Jeremy Bernfeld

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Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor nominated by President Donald Trump, is one step closer to becoming U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after the Senate Agriculture Committee approved his nomination Thursday.

Yet Perdue remains one step shy of the post; the full Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on his nomination. Perdue, however, is widely expected to be approved.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto says it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Grace Hood / Harvest Public Media/File

Just one day after directing its researchers not to publicly share their research, and after suffering a public relations backlash, the Department of Agriculture’s main research arm has rescinded its original order, saying it “values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public…”

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Secretary of Agriculture remains the only position in the Trump cabinet without a nominee. As Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld reports, that worries some Midwest farmers.

The Agriculture Department employs nearly one-hundred thousand people and deals with everything from food stamps to farm loans to food safety. It administers programs in rural areas, which largely supported President-elect Donald Trump.

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Shareholders of agricultural seed and chemical giant Monsanto agreed to a merger on Tuesday, moving the controversial deal one-step closer to fruition.

German drug and chemical maker Bayer plans to pay shareholders $66 billion to take over Missouri-based Monsanto. That breaks down to $128 per share if the merger closes.

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The number of small farms in the U.S. is growing, but “large farms” are increasingly important to our food system.

Today, what researchers call “large farms” make up just 4 percent of the total number of U.S. farms, but they produce more than half of the country’s agricultural goods.

And a new study by the Department of Agriculture found the number of large farms more than doubled during a recent two-decade period. The number of mid-sized farms is on the decline. Chris Burns worked on the report.

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Low prices mean many farmers are facing tough times. As Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld explains, farmers think that’s not likely to let up.

Bumper harvest after bumper harvest has plunged prices for important crops like corn and soybeans.

Jim Mintert is a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. In a recent survey, his team found the vast majority of farmers expect bad financial times over the next year. More than a quarter said they expect prices to dip below what it takes to break even.

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This year will be a tight one financially for most farmers. As Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld reports, the Agriculture Department is forecasting a drop in farm income for the third straight year.

Farmers expect another record harvest for corn and soybeans, the country’s most important crops. That oversupply is pushing down prices, hurting a farmer’s bottom line. The USDA expects a nearly 12 percent cut in net farm income compared to last year. That would put net farm income at its lowest point since 2009.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Kansas farmers may be facing some of toughest financial times they have experienced in three decades. As Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld reports, that could put a hit on the economy.

The average net farm income in Kansas plummeted last year to just over $4,500. That’s a year-over-year drop of 96 percent, according to a report by the Kansas Farm Management Association.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The Environmental Protection Agency visited Midwest farm country yesterday for a hearing on ethanol policy in Kansas City.

The EPA controls how much ethanol has to be blended into our fuel supply by oil refiners. And the agency is trying to thread a very tricky needle.

Oil companies say we need less ethanol because the environmental benefits are overblown and we’re using less gas anyway. Farmers want more ethanol to help prices for corn and soybeans.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is part of the pro-ethanol crowd.

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