Kathleen Masterson.

The Knowles Gallery / Flickr

Seventy-four-year-old Bill Sandquist has farmed 300 acres southwest of Adel, Iowa, for 54 years. But the last six have been entirely different.

By Rob Dillard.

 “I used to raise a lot of hogs, used to feed cattle,” Sandquist said. “Then in ’05, when cancer took my arm, I had to give up the hogs. Basically, we’re grain farmers now and partially retired, too.”

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.


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.

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.