Agriculture

Courtesy of Jessica Oreck

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

For more than a decade, fans of documentary film have flocked to Columbia, Mo., for the annual True/False Film Fest. The screenings start on Thursday.

Many of this year’s films are set in big cities -- like Cairo, Rome and New York. But several works also focus on rural life. "Rich Hill" follows three teenagers growing up in a small Missouri community south of Kansas City.  Jessica Oreck’s "The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga" uses animation and stunning scenes of everyday village life in Eastern Europe to tell the Slavic fairytale of Baba Yaga. The film is shot in Super 16.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

When it comes to keeping data secure, farmers are worried about some of the same issues as the rest of us. Precision data from the farm could help drive new levels of productivity, but farmers have to decide just how much they want to share.

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.

Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

 

    

Residents across the Midwest are struggling with tight propane supplies, especially in this bitterly cold, snowy winter. But it’s not just homes in rural counties that are lacking adequate heating fuel. Farms that put bacon and eggs on your breakfast plate are also feeling the supply pinch. 

KBIA File Photo

 

Missouri is curtailing inspections aimed at people who may illegally use farm diesel fuel in their over-the-road vehicles.

In response to concerns from lawmakers, acting Revenue Department Director John Mollenkamp said Wednesday that his agency would stop proactively looking for violations of the diesel fuel law and only respond to requests from law enforcement officials.

Missouri imposes a 17-cent tax on diesel fuel. But that tax is not charged on diesel used only for farming purposes. To distinguish between the two uses, farm diesel fuel is mixed with a dye.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Proponents of a new labeling rule that gi­ves consumers more information about where their meat comes from say they are pleased with the new farm bill President Obama signed into law on Friday. That’s because the bill does not include any significant changes to current country-of-origin labeling rules, known as COOL.

Courtesy Stephen Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Barak Obama signed the new farm bill into law Friday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, ending years of negotiations and wrangling.

With farm equipment, hay bales and crates of apples setting the stage, the president told the crowd that this farm bill – officially called the Agriculture Act of 2014 – will save taxpayer dollars while also offering support to farmers and ranchers. And he says that helps the whole country.

Courtesy National Archives

When President Obama signs the long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the new farm bill – into law Friday, both farmers and food stamps advocates will be sighing in relief. This farm bill process was fraught with ups and downs and the loose coalition tying nutrition and farm programs seemed barely able to survive.

After more than two years of debate on Capitol Hill, a new farm bill is poised to become law after both the U.S. House and Senate approved it.
andrewmalone/Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

President Obama is scheduled to sign the long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014, the new farm bill, into law on Friday afternoon.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The EPA wants to roll back the amount of ethanol mixed into the fuel supply for 2014, worrying farmers across the Corn Belt. Ethanol supporters warn that if the EPA follows through, the rural economy will take the fall. But many economists predict a soft landing.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Donnie Davidson’s family has been producing bottled milk in Holden, Mo., since the 1930s. But the 63-year-old farmer decided to sell his herd of 50 milking cows in November after the roof on one of his barns collapsed from last winter’s snow.

Rebuilding the barn would have cost about $20,000. Then there were the costs of renovating a silo and paying for hired help since Davidson’s children won’t be taking over the business. It made financial sense to close the dairy, and grow crops and build a herd of beef cattle instead.

The White House on Wednesday rolled out a high-profile plan to help farmers and ranchers adjust to climate changes that have already begun to upend growing seasons and threaten livestock.

The "climate hub" initiative was praised by environmentalists, though they were quick to warn President Obama that it would not provide him cover on another environmental issue in the headlines: the Keystone XL pipeline.

missouri capitol
greetarchurchy / Flickr

It’s getting so close now… Wednesday morning the U.S. House passed the Agriculture Act of 2014, the new farm bill. The Senate is expected to take it up soon. President Obama’s signature could be on it in the coming days and then…boom!

jayneadd/Flickr

Talk to any corn farmer and he or she will likely lament the dropping price of corn. But corn growers are not alone. Farmers who grow wheat are beginning to feel the same pinch.

wobble-san/Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production.

wobble-san/Flickr

House and Senate negotiators emerged Monday with a new compromise farm bill, which means the end of the two-year farm bill writing saga may finally be in sight.

