Mose Buchele

Texas’s state nut is looking to make a comeback. Pecans were all the rage in the 60s, but then the almond took over. Since then, the US almond crop has grown 33-fold. But now, StateImpact Texas reports that things are looking up for the Lone Star staple. The USDA has allowed the pecan industry to start something called a “federal marketing order.” This will allow pecan producers to pool their money and market their product.

David Morris / Creative Commons

The Center for Rural Affairs has long heard complaints from small- and mid-sized farms that the federal crop insurance program unfairly benefits large corporate farms and causes land values to rise. So the Center decided to investigate. Their research determined that subsidized crop insurance indeed has an impact on land values.

Kansas Biologist Takes Issue with Textbook Ag Science

Nov 11, 2015
Professor John Richard Schrock

For decades Americans have been asking whether it’s better for the earth if humans are herbivores, carnivores or somewhere on the omnivore spectrum? Some textbooks purport to have the answers, claiming to show in graphs and clear language that “herbivore” is by far the best route for humans and the planet. The textbooks insist that any land used for crops will increase the world’s food supply. But biologist John Richard Schrock disagrees, reports Kansas Public Radio.

Colorado State University Photography

From Harvest Public Media:

Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture, food and natural resource sectors each year for the next five years, according to a report from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Jacob Byk / Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

The importance of farming and ranching to the state’s economy touches all Kansans – and, according to the latest Kansas Department of Agriculture figures – the world.

In its latest figures, the department states that agriculture’s annual output was about $62 billion in 2012 – the most recent figures available – accounting for 43 percent of the state’s total economy.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Bill would give Department of Agriculture oversight of ‘noxious weed’ designation.

The rows of grapevines at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery near Paola are withering, with dying leaves and shriveling fruit.

But that’s expected this time of year.

Sandra J. Milburn / Hutchinson News

Jamie and Tim Kaminkow of Moundridge, Kansas, have found a novel way to make their farm meaningful to the larger population this fall, reports The Washington Times. After planting 8,000 pumpkins this summer, the Kaminkows have invited children from nearby cities to their farm to learn about agriculture.

Jacob Byk / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

McPHERSON - Autumn arrives in Kansas this week, but for Monte Dossett, the annual fall harvest has been commencing for a few weeks.

Study: Crop Diversity Has Declined in US

Sep 24, 2015
US Census of Agriculture

A new study indicates that the diversity of crops grown by American farmers since 1978 has declined, reports The Rural Blog. The study was performed at the county level. It discovered that the lowest crop diversity was found in the upper Midwest states. States in the West and South fared better.

Areas with high crop diversity tend to be more resistant to disease, pest, and crop failure. But there is room for swift positive change. Unlike natural ecosystems, croplands are replanted yearly. Thus, they can recover from stagnation more quickly.

Monsanto Hopes to Purchase Pesticide Behemoth

Aug 5, 2015
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A possible deal was announced this week that could have a lasting impact on American farmers, reports Harvest Public Media. The monolithic agricultural company Monsanto has proposed a deal to purchase the world’s largest pesticide company, Syngenta. Monsanto has said that it aims to find new ways to combine chemicals and biotech crops. In an effort to expand, the company has been recently been buying up a lot of tech companies.

More rain and less warmth than normal is both a blessing and challenge to farmers. About 60 percent of corn is in the ground in the Texas Panhandle. Jourdan Bell is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist. He says he’s concerned about fungal disease. Some seed put in the ground hasn’t germinated, and in saturated conditions you can see degradation and possible infection. Bell also says if the corn’s not planted by early May, there can be some pretty hefty yield degradation. That’s led to farmers considering planting grain sorghum. The moisture’s has a mixed impact on wheat. Bell says there’s been a lot of hail damage and very heavy disease pressure, but he thinks farmers will see a considerable boost in yields.

Calvin Mattheis / The Hutchinson News

Kansas farmers are getting ready to bring in the wheat harvest, they are again being targeted to help make up Topeka’s budget woes reports Amy Bickel for Kansas Agland.

There’s a proposed $3 excise tax on all land- agricultural, residential, and commercial.  The bill is proposed by Sen Jeff Melcher- R-Leawood.

