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.

Matt Davis, flickr Creative Commons

An anti-poverty group is pushing the country’s largest poultry companies to be more transparent about worker safety issues.

Advocates at Oxfam America say companies like Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson and Sanderson Farms have sped up their processing lines, creating unsafe, even harsh, working conditions. Oxfam says that allows the companies to process more chickens and keep prices low at the grocery store.

Americans throw away about a third of our available food.

But what some see as trash, others are seeing as a business opportunity. A new facility known as the Heartland Biogas Project is taking wasted food from Colorado's most populous areas and turning it into electricity. Through a technology known as anaerobic digestion, spoiled milk, old pet food and vats of grease combine with helpful bacteria in massive tanks to generate gas.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Food waste is an expensive problem. The average U.S. family puts a couple thousand dollars worth of food in the garbage every year. But what some see as a problem, others see as a business opportunity. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports on the promises and limitations of a technology that pledges to turn wasted food into electricity.

Food waste is an expensive problem. The average U.S. family puts upwards of $2,000 worth of food in the garbage every year.

bloom, flickr Creative Commons

Every year Americans spend billions of dollars on food that’s never eaten. Now, as Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports, a group of nonprofits have a plan to cut down on food waste.

That group, called ReFED, pinpoints where in the food system waste occurs and offers some solutions--easy, small things like encouraging at-home composting smaller plates at buffets, but also tough, complicated fixes like standardized date labels on food packages.

mcdarius, flickr Creative Commons

On Tuesday, President Obama vetoed a Congressional effort to halt changes to the Clean Water Act. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports many farm groups oppose the regulatory change.

The Obama Administration wants to alter a portion of the Clean Water Act to clarify the bodies of water that can be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some prominent farm groups worry the language is too vague and characterized the rule as an overreach by the EPA.

Farm Acres Drop In 2015

Jan 19, 2016
Matthias Ripp, flickr Creative Commons

The number of acres farmers used to grow crops plummeted in 2015. It was the biggest year to year drop in almost three decades.

Farmers throughout the country’s Midwestern corn and wheat belt had to contend with an extremely wet planting season in 2015. And U.S. Department of Agriculture statistician Lance Honig says with depressed crop prices, it was a tough year for some growers.

“More production is always better than less production from an economic health perspective if you’re a producer," Honig says.

Americans living in rural areas are struggling more than their urban counterparts seven years after the start of the Great Recession.

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.