farming

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.

Kansas Geological Survey

Thanks to timely rains last year, Mount Hope-area farmer Jeff Winter figures on some of his fields he pumped half the amount of water that he normally uses to irrigate his crops.

So did many central Kansas farmers. And it showed. 

While the Ogallala Aquifer continues to decline, the Equus Beds and Great Bend Prairie aquifers saw rises as irrigators shut down their wells more often in 2016.

"We didn't have to pump as much, and we shut off more frequently," said Winter, who also is on the Equus Beds board. He added that on a few fields, he pumped even less.

A new barrier to life on the farm: Student debt

Feb 15, 2017
Kristofer Husted / Harvest Public Media

Liz Graznak runs an organic farm in Jamestown, Missouri, which she calls Happy Hollow Farm. She sells her vegetables to local restaurants, in CSA boxes and at the farmer’s market.  But eight years ago, after falling in love with the idea of growing her own local produce, the farm she runs today looked like a near-impossible dream.

Colorado State University

A Colorado State University crop and soil scientist recently secured funding for sites in northeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska to look at ways diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops can maintain yields, keep soils productive, reduce environmental impacts and address retention of soil carbon and water.

Megan Schipanski, CSU crop and soil scientist, applied for the grant and extension personnel on the High Plains will be assisting in local areas by providing a solid producer base for onsite research

Creative Commons CC0

A western Kansas farming family struggling to keep their fifth-generation farming operation afloat amidst a slump in corn, wheat and other commodity prices is featured in a Wall Street Journal article about the struggling farm economy.

The ongoing slump in corn, wheat and other commodity prices, caused by global oversupply, is putting many farmers in debt and in some cases, resulting in farm closures.

CC0 Public Domain

Options are available to those interested in getting into farming or ranching.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA), alternative crops and high value markets offer profit potential and lower risk for new farmers.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

TOPEKA – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey are urging government officials to consider that Kansas landowners have implemented efforts to protect the lesser prairie chicken and that a threatened or endangered listing is not warranted.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Perhaps no one is as aware of the climate and its impact on the earth than a farmer.

The New York Times recently featured one such farmer in north central Kansas, Doug Palen, a fourth-generation farmer who the Times reports has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust.

Colorado farm and ranch income has hit its lowest level in 30 years, according University of Colorado Boulder research.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, much of agriculture is suffering in Colorado, which like other parts of the High Plains region is facing low corn, wheat and cattle prices.

Wikimedia Commons

Some regulatory freezes instituted by President Donald Trump could be damaging to the country’s farm belt, according to some agricultural groups.

As Reuters reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will delay implementation of this year’s biofuels requirements along with 29 other regulations finalized in the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to a government notice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will delay rules affecting livestock.

An international study published in the journal, Nature Communications, reports that harvests in the United States are likely to shrink by a between one-fifth to half their current sizes due to rising temperatures over the next century.

Down times in farm country persist, but not yet a ‘crisis’

Jan 17, 2017
Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they’ll be struggling just to break even.

“Prices are low, bins are full, and the dollar is strengthening as we speak and that’s just making the export thing a little more challenging,” says Paul Burgener of Platte Valley Bank in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A new U.S. government study claims ethanol is better for the environment than most scientists initially expected, boosting an industry that is a boon to Midwest farmers but challenged by many environmental groups and the oil industry.

Wikimedia Commons

Farming is one of the most dangerous professions in the nation.

As High Plains Journal reports, the pitfalls and hazards of farming are so many and varied that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls it one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A federal investigation has been launched into the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million by an employee of an obscure state board that promotes the beef industry, money created by a mandatory government program funded by farmers and ranchers.

Watch: Down times have farmers looking to cut costs

Jan 9, 2017
Harvest Public Media

The federal government expected net farm income and farm profits to fall in 2016, the third-straight year of declines. That means farmers and ranchers are taking a closer look at their finances, and many aren’t very optimistic about their prospects for 2017.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering organic producers and handlers federal reimbursement to cover the cost of organic certification.

Two local farming families from Amarillo and a non-profit organization partnered together to provide weekend snack packs for kids at risk for hunger across the Texas Panhandle and San Antonio a few years ago, and now feeds over 7000 students per week.

More urban farms sprouting with USDA's help

Dec 29, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

Farming, a largely rural activity, is moving to the cities, as urban farms continue to grow with help from the federal government.

Brian McGuirk / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Agland is taking a look at the agriculture economy from the perspective of farmers and farm implement dealers, who are finding ways to adapt.

An overabundant supply in wheat, corn and every other crop has pushed the prices of those commodities below what many farmers need to break even.

Southwest Kansas farmers develop dual disc cutter

Nov 21, 2016
Kopper Kutter, LLC

A Cimarron farmer, a custom cutter and a Manhattan agriculture consultant have designed, built, patented and distributed a new type of dual disc cutter that converts corn heads to harvest sorghum, sunflowers and cellulose, and other row crops.

Pages