agriculture

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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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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5:40 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Drought hammers the breadbasket

Lead in text: 
Wheat futures are up on the Chicago Board of Trade, but this year's wheat crop is getting battered by the drought.
WICHITA, Kan.-Agricultural economist Josh Roe walked into a dusty wheat field on this city's outskirts this week and spotted trouble. The ground was cracked, and the wheat plants were only half their normal size for this stage of the season.
5:26 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Exploring five steps to feed the world

Lead in text: 
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.
Step Three: Use Resources More Efficiently We already have ways to achieve high yields while also dramatically reducing the environmental impacts of conventional farming. The green revolution relied on the intensive-and unsustainable-use of water and fossil-fuel-based chemicals.
5:10 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Film documents OK Panhandle ranch life

Lead in text: 
Filming is almost complete on a documentary that follows the ranching family of Jane and Bob Apple of Kenton, Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Panhandle is one of the most remote areas of the Sooner State, but a documentary film in production may shed some light on issues residents are facing. "Lone Man's Land" follows a family as they struggle to keep the ranching life alive in the face of rising costs.
Agriculture
8:00 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Texas Farming Update: Panhandle Farmers do well in sorghum competition

Credit mississippi-crops.com

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

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Agriculture
8:00 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Expert Worries Current Conditions Will Destroy Oklahoma’s Cattle Market

Credit oklahomafarmreport.com

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.

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Texas Panhandle
8:00 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Drought and Extreme Cold May Have Damaged Winter Crops

Wheat plots, forefront, in the High Plains appear to have little to no damage from extreme cold temperatures, however oats, middle of picture, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research trials near Bushland show damage.
Credit 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.

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Harvest Public Media story
5:59 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Under the microscope: Microbes can help farmers

Researchers at chemical company BASF are working to harness bacteria and microbes for beneficial purposes.
Credit Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers and scientists have long understood that what lives beneath the soil affects how crops grow. Often, they work to fight plant diseases—warding off infectious viruses and damaging fungi, for example. But now some microbiologists are focused on how to harness the good things microbes can do, with the goal of increasing farmers’ yields and diminishing their dependence on chemical inputs.

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Beef prices
8:01 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

Higher beef prices good for producers, may be tough on consumers

These cattle on Jeff Longnecker's farm in Story County, Iowa, are part of a herd he's hoping to grow.
Credit Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Once again, the prognosticators are saying beef prices are on the rise. We’ve seen this before—last year, the drought and high feed prices were being blamed. This time, the supply is tight and with livestock farmers looking at lower costs of production, some may keep animals on the farm to help increase their herds, rather than sending them to market. Since consumer demand typically goes up at this time of year, Lee Schulz, a livestock economist at Iowa State University, said the combination will increase the price meatpackers pay to producers.

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Agriculture & Local Foods
5:46 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Interview with Joel Salatin: Local food evangelist

Joel Salatin on his farm in Virginia
Credit Creative Commons

Listen as Harvest Public Media's Luke Runyan speaks with Joe Salatin.

Joel Salatin is one of the rock stars of the local food movement. He’s written books, appeared in documentaries and scheduled speaking engagements nationwide. Among foodies, he’s a celebrity.

He’s also a vocal critic of industrialized agriculture. Salatin criticizes the use of pesticides, herbicides, genetic modification in crops, and hormones and antibiotics in livestock.

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Harvest Public Media story
5:46 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Science not likely to decide food issues

Panelists, including Frances Moore Lappe (second from left), speak to a symposium at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.
Credit Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Hot-button food issues of the day, such as the use of genetically modified organisms or the treatment of livestock, tend to pit large industries against smaller activist groups. Often, both sides will claim the science supports what they are saying. That can leave consumers, most of whom aren’t scientists, in a bit of a bind.

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Agriculture
12:08 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The 'Camel Of Crops'

A test field of sorghum outside Manhattan, Kan., planted by Kansas State University.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 4:07 pm

Much of the world is turning hotter and dryer these days, and it's opening new doors for a water-saving cereal that's been called "the camel of crops": sorghum. In an odd twist, this old-fashioned crop even seems to be catching on among consumers who are looking for "ancient grains" that have been relatively untouched by modern agriculture.

Sorghum isn't nearly as famous as the big three of global agriculture: corn, rice and wheat. But maybe it should be. It's a plant for tough times, and tough places.

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Influx of Ag and Wind Energy Workers
8:00 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Oklahoma Panhandle: Business is Booming, But There’s No Place to Live

Credit townmapsusa.com

From Guymon in the Oklahoma Panhandle to Ponca City in the north of the state, significant permanent population growth and workforce housing demands are exceeding the housing supply, said Dr. Kay Decker.  Decker is a professor of sociology, and chair of the Department of Social Sciences at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.

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Monsanto moves farming technology forward
8:00 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Big Ag and Big Data: A Match Made In Heaven?

Looking at data like historic rainfall and soil quality to help farmers predict crop yields can create what one Monsanto executive called “the next level of agriculture.”
Credit Matthew Staver / New York Times

Ag giant Monsanto recently purchased the Climate Corporation according to a recent blog in the New York Times

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Agriculture
8:00 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Southeastern Colorado Farmer Has First Hemp Harvest

Ryan Loflin stands in his hemp field
Credit Hemp Industries Association

The first known hemp harvest in more than fifty years began this month in southeastern Colorado according to Denver Westward Blogs.

