Environment

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.

Fishing
File Photo / KBIA

Missouri's cold winter is killing off more fish than usual in ponds and lakes.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The average age of American farmers has been climbing for decades, and many say rural towns are at-risk without new blood. There are enough people who want to farm, but there’s trouble connecting beginning farmers and the communities that need them.

dok1/Flickr

The days of record high corn prices are gone, at least for now, and they’re only going to continue their decline, according to projections released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (PDF)

You can pin part of the blame on the 2012 drought, when corn hit an all-time high of $8.31 per bushel. The dry conditions made corn a limited commodity.

Farmers received some gloomy news from the US Department of Agriculture earlier this month -- that lower corn prices are here to stay.
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. 

Farmers received some gloomy news from the US Department of Agriculture earlier this month. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports in this week's Field Notes, the USDA is predicting that lower corn prices are here to stay. 

Missouri Farm Bureau holds annual Commodity Conference

Feb 25, 2014
Xiaosu Tian / KBIA

  The Missouri Farm Bureau’s annual Commodity Conference and Legislative Briefing brought over 200 Missouri farmers to Jefferson City Monday and Tuesday. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said the event is meant to help inform Missouri farmers of current issues in agriculture.

“Well we hope that they leave here both better prepared for the coming year to try and anticipate what the weather and markets might do, and also better informed about the policy issues that affect them, their farms and their local communities,” Hurst said.

Courtesy of Jessica Oreck

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

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.

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.

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