farming

Gobierno de Chile / Wikimedia Commons

Evidence is mounting that President Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is taking a heavy economic toll on rural America, reports POLITICO.

U.S. farmers and meat producers had been looking forward to seeing Asian markets opened up to their products. Instead, countries like Japan have taken their business elsewhere, seeking to purchase meats, grains and fruits from countries with lower tariffs.

A new report suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should consider lowering the legal limit in drinking water for nitrates, a chemical often connected to fertilizer use.

Survey: Cover Crops Improve Yields

Sep 28, 2017
U.S. Department of Agriculture

According to a recent survey, farmers are seeing a number of benefits of using cover crops, including better yields.

As High Plains Journal reports, based on a 2017 Cover Crop Survey - conducted by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and the Conservation Technology Information Center -  of just over 2,000 farmers, corn yields increased 2 to 3 bushels per acre, wheat yields increased 1.9 bushels per acre and soybean yields increased 2.1 bushels per acre.

Arkansas Poised To Ban Dicamba Weedkiller

Sep 25, 2017

Regulators in Arkansas have proposed to effectively ban farmers from using a controversial weedkiller produced by Monsanto that is thought to be destroying crops after drifting in the wind.

The Arkansas State Plant Board proposed a ban on using the herbicide dicamba on cotton and soybeans from April 16 to October 31, essentially the entire growing season. (PDF)

US Fish and Wildlife Service

As a southwest Kansas farmer does his part to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer, his daughter is following suit - through an FFA project. 

As Kansas Agland reports, Dwane Roth of Holcomb changed his mind about the use of irrigation to water his corn crop a few years ago, after realizing that even though the top couple of inches of soil was dry, the water beneath it was sufficient to water his crop.

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There are a lot of players in farm bill discussions nowadays, and as Politico reports, all of them - in one way or another - are related.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Elise Golan, sustainable development director at the USDA, said the farm bill is flawed in that it segregates by topics such as nutrition, trade, conservation and horticulture.

Every year on the farm has its challenges. There are weeds, insects and random hailstorms. Unpredictable global markets can make or break a profitable crop. Recent years, though, have been especially troubling for the Hammond farm in York County in eastern Nebraska.

Promised gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Batten / Wikimedia Commons

An upcoming documentary on the Discovery channel will explore a new grassroots conservation movement in America—a movement based on stewardship of the land, and centered on those who live and work on the land.

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman tells the story of four stewards of the land in the U.S., including a Kansas farmer, a Montana rancher, and a fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. The film is narrated by Tom Brokaw and based on a book of the same name.

Of all the expensive machinery Tom Giessel worked during the 2017 wheat harvest, his favorite sits in the office of his home.

It’s a microfilm machine, the kind found in a high school library. Giessel uses it for his work as the historian of the National Farmers Union, the nation’s second-largest farm group.

Farmers, Ranchers Concerned About Health Care Costs

Jul 18, 2017
publicdomainpictures.net

As the national debate on health care heats up, farmers and ranchers have a lot on the line.   

As Politico reports, farmers have been struggling with the economic challenges of sluggish crop prices and sharply lower farm income. And even though close to 90 percent of farmers have health insurance, their concerns over health care is more widespread than it may seem.

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‘I need more Mexicans.’

Several southwest Kansans are featured in a June 20 Bloomberg Businessweek article with that headline – a message the article reports Kansas farmers are sending to President Donald Trump.

According to Blooomberg, arrests of suspected undocumented workers have jumped 38 percent since Trump signed a pair of executive orders targeting immigration in January. This has some in the state worried about the impact on the rural economy.

LT. SETH FRIZZELL / HOLCOMB COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Areas of south central Kansas ravaged by March 6 wildfires could take decades to rebuild.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the fire that started March 5 in Oklahoma and spread north at 50 mph burned 600,000 acres in Kansas, making it the largest wildfire in state history.  Area ranchers lost 5,000 cattle and more than 1,000 miles of fencing and most of the ranches suffered more than $1 million in damages, much of it uninsured.

Brandon Biesemeier climbs up a small ladder into a John Deere sprayer, takes a seat in the enclosed cab, closes the door, and blocks out most of the machine’s loud engine hum. It is a familiar perch to the fourth-generation farmer on Colorado’s eastern plains.

He turns onto a country road, heading south to spray an herbicide on his cornfields, an early growing season task his genetically engineered crops demand if he is to unlock their value. In the cab, a computer screen shows a little pixelated tractor moving across digital fields, logging his work.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.

