Agriculture

Photo courtesy Andy Trupin

Missouri farmers appear to have grown more corn and soybeans last year than in 2012.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show Missouri farmers produced an estimated 435 million bushels of corn last year, up 76 percent from 2012. Soybean production rose 25 percent to an estimated 197 million bushels.

rustinpc / flickr

The University of Missouri  has raised half of the $3 million it needs to build a teaching winery.

The Columbia Missourian reports that the university now is seeking matching money from the state for the facility. Plans calls for a research building and wine and food education facility to be added in later phases.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and scientists have long understood that what lives beneath the soil affects how crops grow. Often, they work to fight plant diseases—warding off infectious viruses and damaging fungi, for example. But now some microbiologists are focused on how to harness the good things microbes can do, with the goal of increasing farmers’ yields and diminishing their dependence on chemical inputs.

Flickr / Natalie Maynor

Walk into a grocery store these days and you’re likely to find whole sections devoted to organic foods. The organic label gives insight into how the food was produced, usually without the aid of synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and food additives.

Produce aisle of grocery store
File Photo / KBIA

Limited access to nutritious food is an issue facing rural communities in Missouri and the nation at large, according to University of Missouri specialists. 

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

Normally, Friday, Oct. 11, would be a big day for the commodity markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Report is due, providing what is widely excepted to be the most trusted and complete snapshot of farm markets in the middle of harvest season.

But, with the government shut down the report is not coming out. In fact, farmers and ranchers aren’t getting any of the USDA information they rely on, and in this case, ignorance is not bliss.  

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Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones is planning a statewide tour that will focus on agricultural issues.

The Eureka Republican will make about a half-dozen stops Oct. 15-17 with visits to farms, agricultural products plants and bioenergy facilities. Jones wants to talk with farmers and gather information for the 2014 legislative session.

Communities on the schedule include California and Sedalia.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The disconnect between consumers wanting to know more about where their food comes from and farmers producing that food is nothing new to Harvest Public Media.

drought farm field soybeans
Camille Phillips / Harvest Public Media

The driest August across northern Missouri since 1984 has the United States Department of Agriculture revising crop yield projections downward for the upcoming harvest.  In addition, a continued drought plagues the northern part of the state, with 20 counties affected by what the National Weather Service calls a “severe drought”.

“Drought has and always will be a part of the Missouri landscape,” said University of Missouri Climatologist Pat Guinan.  However, he characterizes the last few weeks as a flash drought, and a “drought on steroids.”

Environmental group says drought losses avoidable

Aug 27, 2013
Credit Chad Sawyer/The SAWYER Agency (Courtesy of NRDC)

Farmers across the country received more than $17 billion in federal crop insurance payouts after last year’s drought. A report released on Tuesday by an environmental group blames farmers for not doing enough to shield the soil against the heat. 

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

USDA

The University of Missouri Extension is warning that recent wet weather increases the chances of diseases developing in corn and soybeans.

Agronomy specialist Jill Scheidt says rain carries funguses in the air, making it easier for the funguses to spread. She says diseases like rust, gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, brown spot, crazy top and stalk and ear rots develop best in wet and humid conditions.

Harum Helmy / KBIA News

This week for the show, I went to the Missouri State Fair and all you’re getting is this audio postcard.

First, I talked to Marlys Peck, who, along with her family, has been selling corn dogs at the fair for more than 41 years. Every year, Peck and her parents spend the state-fair week under the same tree near the historic Womens Building. 

Comprehensive immigration reform is critical to sustaining the Midwest’s role as a global leader in agriculture.

That’s the message from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack told St. Louis Public Radio today that moving forward with the immigration reform plan recently passed by the U.S. Senate is key to retaining international talent that comes to this country to study in the plant sciences.

Credit: DanBruell/Flickr

The nation’s poultry industry exported a record 8.1 billion pounds of chicken last year, according to the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. But a recent decision from the World Trade Organization in the latest skirmish between the US and China could drive up that number dramatically. It’s the latest volley in the export battle between the world’s top two economic superpowers.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is continuing to push Congress to send a farm bill to President Obama’s desk. And he says dwindling farmer numbers mean coupling agricultural policy with nutrition programs is essential.

A coalition of farm and food safety groups wants federal regulators to quash the proposed sale of Smithfield Foods to a Chinese conglomerate in what would be the largest such takeover of a U.S. business.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the 17 groups are asking the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to oppose the pork processor's sale to Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.

Food hubs try to grow local farms

Jul 18, 2013
Sean Powers for Harvest Public Media

Restaurants across the country have jumped on the local food bandwagon. They’re trying to source more of their produce from nearby farms, but it's not easy. Enter: Food hubs.

supplemental nutrition assistance program
Selbe B / flickr

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed its version of the farm bill, a version that excludes funding for nutrition assistance programs nationwide.  But most analysts believe the Democrat-controlled Senate won’t approve a version that does not include funding for programs like food stamps. 

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House passed its version of farm bill legislation Thursday. The revamped bill strips out funding for food aid and deals only with farm policy, exposing a hefty rift in decades-old alliances between urban and rural legislators and between food aid and farm policy interests.

Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Hog farmers across the Midwest are battling a new virus this summer. It’s often fatal in very young piglets, and researchers are still trying to explain the outbreak.

Since mid-May, when Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or PEDV was first identified in this country, it has spread quickly, turning up in 15 states. Over 218 pigs have been diagnosed.

USDA

An agriculture conference in Jefferson City next month will include sessions about marketing, organizing a business and hiring employees.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture says the 2013 AgriMissouri Conference is scheduled for July 21-23. The event will feature panel discussions, speakers and workshops for individuals and businesses operating at farmers' markets, on the farm and through storefronts.

Attendees also will get the chance to visit several agritourism operations, including bed-and-breakfasts and wineries.

Hilary Stohs-Krause / NET

A cattle producers' group wants Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to sign legislation relaxing potential penalties when livestock get loose.

Livestock producers currently can be charged with misdemeanor animal neglect if they fail to provide adequate care or control resulting in substantial harm to an animal.

A bill pending before the governor would apply the animal neglect charge only to inadequate care — not poor control.

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

A University of Missouri plant scientist has launched a website that allows crop producers to track rainfall and the risk of nitrogen loss during the spring seasons. 

Farmers in Missouri, Illinois and much of the Midwest are having a tough time getting their corn planted.

The US Department of Agriculture says in Illinois just 7 percent of the corn crop is in the ground; while in Missouri it’s 22 percent.

Usually, nearly half of the nation’s corn has been planted by this time.

Mansoor Khan for Harvest Public Media

Can a watermelon be grown in the shape of a square? What do Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps eat for breakfast? Which island nation produces the most lamb in the world? Consumers interested in pulling back the curtain on our food system will get these and many other questions answered at “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture.” The exhibition, on view now at the American Museum of Natural History, explores how our food is produced, distributed and eaten.

Courtesy of Trufflepig Films

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

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.

Farmer woman
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.

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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