Amy Mayer

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also  previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth.  She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times,  Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.

Amy has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Wellesley College and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Amy’s favorite public radio program is The World.

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The nation has a new agriculture secretary.

The U.S. Senate on Monday voted to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Department of Agriculture. He takes over a department that was without a top boss for three months after former secretary Tom Vilsack resigned. Vilsack served the entire eight years of the Obama administration (one of the longest-serving agriculture secretaries in recent decades).

President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, testified in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture committee on Thrusday, but remains far from the head job at USDA.

The committee did not indicate when it would vote on whether to advance Perdue’s nomination.

Bruce Tuten, flickr Creative Commons

President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the agriculture department will face Senate confirmation hearings on Thursday.

Sonny Perdue was the last cabinet secretary nomination Trump announced more than two months ago.

Some senators have said one reason it’s taken so long for confirmation hearings is that Perdue had to unravel himself from many agribusiness dealings in order to comply with financial disclosure and ethics requirements.

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.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The agriculture sector needs to ramp up its response to climate change, especially in the Midwest, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers at the University of Maryland used climate projections and historical trends in agricultural productivity to predict how changes in temperature and rainfall will impact food production.

wikipedia.org

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday that his first job outside the Cabinet will be heading up a dairy industry trade group.

Tom Vilsack, who stepped down as agriculture secretary last week, will join the U.S. Dairy Export Council as president. The Council is one of several related groups that advocate and lobby on behalf of the dairy industry. But Vilsack says he doesn’t expect to be at the Capitol asking lawmakers to pass certain bills.

Luke Runyon, file photo / Harvest Public Media

A federal court has sided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and against environmental groups in a case the groups had hoped would hasten water clean-up efforts.

The Gulf Restoration Network and environmental groups from Mississippi River watershed states argued the EPA needs to enforce more specific water quality standards. But, on appeal, a U.S. District Court ruled the Clean Water Act leaves that authority to the states.

Iowa Environmental Council’s Susan Heathcote says that’s going to put more pressure on local efforts.

Emily Bell / flickr Creative Commons

With farmers coming off a third straight year of lower incomes, 2017 will require some more belt-tightening.

Persistently low prices for major commodity crops including corn and soybeans may inch up slightly in the new year. But Iowa State economist Chad Hart says farmer are adjusting their strategies to ride out the slump.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Cropland in the Midwest is losing its value as the downturn in the agriculture economy continues.

Record-high crop prices contributed to record-high land values in 2012 and 2013. But now, that party is over.

Iowa State University economist Wendong Zhang says across the Corn Belt, and into the Great Plains, farmers are now suffering from oversupply, despite strong demand.

"Because we had this really high profits, everyone is trying to increase productions," Zhang says.

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As he prepares to leave Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is warning the next administration about the impact of global markets on U.S. farmers.

Democrat Tom Vilsack’s quick to point out he’s not privy to any information from the Republican president-elect. But he’s worried about how Donald Trump will approach immigration and trade. Vilsack says bad decisions could spur retaliation from China and Mexico—two of our top three trading partners.

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