Environment

Bird Flu Threatens Missouri's Turkey Farms

Mar 13, 2015
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

 A highly contagious strain of bird flu that was found on two Missouri turkey farms could hurt the state’s poultry industry. 

The virus isn’t dangerous to humans. But Missouri farmers produce more than a billion dollars-worth of turkeys and chickens every year. And the market for exports is big.

Lisa Jacobs / Flickr

 

Officials from the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission are making major changes to Boone County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. 

dishfunctional / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation is working to control Chronic Wasting Disease, a degenerative brain disease that is infecting mid-Missouri’s deer population.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

After years of negotiations, a dozen countries – from New Zealand up to Canada –are on the verge of a trade agreement that could be worth billions of dollars to the U.S. agriculture industry. Many American farmers and ranchers are eager to see the expected benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

A free trade agreement across the Pacific Ocean could open up markets and raise prices for him as well as other rice producers, said Chuck Earnest, a rice farmer in southeast Missouri.


When it comes to the current controversy over antibiotic use on farm animals, milk is in a special category.

Lactating cows, unlike hogs, cattle or chickens that are raised for their meat, don't receive antibiotics unless they are actually sick. That's because drug residues immediately appear in the cow's milk — a violation of food safety rules.

Milk shipments are tested for six of the most widely used antibiotics, and any truckload that tests positive is rejected. So when cows are treated, farmers discard their milk for several days until the residues disappear.

It's March. It's freezing. And there's half a foot of snow on the ground. When is this winter going to end?

Cade Cleavelin / KBIA

Farmers in the upper Midwest lost about $570 million last winter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture blames most of those losses on transportation.

America's oil boom is going through some growing pains. But despite the recent dip in oil prices, some segments of the industry are focused on long-term growth.

In southwestern Washington state, oil companies want to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country at the Port of Vancouver, on the banks of the Columbia River.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

Pioneer Forest is located deep in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks.

It's the largest private landowner in the state with 143,000 acres spread out over six counties.  For about 60 years Pioneer has cut down trees on its land and sold them.  But its founder, Leo Drey, had something else in mind for the land management company besides making money.  And his philosophy is still in place at Pioneer all these years later.

When admiring such enticing items at the grocery store as an avocado for $1.50, an $8 chocolate bar or fresh wild Alaskan salmon for $20 a pound, you've probably experienced sticker shock.

Indeed, retailers and restaurants offer myriad opportunities to blow your food budget in one fell swoop.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

Critics of the so-called 'right to farm' amendment to Missouri’s state Constitution brought their case to the state Supreme Court Wednesday. 

The amendment is meant to protect Missouri farmers from new laws that would change current farm practices they currently use.

Oil companies in North Dakota are looking for the fastest and cheapest way to get their product to refineries, and they've set their sights on moving more of their product by rail to the Northwest.

There are six new oil terminals proposed for Washington state. Half of them could be built in the small communities around Grays Harbor, a bay on the Pacific coast about 50 miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River.

For years, some small towns and farmers along the Mississippi River have been battling each other over a flood project set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On the western shore, farmers in southeast Missouri need the project to protect their valuable farmland. But small river towns on the eastern side of the river say the project protects those influential farmers at the cost of their small communities. As a last-ditch effort, the opposition to the project is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to kill the project all together.

Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet.

The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.

The message from park rangers, amateur metal detectors and regular fisherman at California's Lake Perris is unanimous: The water is lower than they've ever seen it.

Back From War, on to the Farm

Feb 21, 2015
John Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees - apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables. And then she bought her first chickens.

“A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal,” she said. “Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows, and then it just explodes from there.”

Creech served as a surgery nurse during the Iraq War. She has a master’s degree and 16 years of experience. But she turned to farming when her career in nursing fell apart.


The Arctic cold snap that has gripped much of the U.S. lately may be causing hardship for many, but it's also creating some spectacular ice formations at Niagara Falls. The spectacle is drawing huge crowds on both the Canadian and American side of the border.

The air temperature is so cold that the water and mist coming off the falls is frozen in place. Some of the formations look like massive boulders, others look like long shards of white glass.

The federal government banned the sale of raw milk across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it.

Charles Knowles/Wikimedia Commons

American taxpayers spend billions of dollars on agriculture programs to support the nation's  farmers. Right now, across the Corn Belt, farmers are choosing their safety nets. As Harvest Public Media's Amy Mayer reports, their decisions over the next few weeks will have a huge influence on the total cost of the government programs.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

You may have heard about LEED certified buildings. The non-profit U.S. Green Building Council developed the nationally accepted LEED benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.  It's a complex system where the owner of a building gets points toward LEED certification by incorporating sustainable practices into just about every aspect of the construction process.  

Grass Roots Organizing Asks Council to Look at Coal Contract

Feb 13, 2015
File / KBIA

Grass Roots Organizing is asking the Columbia City Council to get out of what they believe is a bad contract with a coal plant in southern Illinois that provides part of the city’s electricity.

Ameren Missouri

  The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission resumed the vote on Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center’s license renewal earlier this week.

The NRC recently released a document on its website stating that after a review of Ameren Missouri’s application, it would “support the option of license renewal from an environmental perspective.” The vote was originally suspended in December after the Missouri Coalition for the Environment petitioned the license renewal.

Sierra Club members take on trail maintenance

Feb 3, 2015
Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

Many folks are familiar with the Katy Trail.  It's used a lot and maintained by the State Department of Natural Resources.

If a glacier cracks and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?

"Oh, they moan and they groan," says Grant Deane, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "They crackle and rumble and fizz, and they have all kinds of amazing sounds that they make."

Deane is one of the authors of a new study that interprets the acoustics of glacial melting.

President Obama is about to get his first veto opportunity of the new Congress. A bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project will be on his desk soon. He has promised to veto it, and that's unusual. In his first six years in office, Obama issued just two vetoes — the fewest of any president going all the way back to James Garfield, and Garfield only served 199 days in office!

The State Senate has approved a bill that will create incentives for Missouri’s dairy farmers.

  The bill passed in the Senate 32-2 and will continue on to the House, where its own version of this legislation was initially approved.

The legislation will provide subsidies to help dairy farmers pay for insurance, along with a scholarship for students studying farming and funds for research on the industry.

The funds for the incentives would have to be approved separately from this bill, and would come from an already existing sales tax on dairy products.

cornfield
bionicteaching / Flickr

Scientists have noticed a change in the atmosphere. Plants are taking in more carbon dioxide during the growing season and giving off more carbon in the fall and winter. Recent research shows the massive corn crop in the Corn Belt may be contributing to that deeper breath.

You want a cup of decaf. Your significant other is craving the fully caffeinated stuff. With the simple push of a button, Keurig's single-serving K-Cup coffee pods can make both of you happy.

But those convenient little plastic pods can pile up quickly, and they're not recyclable. And that's created a monster of an environmental mess, says Mike Hachey. Literally.

dishfunctional / Flickr

  Two more cases of a deadly deer disease have been found in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Conservation on Monday reported that a Macon County adult buck and an adult doe in Adair County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Since a highly contagious strain of bird flu was found in the U.S. in December, many countries have closed their doors to chickens and turkeys raised here.

The virus isn’t harmful to humans and, so far, only wild birds and backyard flocks have been infected. But commercial poultry farmers are worried because they have the most to lose.

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