Technology Boom in Colorado

Mar 31, 2015
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media/KUNC

Colorado is leading the nation with innovation, in recent years Boulder and Denver have become as home to tech startup companies in an unlikely industry. Agriculture is where the money’s at in Colorado these days; growers are patenting new technology in irrigation, food science and plant genetics according to a report from NPR correspondent Luke Runyoon.

New Kansas ethanol plant turning crop residue into fuel

Mar 10, 2015
Bryan Thompson

Five months after its grand opening, a massive new-generation ethanol plant in the southwest corner of Kansas is undergoing final adjustments as it prepares to begin full-scale production. The plant, built by a Spanish company with financing from the U.S. Department of Energy, is designed to produce clean-burning fuel — not from corn, but from the bits and pieces of crops left in farmers’ fields after harvest.

Imagine eHarmony for agricultural employers and workers. That’s how western Kansas farmer Mark Pettijohn describes Nebraska-based Hansen-Agri-placement.

Agriculture seems to be under attack by the Kansas legislature reports Amy Bickel for Hutch News. Bickel says in the last two weeks two ag taxation bills could generate more than $900 million combined. That could mean a big difference in the budget gap. But, it would increase agriculture land values by an average of 473 percent.

On a breezy morning next to a cornfield in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors.

"This one just flies itself," he says. "It's fully autonomous."

Underhill is a drone technician with Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone startup that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he's training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.

Courtesy of wikipedia

Harvest Public Media was created four years ago to report on agriculture and food production in the geographic area where the majority of that takes place – the Midwest. This year, my third of counting the top ag stories of the year, I find that the issues taking center stage were set not here, but in the politics, policies and processes of Washington D.C., state legislatures or the ballot box.

There’s an ap for everything- even ag.  Think of this: without ever leaving the field, a farmer can pull out his smart phone and identify insects, crop diseases, or even assess the nutrient value of manure.  He can also calculate crop maturity, seed planting to attain the highest yield, and pesticide droplet size and potential pesticide drift.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

In a dimly-lit lab on the Des Moines, Iowa, public schools’ agricultural science campus, students in aprons, safety goggles and plastic gloves poke and probe chicken wings. About 15 girls and just one boy in this vet careers class are looking for ligaments, tendons, cartilage and other features of this animal part that teenagers more often experience cooked and covered in barbecue sauce.

A 17-year old senior, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail for the dissection, high-fives her lab partner when they identify the ligament and show it to their teacher. This young woman is a chapter officer in the Des Moines FFA group and recently got elected to a district-wide leadership position. She’s already earned a full scholarship to Iowa State University and aspires to be a large animal veterinarian with her own small cattle herd.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Bear Creek Dairy in Brooklyn, Iowa, is home to more than 1,100 cows, who provide about 100,000 pounds of milk each day. The 15-year-old farmer who works closely with the farm’s calves comes from a long line of dairymen – in Europe.

Five years ago, Teun Boelen’s parents sold their farm in the Netherlands and bought a dairy in southeast Iowa because, as his mother explains it, there was no room for their old farm to grow.  

Will Curran/Flickr

A federal district court has upheld a California law requiring eggs sold in the state to come from hens housed in more spacious cages.

Attorneys general of six states – Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Alabama – sued to challenge the constitutionality of a California law requiring that all eggs sold in California be raised under standards laid out for California egg producers in a 2008 state ballot measure.

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.

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.

Wheat futures are up on the Chicago Board of Trade, but this year's wheat crop is getting battered by the drought.

When you think about carbon footprint, does feeding the world cross your mind? It does for John Foley. He wrote about it recently in an article published by National Geographic. “When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner,” Foley wrote. “But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.” Foley outlined five steps to feed the world.

Filming is almost complete on a documentary that follows the ranching family of Jane and Bob Apple of Kenton, Oklahoma.

Panhandle farmers did well this year in the National Sorghum Producers competition reported Kevin Welch for the Amarillo Globe-News.

Oklahoma ranks number five in the nation when it comes to the number of cattle, but years of drought and high market prices are fueling a sell-off, and experts worry that the $4.5 billion dollar industry is in a downward spiral that will be difficult to recover from according to an article from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Jason Baker / Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo

While timely rains have the Texas wheat crop looking much better this year, however the drought and cold may have done some damage to winter crops reported AgriLife Today.