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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.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Move over turkey. Step aside stuffing. Green Bean Casserole, an iconic Thanksgiving dish, turns 60 years old this year and it’s as popular as ever. Love it or loathe it, the classic Midwestern casserole has come to mean more than just a mashup of processed food sitting next to the mashed potatoes. “Green Bean casserole in the Midwest seems to be in many contexts an unintentional performance of identity, but at other times a very purposeful expression of local identity,” said Lucy Long, a...

Antler rattling on the High Plains

Nov 19, 2016
Luke Clayton

This week, Luke talks about his success in attracting whitetail bucks by rattling antlers and, discusses a "new" set of rattling tools that bring in bucks from great distances. As Rattling Forks owner Steven Ray says, "If they can't hear it, they won't come!"

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

After dueling reviews of research studies, scientific panels from the U.S. government and the World Health Organization are having a hard time agreeing whether glyphosate, the most common weed killer in the United States, can cause cancer. Known by the brand name RoundUp, glyphosate is sprayed on farm fields and lawns all across the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the safety of glyphosate for the first time since 1993. As part of its scheduled review,...

Has either of the two presidential candidates said anything about the Ogallala Aquifer? As part of its ongoing ag reporting, Harvest Public Media reporters examine questions from readers and this is one of them. We weren’t able to find any cases where the candidates specifically address the Ogallala Aquifer, but each has each spoken to sustainable water use - mostly with an eye to the West. (Neither the Clinton nor the Trump campaigns responded to a request for comment.) Democratic nominee...

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : A successful program in Michigan that helps hungry families buy more healthy food is expanding across the country. This month, Iowa joins more than a dozen other states in offering Double Up Food Bucks . Although the programs vary a bit from state to state, the basic idea is the same: SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) dollars are matched (usually up to a certain cap), giving the shopper more money to spend at farmers markets or other places where...

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska. He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call “the chain” – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people. “You’ve been working there for three hours, four hours, and you’re working so fast and you see the pigs going faster, faster,” he says. “There are some supervisors, you stop the chain...

Megg / Flickr Creative Commons

From Harvest Public Media :

Expansion in the country’s beef cattle herd is bringing cheaper meat prices to the grocery store just in time for the summer grilling season, but those reduced prices might get some scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data show the price of ground beef is down about 30 cents per pound compared to last year.

Cheaper feed, falling land prices and increased consumer demand for meat over the past three years...

Sandy and Chuck Harris / Flickr Creative Commons

From Harvest Public Media : Monarch butterflies are disappearing. Scientists agree that in the last 20 years, populations of the black and orange insect have been in precipitous decline. But there's much less certainty on what’s causing them to vanish. As each new scientific paper on monarch decline is published, the image becomes slightly less opaque. So far, potential culprits include disease, climate change, drought, deforestation, and nectar plants. Blame has been cast on everyone from...

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : A group of Nebraska farmers is suing the giant seed and chemical company, Monsanto, in federal court saying the company’s top-selling herbicide gave them cancer. Farmers Larry Domina, Robert Dickey, and Royce Janzen, along with farm agronomist Frank Pollard, have each been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. They were exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller in their work on the farm. They allege that Roundup caused their illness and that...

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The country’s top agriculture official, Tom Vilsack, is declining to comment on some of the largest mergers the farm economy has ever seen. Possible deals between Germany-based Bayer and American seed giant Monsanto, Switzerland-based Syngenta and ChemChina, a state-owned Chinese chemical company, and between American chemical companies Dow and DuPont could further consolidate an already consolidated market [.pdf] . That means farmers could face fewer choices when...

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : We all learned it as kids: Old MacDonald has a farm and on that farm he has a cow that says “moo.” But why? Why do cows moo?

Whenever I’m out reporting in the field I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle – they can almost understand them. But researchers today are trying to figure out exactly what cows are saying.

I drove out to the beef research farm at the University of Missouri Columbia to meet cattle...

Ariana Brocious / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : Every spring farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jumpstart the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires, which may help protect people and the environment. On a warm spring morning, a big burn crew dressed in yellow and green flame-resistant clothing gets ready to set 26 acres of tallgrass prairie on fire at Homestead National Monument of America...

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria. School lunch was transformed by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. The law, passed in 2010, forces schools to switch to whole grains, cut calories, limit fat and sugar, start reducing sodium,...

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The population of Northern Colorado is booming. People are flocking to the area and population numbers are on the rise. The same thing is happening with dairy cows. Weld and Larimer counties already sport high numbers of beef and dairy cattle, buttressed by the region’s feeding operations. But an expansion of a cheese factory owned by dairy giant Leprino Foods will require even more cows to churn out the milk needed to produce bricks of mozzarella cheese and whey...

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : Near Alexander, Iowa, on a cloudy spring Tuesday, Josh Nelson watches a bright red Case IH Magnum tractor pull a 24-row planter and crest a small hill, dropping corn seed at careful intervals. Nelson says his family farm dodged a weather bullet this week, but it’s just one of many hurdles this season promises. Planting is underway across the Midwest. As farmers like Nelson put seeds in the ground, they’re also putting their confidence in another crop season and the...

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : Midwest farmers are expected to plant a huge corn crop this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts farmers will plant nearly 94 million acres of corn this season. That’s up 6 percent from last year’s planted acreage and would be the third-highest planted acreage in the U.S. since the 1940s. Prices for staples like corn and soybeans have been sliding in recent years thanks, in part, to oversupply. Another gigantic harvest of the Midwest’s most important...

