Harvest Public Media

Harvest Public Media provides rich multimedia reports on all aspects of agriculture. Check below to read, view and listen online to the latest stories. Tune in to Morning Edition and All Things Considered to hear broadcasts of select stories.  

Harvest Public Media is a collaboration of public media stations across the Midwest. Partners are: High Plains Public RadioKansas Public RadioKCUR in Kansas City; Iowa Public Radio; Nebraska Educational Telecommunications; KBIA in Columbia, Mo.; WUIS in Springfield, Ill.; KUNC in Greeley, Colo.; and Tri-States Public Radio in Macomb, Ill.

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My Farm Roots
8:01 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

My Farm Roots: Touch the ground

Though he grew up without designs on farm life, Elisha Pullen has embraced rural living on his farm near Bell City, Mo.
Credit Jacob McCleland for Harvest Public Media

Listen to Jeremy's story.

As a young man, Elisha Pullen never imagined he would spend his days on the farm.

Growing up near rural Bell City in southeastern Missouri’s “Bootheel” region, Pullen longed to leave the farm and get an education.

“I grew up in the day and time when we had to do a lot of chopping and stuff like that. Hard labor,” Pullen said. “I’m going to college, I’m getting my degree and I’m going to work in the air conditioning.”

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Farm Bill & Lobbying
8:01 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Out of public eye, a bitter Farm Bill fight

K Street in Washington D.C. has long been known as the home to powerful lobbyists. Hundreds of companies and groups lobbied to influence the 2014 Farm Bill.
Credit Creative Commons

Listen to Jeremy's story.

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs, lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

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Farm Bill
8:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Lobbyists of all kinds flock to Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (in green), watches as President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Feb. 7, 2014.
Credit David Kosling/USDA

Listen to Peggy's story.

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

While Stabenow, the Michigan Democrat who leads the Senate Agriculture Committee, was referring to what proponents heralded as “reform” of some programs, her remarks were accurate on another score. The massive Farm Bill, which will spend $956 billion and set U.S. food policy for the next decade, is no longer the purview solely of agricultural interests.

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Agritourism
8:01 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

States working out kinks to keep ag tourism growing

Carol Zadrozny, owner of Z's Orchard in Palisade, Colo., has had trouble securing insurance coverage for her agritourism attractions.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Luke's story.

Colorado already draws thousands of visitors each year for skiing, hiking, beer drinking and, most recently, marijuana sampling. In 2012, those visitors spent more than $16 billion in the state. Tourism officials want more and they’re looking to do it by bringing well-educated “traveling foodies” to the state.

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Rodeo Tradition
8:01 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Mutton Busting A Rodeo Tradition For Rough And Tumble Kids

Two cowboys lift a mutton busting participant onto a wooly sheep at the Greeley (Colo.) Stampede rodeo.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Luke's story.

A furry beast, a brave rider and a roaring crowd make up the list of ingredients for the Western rodeo tradition known as “mutton busting.” Think of it as bull-riding, but for 6-year-olds, and the furry beast is actually a wooly sheep.

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HPPR Environment
8:01 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

EPA promotes water rule to farmers

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks to reporters at Heffernan Farm in Rocheport, Mo., July 9, 2014.
Credit Kris Husted/Harvest Public Media

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is touring farm country, trying to assure farmers that the agency isn’t asking for more authority over farmers and ranchers’ lands.

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Link to export markets
8:01 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

100 years on, Panama Canal still vital to farm economy

A loaded container ship passes through the Miaflores Locks on the Panama Canal in 2006.
Jean-Pierre Martineau/Flickr

When it opened in 1914, the Panama Canal introduced the harvest from Midwest farms to the world and helped link U.S. farmers to the global economy. Nearly a century-old, the canal today remains an important connector of global trade, from the U.S. heartland to Asia.

“Obviously it’s one of our major achievements,” said Bill Angrick, a former state Ombudsman of Iowa who was born in the Canal Zone and has studied the engineering marvel. “It’s like going to the moon. It’s something we did well and did right.”

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Concerns with "super bug" resistance
6:38 am
Mon July 7, 2014

AMA seeks ban on antibiotics for weight gain

Low doses of antibiotics are often delivered to livestock in their feed.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The largest association of U.S. physicians is calling for tighter rules on antibiotic use in livestock. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) says there should be an outright federal ban on using antibiotics to plump up farm animals. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily phase out the use of antimicrobial drugs that promote growth in livestock.

