Grant Gerlock

Harvest Public Media's reporter at NET News, where he started as Morning Edition host in 2008. He joined Harvest Public Media in July 2012. Grant has visited coal plants, dairy farms, horse tracks and hospitals to cover a variety of stories. Before going to Nebraska, Grant studied mass communication as a grad student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed his undergrad at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor, but has taken up city life in Lincoln, Neb.

Vertical integration
8:00 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Hog farmers split on packer-owned pigs

Jim Knopik used to raise 500 hogs each year in a confinement building on his farm in Fullerton, Neb., but now his family only raises 50 in an open air pen. He downsized as contracting and consolidation became larger parts of the pork industry.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Nebraska hog farmers aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a proposal that would allow meatpacking companies more control over the state’s hog industry. And farmers all over the country are watching.

Currently, a 1998 state law bans meatpacking companies from owning and raising the hogs they process. But lawmakers have proposed an end to the ban, which would allow for more vertical integration of the hog industry.

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Census of Ag findings
8:00 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

Lack of land thwarts aspiring young farmers

Eric Brockmann and his family moved back to his hometown of West Point, Neb. to pursue his passion for farming.
Credit 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.

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Productivity vs. privacy
7:42 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Farmers worry about sharing Big Data

This laptop is an essential tool on Dave Beck’s farm. He uses it to design maps to apply different doses of seed, water, and fertilizer on his fields.
Credit 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.

Precision agriculture started with satellite-guided tractors and maps recording pinpoint levels of grain yields during harvest. But farmers like Dave Beck are taking the next step.

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Harvest Public Media story
5:36 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

USDA one step closer to approving new Roundup resistant crops

Credit Monsanto.com

New herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans are a step closer to reaching farm fields in the U.S. They would help farmers control weeds that are no longer killed by the popular herbicide, Roundup.

Roundup resistant crops dominate corn, soybean and cotton production in the U.S. But the list of weeds that have evolved to withstand Roundup is growing, and as a result, farmers are using more chemicals to keep up.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:00 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Beef herd poised for growth … and cheaper steak eventually

Even if the beef herd begins expanding again in 2014 it could take two years for the effects to show up in consumer prices.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

For the first time in nearly 10 years, the nation’s beef herd may be poised for growth, which could mean relief from rising meat prices. But with the fewest cattle in the beef supply since the 1960s, slow growth won’t cut prices anytime soon.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:00 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

RNAi corn entering the rootworm chase

Southern Corn Rootworm also called spotted cucumber beetle
pioneer.com

With rootworms building resistance to genetically modified corn that makes its own pesticide, seed companies are working on new crops that target the insects’ genes. But some worry about unintended consequences when the technology moves from the lab to the field.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:00 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Pheasants losing habitat to farmland

Farm-raised pheasants like this one, wearing blinders so it doesn't fight other birds, are being transported to areas that used to be known for pheasant hunting in order to prop up declining population.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As farmers across the Midwest have simplified the landscape and plowed up grassland to grow more corn and soybeans, habitat for pheasants, quail and other grassland birds has become increasingly scarce and their numbers are falling.

In Nebraska, wild pheasant concentrations have fallen 86 percent since their peak in the 1960s. The pheasant harvest during hunting season in Iowa is off 63 percent from the highs reached in the 1970s. In areas that used to be overrun, you’ll struggle to find a pheasant now.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:17 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

'Degeneration of the family farm' in photos

Courtesy Randy Waln

Rural roadsides are littered with neglected homesteads, long-ago abandoned. I see them all the time driving across Nebraska. Fallen farmhouses. Blighted barns. Overgrown fencerows. They even have a fanclub on Facebook.

For Randy Waln, a graphic design professor at Peru State University in Peru, Neb., there’s something about a rusted-out truck or weed-covered roadway that stokes the imagination.

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The Salt
5:34 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Farm Families Pick Massive Corn Harvest As Prices Shrink

Curt Friesen is a fourth-generation farmer in central Nebraska.
Grant Gerlock for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 9:39 am

Corn prices are down and the farm bill is stalled in Congress. So there's a lot of uncertainly in the air as harvest season gets into full swing across the Midwest. But this is a time of year when farm families like the Friesens in Henderson, Neb., come together to focus on the big task at hand: the corn harvest.

Everyone in the family has a job to do.

"Like my dad — he drives auger wagon," Curt Friesen says. "He drives auger wagon only. That's all he's done since 1976, I think. ... My wife, Nancy, she drives the combine; that's her job."

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Around the Nation
11:50 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Harvest Brings Farm Families Together, Redefines Commitment

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 12:36 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, here's a reality about farming. From the earliest days of this country, it's been an uncertain business, and for many decades, national policies have been designed to smooth out that risk. But, of course, the risk never entirely goes away. You can never control the rain, for example, and lately the uncertainty has been growing. Corn prices are down. The farm bill is stalled in Congress and there's a sense that good times may be fading.

From Nebraska, Grant Gerlock of NET News brings us his report.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:12 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Drought raises stakes on Republican River

The Republican River in Hitchcock County completely dry on July 25th, 2005.
Credit Melissa Widhalm, NDMC

There’s a border war going in the Midwest and it’s over water. Kansas and Nebraska have been battling for years over the water in the Republican River, which runs from Colorado to Kansas, through Nebraska.

Farmers in all three states depend on the Republican River to irrigate their fields and with agriculture such a prominent industry in the Midwest, the water battle amounts to a big deal. Kansas and Nebraska’s current dispute will eventually head to the U.S. Supreme Court. And with many farmers dealing with drought and planning for water restrictions, the battle is heating up.

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