Food companies face water risk

May 13, 2015
water faucet
Jenn Durfey / flickr


America’s biggest food production companies face a growing threat of water scarcity, according to a new report from Ceres, an environmental sustainability group.

The report cites pollution as one of the primary culprits.

The state of California is asking a basic question right now that people often fight over: What's a fair way to divide up something that's scarce and valuable? That "something," in this case, is water.

There's a lot at stake, including your very own nuts, fruits and vegetables, because most of the water that's up for grabs in California goes to farmers. This year, some farmers will get water, and others will not, simply based on when their land was first irrigated.

When Gov. Jerry Brown announced the largest mandatory water restrictions in California history April 1 while standing in a snowless field in the Sierra Nevada, he gave hardly a mention to farms.

File / KBIA

On this week's Under the Microscope, water quality in Missouri does not meet federal regulations, a lawsuit over eggs between Missouri and California, and plant seeds kept in a mountain in case of a catastrophic event. 

stormwater drain
Thirteen of Clubs / flickr

Ameren Missouri says it plans to increase testing of water near its nuclear power plant in Callaway County.

Our neighbors in St. Louis and Kansas City are two of 25 cities in the U.S. to get a perfect score on the 2013 Municipal Equality Index, or MEI. Columbia and Jefferson City fell further down the list. The MEI is conducted by a national organization working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. The study looks at equality issues including nondiscrimination policies in cities and states.

Amy Mayer / 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.

Thanks to tight competition, hog farmers all over the country are feeling a push to expand or get out of the business. That means indoor confined animal feeding operations – or CAFOs – are growing even in the most environmentally sensitive areas.

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.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This spring and summer, U.S. Geological Survey scientists waded into 100 Midwest streams to test for hundreds of chemicals used in farming, including nutrients, pesticides like atrazine and glyphosate, and livestock hormones. The results from the study are trickling in. But preliminary findings indicate that from May through early July, 21 percent of the region’s streams contained very high levels of nitrogen in the form of nitrates.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

It doesn’t come as a major surprise that agricultural runoff is doing more harm than good to the environment. Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Storms move pesticides, nutrients and sediment from farmers’ fields to nearby waterways. These will ultimately end up in the Gulf of Mexico where they can threaten aquatic life.

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:

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.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Gov. Jay Nixon says Missouri officials have approved more than 3,700 applications totaling $18.7 million to help drought-stricken farmers and ranchers get more water.

The emergency program provides for the state to pay 90 percent of the cost of drilling or deepening a well or expanding an irrigation system. The state's match is capped at $20,000 per project.

Nixon announced the program in late June. Monday was the deadline for farmers and livestock producers to apply.

drought farm field soybeans
Camille Phillips / Harvest Public Media

As cattle were auctioned off at the Joplin Regional Stockyards, Governor Nixon met over coffee Monday at the stockyard’s café with local ranchers and farmers.  He listened to their stories about how the emergency water cost-share program has helped them and gave them an update on the program. 

The City of Auxvasse is asking residents to approve a 5-million dollar bond issue to help fund projects related to the city’s water and sewer systems.

Bill Bumgarner / flikr

Boone County and the City of Columbia are using a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study storm-water runoff into Bear Creek, north of I-70. A task force will focus on reducing pollutants, which flow directly into the creek, untreated.