Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Heritage grains are trendy. Walk through a health food store and see packages of grains grown long before modern seed technology created hybrid varieties, grains eaten widely outside of the developed world: amaranth, sorghum, quinoa.

But there’s another grain with tremendous potential growing on the Great Plains: millet.


Consumers can rest assured that even with the government shutdown that went into effect on Tuesday, all of the meat, poultry and eggs bought from the grocery store will be inspected as usual by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But that’s not necessarily the case for other foods -- like cheese, produce and boxes of cereal. Inspections for these products fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, which had to furlough 45 percent of its staff on Tuesday.

tractor on farmland

Farmers are working without a farm bill after a nine-month extension on the last one expired Sept. 30. 

Kristi Bonney / flickr

Federal officials are seeking public comment on proposals for protecting several endangered animals and plants in Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest.

USDAgov / Flickr

The expansion of the tree-killing emerald ash borer into new areas means ash wood can now be transported freely within Missouri.

Mo. Department of Conservation opens to public input

Sep 27, 2013
Missouri Department of Conservation logo
File Photo / KBIA

The Missouri Department of Conservation recently introduced plans to include public input on designated conservation areas around the state. The new process is meant to help hikers, fishers and hunters express what they like and dislike regarding the planning and maintenance of the areas.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Congress is bitterly divided on food stamps and other issues contained in the farm bill, but both political parties agree on something: the $5 billion-a-year farm subsidy called Direct and Countercyclical Payments has got to go.

The program shells out to farmers and land owners regardless of need or loss. It’s a hold-out from a farm bill that promised an end to subsidies and it’s holding on only because Congress is so dysfunctional.  


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.

My Farm Roots: Providing from the land

Sep 25, 2013

This is an installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

dbaron / flickr

Two species of freshwater mussels that live in southwest Missouri will soon be placed under federal protection.

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.

Obamacare could be tough sell in rural areas

Sep 19, 2013
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media


The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” takes a big step forward Oct. 1 when new health insurance marketplaces open for enrollment. Rural families are more likely to qualify for subsidized coverage, but reaching them to sign up will be part of the challenge.

My Farm Roots: Always a farmer

Sep 18, 2013

This is an installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

In 1986, Becky Doyle was helping her husband run the family’s hog farming operation. She also had a sidelight business of marketing gift baskets made from Illinois products. But that wasn’t enough: Doyle decided she would make a run for the Illinois House.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Howard Hill pulls his red Chevy pick-up truck up to a barn near Union, Iowa, that houses 1,000 of his hogs. In the truck’s bed is a 55-pound bag of Rumensin 90, a common antibacterial ingredient in cattle feed that helps reduce bloating. Pigs don’t eat it. Hill brought it here to dump into the manure pit under the hogs.

Hill is among the many Midwestern pork producers who use deep pits under their barns to accumulate manure throughout the year. In the fall, after fields are harvested, the nutrient-rich slurry gets pumped out of the pits and injected into the cropland.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Hog producers and their veterinarians have a new tool to help with the fight against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV). 

The first cases of the fast-spreading disease in the United States were confirmed last spring, prompting researchers to leap into action. At this point, PEDV has been confirmed on nearly 600 farms in 17 states.

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.”

courtesy of Zynga


The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

BigStock image

A federal judge has ruled that the meat industry must implement a new U.S. Department of Agriculture country-of-labeling rule, also known as COOL. The rule, which the USDA finalized in May, requires companies to label where animals were born, raised and slaughtered; and prohibits meat from two different animals from being comingled and sold in the same package.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers may now have to wait until Congress makes its decisions about Syria before the farm bill gets any more attention.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said a farm bill conference committee could meet without disrupting the debate on Syria, but he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“Syria’s going to put the farm bill on the back burner,” Grassley said. “I don’t think that’s justified, but that’s what we’ve been told. And how far—on how many back burners back—I don’t know.”

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media


When a new disease — known as PEDV —turned up in the U.S. hog industry in May and threatened to kill whole litters of piglets, the National Pork Board quickly responded with $450,000 in research funding.

Clay Masters

This summer, officials in Iowa have been asking farmers to voluntarily reduce the amount of fertilizer they use. That’s because the fertilizer contains nitrates that are being washed into state waterways and creating environmental concerns locally and nationally. The runoff has been particularly bad this year, and the outcry over typical crop practices is growing.

Photo courtesy of Timothy Baker

Shoppers hoping to buy berries, peaches and grapes at farmers markets in Missouri may be looking a little bit harder this summer due to a newly arrived pest that is damaging crops across the state.

Federal conservation programs soon to lose funding

Sep 4, 2013

Farmers across the country are being encouraged to sign up for federal conservation programs. The catch is, as of now, the programs have no funding.

Scott Stuntz reports for Harvest Public Media.

My Farm Roots: Looking back fondly

Sep 4, 2013


This is an installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

More than once while I was listening to Paul Horel's stories about farm life in Iowa, I felt like I was at a family reunion. With his glasses and balding head, mild Midwestern accent, and talk about plowing and politics, he could easily have been my uncle.  

drought farm field soybeans
Camille Phillips / Harvest Public Media

Parts of southern Missouri experienced flash flooding this past month. Now parts of northern Missouri are in a flash drought.

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.

Jacob McCleland / Harvest Public Media


Feral hogs are a big, expensive problem. The prolific procreators are responsible for $1.5 billion in damages and prevention each year —$800 million in damages to agriculture alone from destroying land and rooting up crops,according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farm Progress visitors worry about weather

Aug 29, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

Hot weather has been greeting visitors to this year’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, one of the country’s largest agriculture trade shows.

This is an installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Amy Konishi says when her obituary is written it’ll read, “All she knew was work.”

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.