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Drought drives payments
8:50 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

What was your county’s crop insurance payout in 2012?

Credit Quentin Hope

  At $200 per acre, Trego County, KS topped the list of High Plains counties in per acre crop insurance payments in 2012.  Other top counties were Wallace County, KS at $157 per acre and Rawlins County, KS at $127 per acre.  All three are in Northwest Kansas.  At the bottom is the list was Hemphill County, TX in the northeast corner of the Panhandle with just $1 per acre on only 13,400 planted acres.

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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
8:01 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

What $154 million in payouts means to a county

Tim Kelly says sales have been steady at his independent John Deere dealership in Pontiac, Ill. — despite the devastation of last year’s corn crop.
Credit Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Farmer Doug Wilson has been buying crop insurance since 1980. 

“You carry home insurance, hoping your house doesn’t burn down. We carry crop insurance, hoping our crops don’t burn down,” Wilson said on a sweltering day in mid-August as he walked among the healthy 8-foot corn stalks in one his fields in central Illinois. “But last year, they burned down — kind of literally.”

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Harvest Public Media story
8:00 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Both ways for Buffet: GMO and Organic

Howard Buffett stands in front of a lab being built on his research farm in southeastern Arizona
Credit Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

A Midwestern farmer with a well-known last name has set out to fight hunger on a global scale. Howard G. Buffett is the son of Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world. The younger Buffett believes that to help people, you must first make sure they can feed themselves. He has a 3,200-acre farm in Illinois and another in Arizona, where research is being done in hopes of learning how Africans can become better farmers.

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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
6:35 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Estate taxes can complicate farm transitions

Farmers have to negotiate complicated estate tax laws in order to keep family farms in the family.
Credit Kansas Poetry (Patrick) / Flickr

Welsh-born immigrant William R. Charles in 1868 fought an uphill battle with Indians and grasshoppers when he homesteaded 400 acres of well watered crop and timberland in Republic County, Kan., that his great-grandchildren farm today. The family’s first log cabin burned to the ground in December, 1869 and they dug through two feet of frozen dirt to find shelter.

Today, Charles’ grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their children are far flung from that homestead, Valley Point Farm, 240 miles northwest of Kansas City.

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Sun July 14, 2013

Video Documentary: Aging of the American Farmer

At age 84 Bob Hawthorn I still working on his family’s fourth generation farm dating back to the 1870s.
Credit Ray Meints for NET News

Farmers are getting older.  They’re working longer, staying on the land later and continuing to do what they’ve done for decades: heading out day after day after day to work their land.

In 1978, the average age of the American farmer was just over 50. In 2007, it was creeping toward 60, at just over 57-years-old. What does that mean for the agriculture industry? Harvest Public Media went to answer that question by focusing on this massive demographic shift that affects not just rural America but the power and potential of an entire industry. 

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Young dreams, huge obstacles

Eva Teague, 31, is trying to start her own pig farm but is having trouble breaking in to the business.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

While the farming community continues to age fewer young people are filling the ranks, prompting the question: Do young people even want to farm anymore?

The quick answer is yes, just not in the same numbers as they used to. And surveys indicate many of them don’t want to farm in conventional ways.

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Retiring to the farm anything but quiet

Jim Schulte and his wife, Rita, bought their 450-acre farm near Columbia, Mo., in 1991, but didn’t start farming full time until Jim finished working in the mortgage business.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma. 

Thomas retired two years ago after teaching exercise physiology for 35 years and he knew what he wanted to do next.

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Havest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Facing the family farm legacy

Father and son Jim and Tom Arganbright stand in a field that Tom planted with soybeans this spring. The older generation still owns the land, but Tom now rents it as part of his own farming operation.
Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Driving out of the western Iowa town of Panora, the winding roads offer broad vistas of rolling hills. Many of the mailboxes along Redwood Road show the name Arganbright. Jim Arganbright grew up in this area, one of 10 children. He and his wife, Beverly, have eight kids.

Though Jim Arganbright farmed here his whole life, three years ago at the age of 80 he started renting his cropland to his son Tom, the only one of his children who farms full-time. Now, all Jim Arganbright has to worry about is the livestock — and he doesn’t have too much of that.

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

How long can you farm?

A young Bob Hawthorn runs the harvester through a field of oats. Hawthorn studied engineering and began a career working in the aerospace industry before returning to the farm.
Bob Hawthorn

Working beyond retirement is a fairly common refrain these days. In 2012, 5 percent of the U.S. workforce was beyond retirement age. But farmers seem to work longer than most. In the last Agriculture Census 25 percent of all farm operators were over 65 years old.

Why do farmers keep working? For one thing, modern machinery makes it easier to work longer.

“It’s more you use your mind rather than your back, so you can go longer,” said Mike Duffy, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

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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
9:00 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Smithsonian plows into farming history

In the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History's staging area, curator Peter Liebhold shows off some of the artifacts he's been collecting from farms all over rural America for the museum's upcoming 'American Enterprise' exhibition.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. only get small glimpses of farming, such as a mural display of immigrant farmworkers planting crops in a 19th century California town. The museum once had an Agriculture Hall, but it was removed in 2006.

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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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