Agriculture

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.

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.

The new company Fquare is bringing crowd-sourcing to the increasingly lucrative market of investing in farmland.

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.

Jake Godin / KBIA

Feeding cattle on grass is supposed to help the animals thrive. But Missouri’s most popular grass for feeding cattle may be doing more harm than good.

Metal thefts plague farm country

Jul 17, 2013
Payne Roberts / Harvest Public Media


Along the 1200 Road in Windsor, Mo., there is plenty of gravel and farmland. But one thing it is short of is people.

Miles of green fields separate the farms that occupy this area of Windsor, a rural town of 3,000, making area farms easy targets in a series of metal thefts that robbed farmers of the tools they needed to do their jobs.

Mike Obermann was among the victims. He owns a farm of row crops and cattle northwest of Windsor with his wife. In the theft, he lost $500-600 worth of fencing material and an aluminum boat.

Why does the water taste so funny in Columbia?

Jul 17, 2013
Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Actually we think it's pretty ok. But some people can't stand it! CoMo Explained investigates with guest host Abbie Fentress Swanson:


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. 

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma.

Thomas retired two years ago after teaching exercise physiology for 35 years and he knew what he wanted to do next.

Wikimedia Commons

Americans eat millions of pounds of fish and seafood and government figures show that 80 percent of it is imported. But two cousins in Iowa are hoping to find a place in that market by investing in aquaculture in a part of the country where pork is king.

Jeff and Mark Nelson have raised corn and hogs for years, but they were looking to diversify their operation. Farm raised fish in Iowa has been tried before but with limited success. It involved outdoor ponds and mostly catfish. The Nelsons’ have moved their venture inside.

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.

Across the Midwestern corn belt, a familiar battle has resumed, hidden in the soil. On one side are tiny, white larvae of the corn rootworm. On the other side are farmers and the insect-killing arsenal of modern agriculture.

America's hugely productive food system is one of its success stories. The nation will export a projected $139.5 billion in agricultural products this fiscal year alone. It's an industry that supports "more than 1 million jobs," according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

But all that productivity has taken a toll on the environment, especially rivers and lakes: Agriculture is the nation's leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Who wants biotech wheat?

Jul 3, 2013
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Air Philavanh is a new farmer in central Iowa who came to this country from Laos as a refugee more than 30 years ago. Today, he’s living on an 11-acre farm in Milo, Iowa, about an hour from Des Moines.

Philavanh bought the place three years ago and he’s built a brand-new shelter for his four beef calves off the end of a decrepit old barn. He’s made many other improvements, too, as he gets his farm up and running. In addition to the cattle, he hopes to add ducks. It’s a far cry from his day job with Citigroup—and not what he initially imagined for himself.

Flickr

A group of Columbia activists are promoting organic agricultural practices as a way to improve community health and the environment. The Columbia Climate Change Coalition met Thursday, June 20, to discuss ways to better the environment through organic agriculture.

The Columbia Climate Change Coalition is part of Peoples’ Visioning, which is a group that discusses climate, finance, energy, public health, education and transportation.

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.

Courtesy of wunderground.com

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.

Over the last three years, the Midwest has gone from flooding to drought and back to flooding. This is a case of “weather whiplash,” a term first used in April by Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and co-founder of the online weather forecasting site Weather Underground.

tractor on farmland
(tpsdav/pixabay)

In a stunning move, the U.S. House voted against approving farm bill legislation Thursday, leaving the bill's future up in the air.

The House rejected the farm bill on a final tally of 234-195 after a day of dramatic, tight votes on amendments to the bill.

Why crop insurance subsidies are winning out

Jun 19, 2013
farmer in a field
Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

There is little doubt that crop insurance will emerge from the current farm bill process with hefty subsidies in place. If anything, the program will become a larger part of the farming safety net.

Members of Missouri and Illinois' Congressional delegations are weighing in on the U.S. House version of the Farm Bill, which could be voted on before week's end.

Illinois Republican Rodney Davis told reporters today via conference call that the bill is a big improvement over the version passed by the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A last-minute move by Missouri lawmakers could make it easier for a Chinese conglomerate to buy one of the biggest pork producers in the U.S.

Legislators agreed on their final day of work in May to remove a ban on foreign ownership of agricultural land in Missouri. That change sets a foreign ownership limit at 1 percent of the state's agricultural land, subject to approval by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Eleven miles northeast of Centralia, Mo., five U.S. Geological Survey scientists don waders and bright reflective life jackets to wade into Goodwater Creek. Plenty of fish live in the stream’s murky slow-moving waters, along with snakes, crayfish, mussels and snapping turtles. On this overcast morning, the team collects water samples and checks submerged cages of fathead minnows for eggs.

Mohammad Hannon / Associated Press

In Jordan this week, dozens of journalists demonstrated near the royal palace in Amman. They were protesting against the government’s decision to block access to about 300 of the country’s 400 local news websites.

artizone/Flickr

If you've experienced sticker shock shopping for ground beef or steak recently, be prepared for an entire summer of high beef prices.

Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country's beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs. Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds — some even liquidated all their cattle — which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, a series from KBIA Radio's partner Harvest Public Media that chronicles Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

The U.S. Senate approved a new comprehensive farm bill Monday, its plan for everything from food and nutrition assistance to disaster aid for livestock producers to crop insurance for farmers. But before you go popping champagne corks and celebrating the creation of five-years of agricultural policy, know this: The U.S. House has yet to weigh in.

Wikimedia Commons

  The Missouri Department of Agriculture has announced an expansion of a quarantine area on pine products to Adair and Clark counties. The quarantine prohibits the distribution of pine products as an attempt to reduce the spread of the Pine Shoot Beetles.  

Photo courtesy of the USDA.

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.  

Hilary Stohs-Krause / NET

The two-day Emerging Issues in Agricultural Lending Symposium at MU ended Thursday. This is the second year for the symposium, which gathered a variety of agricultural lenders such as loan officers, credit analysists, regulators and board members.

The symposium brought in experts to speak to lenders on challenges the agriculture industry is currently facing and possible solutions.

Symposium Director Joe Horner says the symposium gives an opportunity for experts to share changes with lenders and for lenders to have a chance to share their ideas.

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