Luke Runyon

I'm a reporter with Harvest Public Media based at KUNC, covering the wide range of agricultural stories in Colorado.

I came to KUNC in March 2013, after spending about two years as a reporter with Aspen Public Radio in Aspen, Colorado.

During my time in Aspen, I was recognized by the Colorado Broadcasters Association and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. for my reporting and production work. My reports have been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

I'm the product of two farm families in central Illinois, which is where I spent most of my formative years. Before moving to Colorado I spent a year covering local and state government for Illinois Public Radio and WUIS in the state's capital. I have a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield, the same place where I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

cyclonebill, flickr Creative Commons

The World Health Organization released a report Monday that linked diets heavy on red and processed meat to certain types of cancer. Now, the US meat industry is responding. 

An international scientific panel found that regularly eating processed meat, like sausage and bacon, increases the risk of colorectal cancer. But a Denver-based group representing ranchers and meat packing companies says the data is murky.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

It takes a massive amount of resources to produce our beef, chicken and pork. That’s why some savvy entrepreneurs are ready to offer up alternatives with lighter environmental footprints. Harvest Public Media's Luke Runyon takes a look at what the future could bring for businesses trying to push traditionally raised meat off the dinner plate.

Beef, poultry and pork are staples of the American diet, baked into the country’s very culture, and backbones of the agricultural economy. But lately, the meats have been saddled with some baggage.

jetsandzeppelins, flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a final set of rules meant to reduce pesticide exposure for farm workers. 

Federal officials haven’t updated pesticide requirements for farm workers since 1992. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the previous rules were lacking.

Now, anyone who applies pesticides must be older than 18 and undergo annual training. Before there was no age requirement and training only happened every 5 years.

Rachel Andrew, flickr Creative Commons

The market for organic foods is continuing its explosive growth, according to new data from federal agriculture officials. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon has more.

Anthony Albright, flickr Creative Commons

Farmers and ranchers are on track to break records for meat production this year, according to a new report. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon explains, that could translate to lower prices.

A glut of meat could eventually drop prices at the grocery store. But according to the agricultural lender COBank, consumers will have to wait while the markets balance out and some global issues are resolved.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Publice Media

A new report finds farms are getting better internet access. But as Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports, a large percentage of farms still can’t connect to the web.

One big impediment is infrastructure. In rural areas of the Midwest there are huge swathes without any internet connectivity. Federal communications officials say more than half of all rural Americans lack fast, reliable broadband internet connections.

Lu Nelsen at the Center for Rural Affairs says the lack of access just deepens the urban-rural divide.

Luke Runyon, Harvest Public Medi

An Idaho judge this week struck down a law that criminalized undercover recordings of farms and ranches. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports, that could put a similar law in Kansas in jeopardy.

Most ag-gag laws, as they’re called, are designed to prevent animal rights groups from secretly videotaping large-scale dairy, poultry and hog farms. They’re usually looking for instances of abuse. The Idaho judge said the state’s law was unconstitutional.

The marijuana industry has a pesticide problem. Many commercial cannabis growers use chemicals to control bugs and mold. But the plant's legal status is unresolved.

The grow room at Medical MJ Supply in Fort Collins, Colo., has all the trappings of a modern marijuana cultivation facility: glowing yellow lights, plastic irrigation tubes, and rows of knee-high cannabis plants.

"We're seeing a crop that's probably in it third or fourth week," says Nick Dice, the owner.

A fungus that stunts wheat plants is spreading across the Great Plains, causing big headaches for farmers. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon has more...

It’s called stripe rust, and it loves cool temperatures and wet spring weather. Scott Haley is a plant scientist at Colorado State University.

“If the environment is just right, like it was this year, we can have major epidemics... like we’re having this year," he says.

The average American farmer is a white man in his late 50s. Or at least, that's who's in charge of the farm, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But the number of female-run farms has tripled since the 1970s, to nearly 14 percent in 2012. And if you dig a little deeper, you'll find women are showing up in new roles. But because of the way farm businesses are structured, women's work often isn't included in those USDA counts.