Agriculture

Each Peach Market in Washington, D.C., is a far cry from the Trader Joe's where I usually shop. For one thing, it's tiny — smaller than the apartment I share with two others. And there are no lines snaking through aisles and aisles of tempting goods.

You'll find the usual staples here, and also artisanal pickles, locally grown and cured charcuterie, and yogurt from Pennsylvania's Amish country. But don't expect much selection — there are just two brands of olive oil, rather than the several shelves to choose from at Harris Teeter.

Meredith Turk / KBIA

 

Deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri a battles rages over the use of a National Park: The Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This national park is visited by millions each year and was the first federally protected river system, established in 1964.

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.

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.

Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill

Apr 24, 2014

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."

Moberly to add a fresh food farmers market

Apr 21, 2014
Farmers Market
Natalie Maynor

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

pigs
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.

Missouri farmers oppose power line construction

Apr 18, 2014
farmland
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. 

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.

Gardening connoisseur leads food panel at MU expo

Apr 14, 2014
Farmers Market
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.

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.

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.

GMO protestor
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.

beer
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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Mar 26, 2014

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.

In California, severe drought has imperiled millions of juvenile salmon who now face waterways too dry to let them make their usual migration to the Pacific Ocean. So state and federal officials are giving millions of salmon a lift — in 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.

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.

Milk that Central Dairy delivers is kept behind doors secured with three-inch long padlocks.
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. 

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.

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.
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. 

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. 

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.
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?

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.

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

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.

MU agroforestry prof named to USDA council

Mar 6, 2014
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.

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