Grant Gerlock

Harvest Public Media's reporter at NET News, where he started as Morning Edition host in 2008. He joined Harvest Public Media in July 2012. Grant has visited coal plants, dairy farms, horse tracks and hospitals to cover a variety of stories. Before going to Nebraska, Grant studied mass communication as a grad student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed his undergrad at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor, but has taken up city life in Lincoln, Neb.

Luke Runyon, Harvest Public Medi

New numbers show ranchers are growing their cattle herds and that’s good news if you’re shopping for beef.

Cattle numbers were slashed during the drought a few years ago, reaching their lowest levels in half century. Since then the industry has been slowly rebuilding and that’s confirmed in the latest study from the Department of Agriculture.

The number of beef cows is over 30 million for the first time since 2012. That means ranchers will have to get by with lower prices for their animals.

Matthias Ripp, flickr Creative Commons

Midwest farmers are borrowing more money to stay afloat. That’s because the farm economy is in a rough patch.

Grain prices are low and farm income has fallen for two straight years.

The Kansas City Federal Reserve gathers survey data from banks across the country. It found farmers borrowed around $100 billion in the last quarter of 2015 to keep their operations running.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

An attachment to the last-minute spending bill passed by Congress ends a six-year trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. Grant Gerlock of Harvest Public Media reports the countries were fighting over meat labels favored by American ranchers.

They’re country of origin labels, and you’ll find them on packages of uncooked beef, pork, and poultry. They tell where the animals were born, raised, and slaughtered.

American ranchers like Jim Dinklage of Nebraska say the labels keep global meat giants like Brazil-based JBS from replacing domestic supply with cheap imports.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

When most Americans sit down to dinner, meat is often at the center of the table. This week Harvest Public Media is exploring some of the big issues in how our meat is made. Today, as part of the series "Choice Cuts: Meat In America," reporter Grant Gerlock looks at the growing global demand for meat, and how it could eat up more land.

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it.

And we eat lots of it.

Corn prices are down and the farm bill is stalled in Congress. So there's a lot of uncertainly in the air as harvest season gets into full swing across the Midwest. But this is a time of year when farm families like the Friesens in Henderson, Neb., come together to focus on the big task at hand: the corn harvest.

Everyone in the family has a job to do.

"Like my dad — he drives auger wagon," Curt Friesen says. "He drives auger wagon only. That's all he's done since 1976, I think. ... My wife, Nancy, she drives the combine; that's her job."

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, here's a reality about farming. From the earliest days of this country, it's been an uncertain business, and for many decades, national policies have been designed to smooth out that risk. But, of course, the risk never entirely goes away. You can never control the rain, for example, and lately the uncertainty has been growing. Corn prices are down. The farm bill is stalled in Congress and there's a sense that good times may be fading.

From Nebraska, Grant Gerlock of NET News brings us his report.