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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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Budget cuts and wider competition for USDA's 'rural' dollars

Eugene Jacquez’s family has grown beans and raised sheep at the base of the Culebra peaks in San Luis, Colo., for generations. He belongs to the Rio Culebra Cooperative and says without federal funding, many of his neighbors will be reluctant to sell to the co-op.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

    As lawmakers debate the Farm Bill in Washington, millions of dollars are at stake for small businesses across the country. Rural development grants go out to everything from home loans to water projects to small co-ops.

With budget cuts likely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting how these funds are used, and proposing changes to the word “rural.” But there’s concern that a tighter belt at the federal level means farmers and ranchers in small towns will be left behind.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Lifeblood for rural communities: federal funds

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus, left, checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media.

As Congress fiddles with major farm legislation, there’s a portion of it that gets very little attention. Some say it is a difference-maker for job creation in small rural communities and provides a boost those towns need. Harvest Public Media’s Bill Wheelhouse reports.

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days. 

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

States ponder the "right to farm"

Some farmers are feeling a bit defensive – or put-upon -- these days. Take the recent experiences of Bob Young, for instance.  The 69 year old raises 36-hundred hogs on the land where he grew up near Rochester in central Illinois.  When he was getting ready to build a hog confinement facility seven years ago some area residents, concerned about the potential smell of the place, filed suit.  A court order stopped construction for 18 months.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

At the farmers market... with food stamps

April Segura, of Lincoln, Neb., uses her SNAP benefits to shop at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market with her sons Jalen, 5, and Jeriel, 1.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

April Segura is a regular at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, Neb. On a warm, May afternoon, the single, stay-at-home mother of three greeted friends and acquaintances while strolling past tables of lettuce and herbs. She hoped to find more asparagus for sale.

“I love asparagus season and it’s probably about to be over,” said Segura, holding two grocery bags with one arm and her one-year-old son, Jeriel, with the other.

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HPPR Environment
3:45 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Who's on the hook for nearly $17 billion paid to farmers?

The extent and degree of 2012 crop losses is clear in this map of crop insurance policy payouts.
Credit USDA Risk Management Agency

Nearly $17 billion has been paid out to farmers in crop insurance indemnities to cover the losses from the catastrophic drought of 2012, the government reported this week.

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Harvest Public Media story
4:12 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

A new frontier in genetically engineered food

Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”

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Harvest Public Media story
3:14 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Taxing complications for farmers and an April 15 deadline

This tax season is an unusual one for farmers.

“Farmers didn’t necessarily have a great crop to harvest, but they harvested a huge amount of income last year. It was one of the biggest years, inflation-adjusted, since going back to the 1970s,” said Roger McEowen, who runs the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.

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Oklahoma Panhandle
11:32 am
Sun March 24, 2013

What’s Next for ‘Lake’ Optima, the Reservoir That Never Filled?

Weston Storer, biologist at Beaver River, Optima, and Rita Blanca Wildlife Management Areas points toward Optima Dam and what's left of the reservoir.
Credit LOGAN LAYDEN / STATEIMPACT OKLAHOMA

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built more lakes in Oklahoma than any other state. Some of those reservoirs struggle to fill, especially during drought, or end up holding more silt than water. But none have been a bigger failure than Lake Optima.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:15 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Generic seeds could have a short lifespan

Potted soybean plants line the tables in a research greenhouse at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Researchers are trying to understand the ways different genes control plant growth.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The patent rights on the first genetically modified seeds expire next year, but it’s not clear how the introduction of “generic” seeds fits into the science and business of GM crops.

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Harvest Public Media story
6:26 am
Mon February 25, 2013

The seeds of genetic modification

The vast majority of the corn and soybeans in United States grow from seeds that have been genetically modified. The technology is barely 30 years old and the controversy surrounding it somewhat younger. But how did it even become possible?

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Harvest Public Media story
3:56 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Technology chips away at influence of prominent ag towns

Kansas City Board of Trade

 At the crossroads of industry, railroads and farm country Kansas City has long been a capital of the plains. In recent years, though, Kansas City and other agriculture hubs have seen technology chip away at their importance.

