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.

Michelle Cesare / flickr Creative Commons

Genetically engineered crops are safe to eat, but they don’t deliver on all their promises: That’s according to a new analysis from a national scientific panel.

A National Academy of Sciences committee spent two years digging into the data on GMO crops. What they ended up with is a mixed bag. The GMO foods on the market are safe to eat, and they’ve reduced the use of certain pesticides, the panel says. But the varieties on the market haven’t delivered on their claims of dramatically increasing the yields farmers pull out of the field.

Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a rough year for honeybees. A new report shows beekeepers throughout the country lost more than 40 percent of their colonies since April of last year.

Most scientists agree you can’t blame one thing for the drop in honeybee colonies. It’s a domino effect, where one problem like loss of habitat exacerbates others like exposure to pesticides and disease. But the nastiest problem plaguing commercial beekeepers is the tiny, parasitic Varroa mite.

“They literally eat the bees alive,” Amy Toth says.

Both studies honeybee health at Iowa State University.

The population of northern Colorado is booming, and we're not just talking about people here.

The number of dairy cows is now higher than ever.

At the northern edge of the state, Weld and Larimer counties are already home to high numbers of beef and dairy cattle, buttressed by the region's numerous feedlots, which send the animals to several nearby slaughterhouses. But an expansion of a cheese factory owned by dairy giant Leprino Foods will require even more cows.

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.