The U.S. House approved what's called the Conference Report -- the farm bill negotiated by House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders -- Wednesday. If it were to pass the Senate, as is expected, the bill would head to President Obama’s desk.

farmland
File / KBIA

Opposition is starting to form around a ballot measure that would enshrine a "right to farm" in Missouri's Constitution.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Pork producers across the country are continuing to grapple with a virus that’s killing their piglets. Experts estimate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus has already killed about 1 million baby pigs and the disease shows no sign of abating.

USDA

Fifteen percent of Americans received federal food stamp benefits in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released in early January.

In the Harvest Public Media network, that includes about 936,000 people in Missouri; 420,000 in Iowa; 2 million in Illinois; 179,000 in Nebraska, 507,000 in Colorado, 316,000 in Kansas; and 926,000 in Indiana.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

A steady stream of semi-trailers rolls across the scales at the E Energy ethanol plant near the town of Adams in southeast Nebraska. The smokestack behind the scale house sends up a tall plume of white steam. The sweet smell of fermenting corn is in the air.

E Energy buys 65 million bushels of corn each day from area farmers and turns it into 65 million gallons of ethanol each year.

Grant Gerlock/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.

Mo. lawmakers consider blocking sale of E15 gasoline

Jan 23, 2014
Ethanol pump detail
File Photo / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers are considering whether to permanently block a proposal that could allow more ethanol to be blended into gasoline. 

The Senate rules committee held a hearing Thursday on a resolution that would prevent stations from selling fuel containing 15 percent ethanol.

The state Agriculture Department proposed the rule last year allowing E15 gas to be sold. But a legislative panel delayed the proposal in October, citing a 2006 state law that requires a 10 percent ethanol blend. The department says it has legal authority to allow higher concentrations of ethanol.

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.

Retailers and restaurants like Whole Foods, Chipotle, Safeway, McDonald's and Wal-Mart are all providing information to consumers about how sustainably some of their foods were produced. But as I found doing this story, it's hard to know just what "sustainability" means and how to judge whether food was produced in a "sustainable" way. 

brdavid / Flickr

Last year, we counted between 20 and 30 state legislatures considering bills that mandate labeling on genetically engineered foods or foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Still a hot-topic, many labeling laws are working their way through statehouses all over the nation – even in farm country.

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.

Luke Runyon/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.

Consumers increasingly want the texture and taste of white bread but the nutritional benefits of whole grains. In this week's episode of Field Notes, Harvest Public Media's Luke Runyon reports on a new variety of wheat called Snowmass that could help meet that demand.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A new wheat variety may have cracked the code to marry the fluffiness of white bread with whole grain nutrition.

For a long time, American bread makers have been in a bind. Many consumers like the texture and taste of white bread, but want the nutritional benefits of whole grains.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for foods they believe were sustainably produced, like free-range chicken, fair-trade coffee and pesticide-free wine. But what does “sustainable” actually mean?

Bob Hartzler / Iowa State University

New herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans are a step closer to reaching farm fields in the U.S. They would help farmers control weeds that are no longer killed by the popular herbicide, Roundup.

Roundup resistant crops dominate corn, soybean and cotton production in the U.S. But the list of weeds that have evolved to withstand Roundup is growing, and as a result, farmers are using more chemicals to keep up.

Kevin Dooley / Flickr

Two longtime leaders of the Missouri Soybean Association are out of jobs as part of a shakeup at the prominent agricultural group.

The changes come after an audit of how the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council managed millions of dollars collected annually from farmers for marketing and research on soybeans.

Longtime Executive Director Dale Ludwig and Field Services Manager J.P. Dunn both resigned under pressure Dec. 19. They deny any wrongdoing.

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