Since 1856, for instance, wheat has been traded on the floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade. In the old days, there would be a swarm of traders around the pits, shouting orders, making those crazy hand signals you've seen in the movies, but that will end later this summer.

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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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Harvest Public Media story
1:02 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Grover Norquist endorses Kansas immigration plan

Grover Norquist

An unlikely coalition of business and social interests tried last year to get the legislature to establish a state program that would help ag businesses hire undocumented workers and let them legally stay in the state. Conservative lightning rod Grover Norquist – more known for his anti-tax crusades than his immigration beliefs – endorsed the plan during a speech in Topeka this week. He likened current U-S immigration law to the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit enacted in the 70s. Norquist says most people broke that law, too.

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Harvest Public Media story
5:38 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Farmers frustrated by farm bill extension

Grant Wood's American Gothic, 1930, Oil on Beaverboard

Farmers and ranchers across the country expected to start the new year with a new farm bill, the all-important legislation setting agricultural policy for the next five years.

As House and Senate negotiators worked feverishly at the turn of the year to come to a fiscal cliff deal, word leaked that the Agriculture Committees had finally come to an agreement on a long-awaited new farm bill. But the final fiscal cliff deal ditched new legislation and merely extended parts of the bill that expired in October.

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Harvest Public Media story
4:37 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Limited progress on animal lab site at KSU

The site of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., was a big hole in the ground in spring 2012. Not much had changed by the end of the year.
Credit Laura Ziegler for Harvest Public Media

  

In Manhattan, Kan., the site of National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is still just a huge hole in the ground nearly a year after the initial ground-breaking.

But there has been some progress. In December, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which will operate the huge animal disease lab if it is ever completed, got title to the land when the city of Manhattan officially deeded over the 47-acre site. It’s a move that supporters hope will breathe new life into the beleaguered lab.

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Harvest Public Media feature story
11:40 am
Tue September 25, 2012

My Farm Roots: Entrusted with a legacy

Nathan Dorn stands in front of the feedlot on his family’s farm in Adams, Neb.
Camille Phillips/Harvest Public Media

Down a stretch of rural highway and country roads lined with fields, about an hour south of Lincoln, Neb., lies the Dorn family farm. That’s where Nathan Dorn grew up, where his grandfather farmed before him and where his father, uncles and cousin now farm beside him.

Dorn’s strong ties to the land made the decision to continue the family tradition of farming an easy one. But it also leaves him feeling misunderstood by the average American.

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Harvest Public Media feature story
1:26 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

My Farm Roots: From pastime to passion

Aaron Troester farms about 5,000 irrigated acres in north-central Nebraska.
Hilary Stohs-Krause for Harvest Public Media

Aaron Troester’s life both did, and didn’t, turn out exactly the way he planned.

The 29-year-old farmer in the north-central Nebraska town of O’Neill was pouring honey into jars from bees he keeps when I met him. I soon learned he had a chemistry degree and had planned to go to medical school, but the lure of the land he farms with his father changed his mind.

“All through grade school, I knew I wanted to farm,” Troester said. That changed in college, but a year spent back on the farm while waitlisted for med school slowly evolved from passing the time into passion.

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Harvest Public Media feature story
9:50 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

My Farm Roots: Grateful to be home

Rose Alderson and her husband Loren have farmed outside of Nickerson, Kan., for decades.
Frank Morris/ Harvest Public Media

Rose Alderson is a bright-eyed, energetic grandmother who loves her home a few miles outside of Nickerson, Kan. It’s the home her father was raised in and where she raised her kids, but the house is not the most important part of the Alderson place.  

Alderson loves the barn and the silo. Neither building plays much of a role on the farm anymore, but to Rose, they are the soul of the place.  

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Harvest Public Media Story
7:30 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Markets woo wary farmers

Daryl Larson, a farmer from McPherson, Kan., wants to be able to trust the markets, but is wary.
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Farmers are the bedrock of the agricultural commodities markets – after all, they make the products that are traded there.

But after the October bankruptcy of commodity trading firm MF Global and more recent allegations of shady dealings at Iowa futures firm Peregrine Financial, the bedrock is shaking.

That’s why CME Group, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is working hard to regain farmers’ trust.

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