farming

Farming & Mental Health
12:20 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Report: Farmer Suicide Rate Higher Than All Other Workers

A new study shows that agricultural workers have unusually high suicide rates compared to other workers.
Credit 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.

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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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FFA thriving amid decline
8:00 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Fewer farms kids but record Future Farmers

The blue corduroy jackets sported by high schoolers in FFA have been a part of the group's brand since its founding in 1928.
Credit 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.

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Harvest Public Media story
6:27 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Sticker shock – it’s not just on new tractors anymore

Brand new 2014 John Deere 2014 model S-690 combine on display in the field at sunset.
Credit John Deere / http://www.deere.com/

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.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:41 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

End of Tax Break Could Affect Tractor Sales

Illinois farmer Len Corzine is surrounded by some of his brand new farm equipment.
Credit 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.

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My Farm Roots -- Harvest Public Media series
8:00 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Still farming, despite disability

Despite suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, Steve Quandt still farms outside Grand Island, NE.
Credit 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.

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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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Harvest Public Media story
8:00 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Doing More With Less Water

Tom Trout, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who focuses on efficient and effective irrigation methods, checks sunflowers on a USDA research plot in Weld County, CO.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Hear the audio version of Luke's story.

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.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:57 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Howard Buffett: Farmer of the world

Admitting he’s a boy who loves big toys, Howard Buffett stands on his John Deere tractor on his Arizona research farm.
Credit 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.’”

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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 story
8:01 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Metal thefts plague farm country

Mike Obermann was among the victims of a rash of metal thefts in rural Missouri. Since then, he has installed theft-protection measures on his farm.
Credit 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.

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Harvest Public Media field note
8:01 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Want to invest in farmland? Join the crowd

Charles Polanco's company allows investors to team up and invest in farmland.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

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

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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
Thu June 13, 2013

Budget cuts and wider competition for USDA's 'rural' dollars

Eugene Jacquez’s family has grown beans and raised sheep at the base of the Culebra peaks in San Luis, Colo., for generations. He belongs to the Rio Culebra Cooperative and says without federal funding, many of his neighbors will be reluctant to sell to the co-op.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

    As lawmakers debate the Farm Bill in Washington, millions of dollars are at stake for small businesses across the country. Rural development grants go out to everything from home loans to water projects to small co-ops.

With budget cuts likely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting how these funds are used, and proposing changes to the word “rural.” But there’s concern that a tighter belt at the federal level means farmers and ranchers in small towns will be left behind.

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Harvest Public Media story
6:27 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

The Tricky Business of Running a CSA

A regular supply of fresh, locally grown produce is the expected return from investors in a CSA farm.

Within the local food movement, the community supported agriculture, or CSA, model is praised. It’s considered one of the best ways to restore a connection to the foods we eat. Consumers buy a share of a farmer’s produce up front as a shareholder and then reap the rewards at harvest time. But as Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports running a CSA can bring some tricky business decisions.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Refugees find home on the farm

At Global Greens Farm in West Des Moines, Iowa, Bel Chhetri (in foreground) works the land with his grandparents and a friend. They emigrated from Nepal.
Credit Amy Mayer, Harvest Public Media

On a small farm in suburban West Des Moines, Iowa, even the barn is a refugee—an historic structure relocated from nearby Valley High School. The farmers, most of them refugees, are just starting to hoe the land, each one working a 50-foot by 50-foot plot where they’ll grow corn, beans, cabbage, eggplant, onions, tomatoes and peppers.

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Harvest Public Media feature story
1:26 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

My Farm Roots: From pastime to passion

Aaron Troester farms about 5,000 irrigated acres in north-central Nebraska.
Hilary Stohs-Krause for Harvest Public Media

Aaron Troester’s life both did, and didn’t, turn out exactly the way he planned.

The 29-year-old farmer in the north-central Nebraska town of O’Neill was pouring honey into jars from bees he keeps when I met him. I soon learned he had a chemistry degree and had planned to go to medical school, but the lure of the land he farms with his father changed his mind.

“All through grade school, I knew I wanted to farm,” Troester said. That changed in college, but a year spent back on the farm while waitlisted for med school slowly evolved from passing the time into passion.

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