Staple Foods See a Drop in Price

Oct 9, 2015
Olle Svensson / Creative Commons

Staple foods have shown a decrease in price this year, reports The Rural Blog. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the total cost of 16 staple food items has dropped by 12 cents over the last year. Whole milk had the biggest drop, down 17 percent. Apples, bacon, cheddar cheese, flour, bagged salad, vegetable oil, Russet potatoes, white bread and chicken also declined in price.

Kansas Ag Network

The president of the Kansas Farm Bureau is concerned about a growing problem: lack of education. According to the Dodge City Daily Globe, Rich Felts believes education is one of the biggest issues facing Kansas farmers. "There is so much about agriculture that isn't being passed on or explained to children," Felts said on Tuesday. The farm bureau president is concerned about the disconnect between the older and younger generations.

Wall Street Investment in Land Concerns US Farmers

Sep 25, 2015
Des Moines Register

Wall Street investors have been buying up farmland across the US, leading some to worry that land prices are growing unustainable. According to The Rural Blog, many American farmers fear the prices are ballooning beyond the point where they can reasonably be expected to turn a profit.

A recent survey found farmland was the second most popular investment among 13 categories, behind only energy. Farmers worry that outside investors lack the close ties and direct knowledge necessary to preserve the land.

Farm Incomes Decline in 2015

Sep 9, 2015
Let Ideas Compete / Flickr Creative Commons

Net farm incomes in 2015 will be down 36 percent from last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s the sharpest drop since 1983, notes The Rural Blog.

Farm income hit a record high in 2013. But since then, it’s dropped by 53 percent. Livestock income is also expected to fall 10 percent from last year. The USDA "expects growers to accelerate sales of 2015 crops this year to help generate more cash."

When Farmers Vacation . . . They Visit Other Farms!

Aug 27, 2015
Thinkstock / DCProductions

When farmers take a vacation, where do they go?  With so much daily work that needs to be done, it can be hard to justify a holiday. So often, farmers find themselves visiting another farm! And what do they find? Other farmers are trying to do the same things they are, but under different circumstances—and they discover some interesting differences. As reported on, recently Illinois farmer Maria Cox made the trek to Lucas, Kansas.

For the past four summers, Doug Armknecht of Smith Center, Kansas has been working to capture his wife's family harvest in Osborne County. His breathtaking YouTube videos of the LaRosh family harvest have drawn increasingly large viewerships since 2012, now reaching 37,000 hits, reports Kansas AgLand.

Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of Seward County, Kansas, are learning to pick vegetables—and having a wonderful time doing it. The four-acre garden plot at Seward County Community College has become a place for the citizens of Liberal to gather and enjoy the summer weather. The garden, known as Prime Pickin’s, was cultivated as part of the college’s Sustainable Agriculture program.

Panhandle Corn Crops May Recover from Wet Conditions

Jun 23, 2015
killermart / Flickr Creative Commons

Many Texas and Oklahoma panhandle corn producers have had to delay planting due to wet conditions produced by record levels of rain in recent months.  The High Plains Journal reports that corn farmers are considering planting corn hybrids that mature earlier, or perhaps planting other crops such as grain sorghum.

If you see smoke on the horizon, it could be deliberate. Some farmers burn their fields to get rid of plants that are there, and help those that are coming up.

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.  

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a wet, grey day in Grinnell, Iowa, the rain beats a rhythm on the metal roof of a packing shed at Grinnell Heritage Farm. Crew member Whitney Brewer picks big bunches of kale out of a washing tank, lets them drip on a drying table and then packs them into cardboard boxes.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Late summer in the Midwest is tomato season. For tomato growers around that country, it’s time to pick their bounty and calculate their earnings.

While sun and rain might be free, tomato farmers have to carefully weigh everything else they put in to growing their crop. Research and the development of new tools – from novel seed varieties resistant to diseases to additional fertilizers – has changed the input costs for growers.

Courtesy Marji Guyler-Alaniz/FarmHer

In a living room converted to a theater for the evening, Ethan Peterson and Madeleine Russell portray the characters from Mary Swander’s play, “VANG.” In it, the actors share the emotional stories of four immigrant couples who farm in Iowa. Swander used transcriptions of conversations with Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese and Dutch farmers to create the play.

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.

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.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The blue corduroy jacket worn by high school students in FFA, formerly the Future Farmers of America, is an icon of rural life. To the average city dweller the jacket is a vestige of dwindling, isolated farm culture, as fewer and fewer young people grow up on farms. The numbers tell a different story however. In spite of that demographic shift, a record number of kids are donning blue jackets this year.

John Deere /

Buying a new farm tractor costs almost as much as a new home in a decent suburb.  

Shelling out $200,000 or more for shiny new John Deere, Case IH, New Holland or other name brand horsepower to work the fields of a 21st century Midwestern farm isn’t unusual, farmers and dealers say.

What seems more unusual, to newcomers to farm economics at least, is that those shiny new models aren’t the hottest selling big iron on many dealers’ lots.  That would be the used tractors that were traded in when the new models rolled off the dealers’ flatbed trucks.

End of Tax Break Could Affect Tractor Sales

Sep 23, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

On a hot August day in late August, Kevin Bien stands in the shade of a large gray piece of farm equipment.  The brand marketing manager for Gleaner Combines gives his best spiel to a group of farmers attending the Farm progress Show  in Decatur, Ill.   Torque, efficiency, and new technology are among his key points for the prospective buyers of the large machines that can run anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.    

And farmers are buying. Frequently.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

One sign that you have strong farm roots is when your rural road is named for your family.

I met Steve Quandt on Quandt Road, north of Grand Island, Neb., on the farm that used to belong to his grandfather. It’s the place he remembers spending days as a kid, from morning to night, helping milk cows, work the fields and repair machinery.

He followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, building his own farming operation. But that path was suddenly interrupted nearly six years ago.

Both ways for Buffet: GMO and Organic

Aug 21, 2013
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.

Doing More With Less Water

Aug 20, 2013
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

Climate models and population growth paint a pretty bleak picture for water availability a few decades from now. If farmers want to stay in business, they have to figure out how to do more with less. Enter: super efficient irrigation systems.

Howard Buffett: Farmer of the world

Aug 16, 2013
Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Five years ago, Howard G. Buffett was at a meeting of an international food aid agency when he was told that feeding the millions of starving people in Africa was simple.

Just give them better seeds, someone said.

That advice might work on some philanthropists. But Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, happens to be an Illinois farmer.

“This guy was explaining to me how to farm and he’d never been on a farm in his life,” he said. “So it really kind of irritated me. I came home and said, ‘OK, I’m going to have data to show these guys.’”

Estate taxes can complicate farm transitions

Jul 26, 2013
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.

Metal thefts plague farm country

Jul 21, 2013
Payne Roberts/Harvest Public Media

In the countryside, there are fewer people – and some prefer it that way, especially thieves. The National Insurance Crime Bureau says that metal thefts have increased by 36 percent since 2010 – and that leaves farm equipment and machinery as easy pickings.

Want to invest in farmland? Join the crowd

Jul 19, 2013
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

The new company Fquare is bringing crowd-sourcing to the increasingly lucrative market of investing in farmland.

Video Documentary: Aging of the American Farmer

Jul 14, 2013
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. 

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.

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.