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media: Some of the most important medicines doctors prescribe to fight infections are losing effectiveness and the Obama Administration is calling on farmers to help turn the tide against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A recent report by the president’s advisors on antibiotic resistance charts some progress but also left some critics urging for more immediate action. Antibiotics are used in many livestock feeding operations to treat sick animals. But some farmers also put...

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : Cannabis is beginning to look a lot like a commodity crop. After spending decades in darkened basements and secreted away on small parcels of land, marijuana growers are commercializing once-illegal plant varieties: industrial hemp, recreational marijuana and medical cannabis. As more states legalize the growth of certain types of cannabis, those in the industry are turning to traditional farmers for help in an effort to transform the plant from black market...

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The Western Farm Show in Kansas City, Mo.., is a long way from Silicon Valley. But here in a huge arena, set in what used to be the Kansas City Stockyards, the high-tech future of agriculture is for sale. Casey Adams and Scott Jackman, co-owners of Fly Ag Tech , have their large yellow and white drone sitting at center stage in their booth at this huge annual trade show. “It’s got a GPS, so it knows where it’s at, underneath here you’ll see an autopilot, its an...

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The federal government has wiped off the books the controversial law that required grocery stores to label cuts of pork and beef with their country of origin. The rules around Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) require retailers to note where the animal that produced cuts of meat was born, raised and slaughtered. The World Trade Organization, however, said last year that the labels were an unfair trade barrier for meat producers in other countries. Congress repealed...

USDA / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : If you’re unfamiliar with the show “The Walking Dead,” zombies (called "walkers" in the show universe) have taken over the landscape. Our cast of gun-toting survivors have been left holed-up in a suburban compound surrounded by large walls. In a recent episode, two main characters venture outside the compound on a scavenging mission equipped with a map to nearby agricultural supply stores. Before they leave, a third character tells them to keep an eye out for...

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : There are mounting concerns about the direction of the farm economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farm income to fall for the third year in a row in 2016. At the same time, farmers are borrowing billions more from banks to get by. The change in farm fortunes follows a drop in prices for corn and soybeans, the top Midwest crops. Supply and demand are both working against the commodity markets. Farmers have raised an oversupply of grain, while at the...

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reversed course on its organic certification of industrial hemp operations throughout the country. A handful of hemp farms, including Colorado-based CBDRx, had secured or were in the process of securing, certifications from third-party auditors following a directive from the USDA's National Organic Program staff allowing hemp to be certified organic. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published new instructions...

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The number of farms and ranches in the U.S. is on the decline and the farms that remain are getting bigger, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. has lost nearly 120,000 farms since 2008, and 18,000 last year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average farm size in the U.S. increased 5 percent over those 7 years, to an average size of 441 acres in 2015. “This is a long-term trend in agriculture that the...

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The middle of winter is when the stream of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the Midwest begins to freeze up. Nicole Saville knows first-hand. Saville is the produce manager at Open Harvest, a grocery coop in Lincoln, Neb. The store promotes food grown by local farmers, but this time of year there just isn’t much available. “We can get kale and some culinary herbs this time of year,” Saville said. “Otherwise the only other local option is a soil mix in our...

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : America's dairy farms are doing more with less. There are fewer dairy cows today than just a few decades ago, but today’s cows are churning out more milk than ever. Part of the increase is due to genetics. Dairy cows have been bred to be larger, hungrier, and more productive. But that focus on genetics to produce more milk has some prominent livestock advocates ringing alarm bells. The Top 1 Percent When it comes to milk production, no other cow tops Gigi. “She’s a...

Oxfam America

From Harvest Public Media : In the first nine months of 2015, workers in meat-packing plants owned by Tyson Foods averaged at least one amputation a month. That report was gleaned from a Freedom of Information Act request by Celeste Monforton, a George Washington University occupational health professor. Monforton writes on her blog that she sought the data because of a new regulation that requires companies to report injuries to OSHA within 24 hours. She focused on one of the big meatpackers...

How Agriculture is Helping These At-Risk Teens

Feb 5, 2016
Boys Grow / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : A puppy races down the gravel driveway to greet Tyson Hicks-Garlington. The 17-year-old teen rubs its neck as he greets his mentor of several years, John Gordon, Jr. They walk past goats and chickens inside an enormous pen, and stop before lush fields, where Hicks-Garlington introduces himself for the interview with steady eye contact and a firm handshake. Gordon lets the young man take the lead. As the founder of Boys Grow , Gordon revels in seeing young men speak...

Prairie Plains Resource Institute

From Harvest Public Media : From the air, the Midwest looks like a patchwork of cropland and pastures. But before the land was turned over to plows and center pivots, most of it was a sea of grass. Native grasslands were first plowed by pioneers homesteading on the plains. More land was converted to crops as tractors and machinery arrived on the farm and conversion of land intensified. Loss of grassland has been a challenge for many of the region’s native residents. Birds, insects and other...

Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : Worried about the price of wheat on the global market, Midwest farmers are planting less wheat. Nationwide, farmers seeded about 5 million fewer acres in wheat this planting season than they did two years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Winter Wheat Seedings Report ( PDF ) issued Tuesday. Varieties of winter wheat, which is mostly grown in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Montana, make up the lion’s share of U.S. wheat...

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