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Farming & Mental Health
12:20 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Report: Farmer Suicide Rate Higher Than All Other Workers

A new study shows that agricultural workers have unusually high suicide rates compared to other workers.
Credit Harvest Public Media

U.S. farmers are more than three times more likely to commit suicide than other workers, a new study has found.

University of Iowa researcher Wendy Ringgenberg compiled a study based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration farm death statistics from 1992 to 2010. In a recent interview with Iowa Public Radio, Ringgenberg said suicide rates have likely been underestimated and underreported.

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Selling the "Farm Experience"
8:01 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Agritourism a growing opportunity on the farm

Blake Bohlender attended a three-day camp at Laughing Buck Farm near Fort Collins, Colo.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Farms aren’t just for food any more. With the local food movement growing, more savvy farmers are putting a price tag on more than those organic tomatoes. They are instead marketing and selling the “farm experience” in the form of agritourism attractions.

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Cattle
8:01 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Cattle move north for water

After years of drought, the central and northern Plains have seen a rise in cattle feedlots.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. cattle herd has changed dramatically over the last four years, largely thanks to drought.

The supply of beef has been in free-fall. Perhaps you’ve noticed sky-high prices for hamburger and steak.

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Beef & Drought
8:01 pm
Sun June 15, 2014

Drought re-shaping the cattle map

Cattle come to Van Housen Feed Yard to be fattened up before heading to one of the nearby meat packing plants. Drought in beef states like Texas and Oklahoma has led to growth feedlots in Nebraska.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Grant's story.

Drought is re-shaping the beef map and raising the price of steak. Ranchers are moving herds from California to Colorado and from Texas to Nebraska seeking refuge from dry weather. And cattle producers in the Midwest are making the most of it.

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Hog Production
8:01 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Cargill to stop use of gestation crates for hogs

Barns like this one often house more than a thousand pregnant sows in gestation crates.
Credit Sarah McCammon/Harvest Public Media

Cargill, one of the country’s largest pork producers, announced Monday that it will stop using gestation crates, the controversial narrow cages meant to house and separate sows. Cargill is joining other major meatpackers, like competitors Tyson and Smithfield Foods, in planning to move away from hog crates.

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Wheat
8:01 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Drought hammers winter wheat across the Plains

Farmer Jim Haarberg of Imperial, Neb., compares the heads of wheat from two different stalks to demonstrate the stunting effects of drought.
Ariana Brocious/Harvest Public Media

Much of the Midwest and the Plains have been battling drought for years. And the current winter wheat crop looks like it will be one of the worst in recent memory, stressing farmers in the heart of the Wheat Belt – from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

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Food Industry
8:01 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Flour milling merger moves forward

Ardent Mills would control about a third of the American flour milling market.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Federal regulators Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for two of the country’s largest flour milling companies to merge.

Food giants ConAgra and Cargill said last year they wanted to put their flour mills under one roof in a new company called Ardent Mills. But a chorus of antitrust watchdogs said the deal would further consolidate an already concentrated industry.

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Biomass crops for fuel
5:08 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Miscanthus: A growing energy crop

Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa are all working on a project to plant, study and harvest miscanthus for biofuel.
Rick Fredericksen/Harvest Public Media

Miscanthus, a relative of sugar cane that looks like bamboo, could be the Midwest’s next energy crop. But in a region dominated by corn and soybeans, it has yet to fully catch on, even as advocates tout its advantages.

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California cattle on sale
8:01 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Drought still taking toll on ranchers, beef prices

Drought has many California ranchers culling their herds and ranchers in other western states are taking advantage.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

California ranchers, despite near-record beef prices, are shrinking their cattle herds in response to one of the most severe droughts the state has ever faced, and many Western ranchers are taking advantage.

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Legal for 16 years
9:06 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Canada feeding the American appetite for hemp

Hemp seed products are now widely available in leading grocery and warehouse food stores thanks to vertically integrated producers such as Manitoba Harvest that handles the product from plants in the field to ready-to-eat products on the store shelf.
Quentin Hope / HPPR

The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.

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Still a murky field
8:01 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Hemp growing returns after 44 year ban

At Centennial Seeds in Lafayette, Colo., Ben Holmes is testing hemp varieties. Holmes made his name distributing and breeding strains of medical and recreational marijuana, but recently has become a prominent figure in Colorado’s fledgling hemp industry.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A handful of farmers are set to plant the country’s first hemp crop in decades, despite federal regulations that tightly restrict the plant’s cultivation.

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Controlled substance or cash crop?
7:23 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

A hemp growing “revolution” coming to agriculture?