Kansas net farm income rebounds somewhat, but ag economy continues to slump

May 30, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS CC0

Kansas average net farm income rebounded somewhat last year to $43,161 from a dismal stretch the previous year when income fell to $6,744 – the lowest in 30 years. 

Other areas of the state were more affected by the slumping farm economy. In northwest Kansas, farmers averaged $389 and south-central farms averaged a loss of $5,352.

Meanwhile, southeast Kansas farms fared better than in other areas, with average net farm income of $109,344.

Northeast Kansas income averaged $48,197, southwest at $39,615 and north-central at $34,205.

A leading research center focused on local farmers and environmental conservation is hanging on by a thread, even as the movement to diversify agriculture, which it helped launch, continues to thrive.

Palmer amaranth and other weeds may develop resistance to common herbicides if they aren't successfully killed.Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public MediaEdit | Remove

Belt-tightening has been the trend for row-crop farmers in the Midwest for the past several years as corn and soybean prices remain low. Reducing application of expensive herbicides may be tempting to save money, but that’s a strategy that could result in severe economic consequences down the road.

Midwesterners are used to extreme weather. We take pride in enduring everything from torrential downpours to the most desiccating drought.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of these fluctuations between drought and flood, though, according to new research published by scientists at the University of Kansas, and this "weather whiplash" will deteriorate the quality of drinking water.

Farmers and ranchers, with their livelihoods intimately tied to weather and the environment, may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump Administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

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Northern Colorado agriculture producers are struggling to find U.S. workers.

As the Greeley Tribune reports, there aren’t enough U.S. workers who will do the labor-intensive work required by the agriculture industry, as many have moved to other labor-intensive industries like oil or construction.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Bob, Robbie and Leah Maass ready equipment for planting season on their farm near Ellsworth, Iowa.Credit AMY MAYER / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIAEdit | Remove

Three months after his nomination, Sonny Perdue faces a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate Monday for the post of secretary of agriculture.

A new tractor often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but not included in that price: the right to repair it. That has put farmers on the front lines of a battle pitting consumers against the makers of all kinds of consumer goods, from tractors to refrigerators to smart phones.  

Modern tractors, essentially, have two keys to make the engine work. One key starts the engine. Today’s tractors are high-tech machines that can steer themselves by satellite, so there is another key – a software key – to get into the programs that make a tractor run properly.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Imagine you’re a farmer and it’s time to decide what to plant. You need information on supply, demand, prices, outlook -- information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, university extension services, even economists at the Federal Reserve.

Sandra J. Milburn / Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

One attribute that Colby Harner inherited from his father and grandfather is hard work.

The 25-year-old takes pride in this. It’s why he followed in their footsteps and became a farmer. He enjoys the work of raising crops and cattle, then reaping the harvest of his labor. 

But right now, eking out a living on the farm is even harder - especially for the young operator.

Hybrid seed corn and nitrogen fertilizer transformed farming in the 20th century, but they are also closely tied to some of today’s major agricultural challenges. That has prompted some members of two families that played pivotal roles in developing farm innovations to work on putting a lighter, 21st century stamp on the landscape.

In Carlisle, Iowa, Rob Fleming still uses the 1947 Ford 2n tractor he drove on the family farm as a teenager. Back then, neat rows of corn lined his family’s fields. Not anymore.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

President Donald Trump has nominated former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary, bucking a recent trend of Midwest leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and making many in the farm country of the Midwest and Great Plains a little leery.

Coupled with the appointments of leaders from Oklahoma and Texas to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy, respectively, there looks to be a shift in the power center of the parts of the federal government that most directly impact agriculture.

To diversify the landscape, diversify who works it

Feb 28, 2017
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don’t reflect the nation’s demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system’s greatest challenges.

Colorado rancher shows support for Trump in a big way

Feb 26, 2017
9 News

An eastern Colorado rancher is showing his support of President Donald Trump in a way only a rancher, or farmer, could come up with.

As 9 News reports, rancher Doug Koehn of Limon, in frustration at some of the negativity coming from opponents of Trump, hopped on his plow and carved the word “TRUMP” in big block letters into his field.

The letters are approximately 800 feet wide and 800 feet long, a mile-long Trump, Koehn told 9 News.

In search of profit, some conventional farmers may go local

Feb 22, 2017
Bryan Thomas / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Amy Bickel

With their water wells dropping, two farmers from the far southwest corner of Kansas flew a 1967 Cessna Wednesday morning to Topeka – all in support of hemp.

Farmers Darren Buck and Reid Shrauner didn’t have quite the journey as some of their fellow Morton County residents, who left before sunlight to support a bill that they think could boost their county’s struggling economy and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.

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