Front cover of Doug Fine's recently released book predicting an agricultural revolution from hemp growing.
Credit http://dougfine.com/books/hemp-bound/

Hear Luke's interview with author Doug Fine

The farm bill passed earlier this year is big news for advocates of hemp. New rules differentiate industrial hemp from its cousin, marijuana, and pave the way for research on the plant.  Hemp is still considered a controlled substance by federal regulators. But some states are giving farmers the chance to experiment.

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Endangered species protection
8:00 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

Feathers ruffled by Fed plan to save prairie chicken

The population of the lesser prairie chicken is plummeting. According to some estimates, it was cut in half in 2012.
Credit J.N. Stuart/Flickr Commons

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

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Rates far higher
8:00 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Farming, rural living and suicide

A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that men living in rural counties were much more likely to kill themselves than urban men
Credit Stephen D/Flickr Commons

A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that men living in rural counties were much more likely to kill themselves than urban men. (Stephen D/Flickr)

An alarming number of farmers in the U.S. take their own lives, according to the magazine Newsweek. And while we don’t have great statistics, some of the best numbers available suggest men on the farm today kill themselves nearly twice as often as other men in the general population.

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Foot and mouth fears
8:00 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Ranchers Wringing Hands Over Possible Brazilian Beef Imports

Gyr cattle in Brazil
Credit Wikipedia

Hear the audio version on Luke's story

Sharon Harvat drives a blue pick-up truck through a field of several hundred pregnant heifers on her property outside Scottsbluff in western Nebraska and notes, “On a warm day they’ll lay out flat like that...”.

Harvat and her husband John run their cattle here in the Nebraska panhandle during the winter and take them back to the mountains in northern Colorado when the calves are born. Harvat says, when she heard about a proposal to open up beef trade with Brazil, she felt a pit in her stomach.  “On an operation like ours, where we travel a lot with our cattle, that would probably come to an abrupt halt if there was an outbreak.”

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HIghrise
8:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Vertical farming growing up

Large banks of fluorescent lamps provide the spectrum of light that keeps the floating beds of plants alive year-round in The Plant Chicago, a vertical farming facility.
Credit 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 in urban 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.

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Proposed Federal rule change
8:00 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

No more brewery leftovers for cattle?

A new federal food safety rule would classify breweries as animal food manufacturers because many breweries sell or donate leftover grains to ranchers.
Credit Flickr Commons / Niels Linneberg

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.

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Food Safety
8:01 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Unpacking lessons from Colorado's cantaloupe listeria scare

Cantaloupe farmers across the country took a hit after the 2011 outbreak, which caused melon consumption to drop.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Luke's report.

When Colorado cantaloupe laden with the deadly pathogen listeria killed more than 30 people in 2011, shockwaves rippled throughout the food industry. The outbreak made one thing clear: huge cracks exist in the systems meant to keep our food safe to eat. Denver Post reporters Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown set out to explore those conflicts within food safety in their new book Eating Dangerously.

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Agriculture
4:42 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Drones: Coming soon to a farm near you?

Agriculture consultant Chad Colby shows a room of Midwest farmers how GPS can control a high-definition camera attached to a UAV.
Credit Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media

Unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t just for spies or for the battlefield. Farmers all over the country think drones can give them a leg up, too.

Tech-savvy farmers have been waiting for years for the government to make up its mind about the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Right now, anyone flying a drone for business instead of as a hobby is actually breaking federal law. But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees U.S. airspace, says it plans to roll out rules for drones this year.

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Irrigation
2:00 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Recovering from flooding, Colorado farmers hope for enough water

Construction workers rebuild a section of Highland Ditch Company’s irrigation infrastructure that was washed out in flooding near Lyons, Colorado.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Luke's report.

When September’s flood waters came down from the Front Range foothills, they destroyed homes and wrecked office parks. The water ruined roads, bridges and highways. The floods destroyed farms and crops, and unleashed tremendous pressure on aging irrigation infrastructure, some of which dated back to the late 1800s.

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Pork Supply & Prices
8:01 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Bring home the bacon: Virus cutting pork supplies

Illinois hog farmer Phil Borgic says the PED virus killed many of his piglets. The virus is expected to cut pork supplies this year.
Credit Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media

Bacon-loving shoppers prepare yourselves: A virus that has devastated piglets for nearly a year is causing lower pork supplies and higher prices.

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Food Security
5:59 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Padlock the milk! FDA’s push to safeguard the food supply

Milk is an extremely popular item on the University of Missouri campus, says purchasing coordinator Sandy Perley. "Our entire campus in a year drinks about 96,000 gallons of milk. And by our best calculation, that’s about 326 gallons a day."
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Abbie's report.

Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid.

And there’s good reason for that.

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