Peggy Lowe

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.

COURTESY OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

For the first time in its annual survey of rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that mortality rates of working-age adults are on the rise because of opioid and heroin overdoses.

Continuing longtime trends, rural areas are still seeing declining populations, the rebound from the Great Recession is slow and poverty remains a persistent problem, according to the USDA’s “Rural America at a Glance,” released Thursday.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

On a feedlot in far southwest Kansas, two cowboys on horseback move cattle on the high dusty plains, spread out like dozens of football fields stitched together with miles of fences. Their “Buenos dias! Buenos dias!” greetings mix with moos on a hot summer morning.

They’re two of the 400 employees who work on the feedlot, which is one of the largest in the U.S. in a state that ranks third in meat production.

Bayer AG announced the sale of a large part of its agribusiness on Friday. The deal will move the company closer to yet another big deal.

Bayer AG says it sold part of its crop science division to BASF for $7 billion.

The sale includes Bayer’s field crop seed and pesticide businesses.

Bayer says the move is “an active approach” to help it win regulatory approval for its proposed buyout of Monsanto.

That $66 billion deal will merge two of the world’s largest agribusinesses.

Jill, flickr Creative Commons

A Tyson chicken processing plant in southwest Missouri was fined $2.5 million on Wednesday in a pollution case.

Dating back to 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency has found violations at Tyson’s Monett plant and deemed it a “significant non-complier” in cleaning up the problems.

In the latest case, the company pleaded guilty in federal court to discharging an animal feed ingredient that killed more than 100,000 fish in a nearby stream.

Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Of all the expensive machinery Tom Giessel worked during the 2017 wheat harvest, his favorite sits in the office of his home.

It’s a microfilm machine, the kind found in a high school library. Giessel uses it for his work as the historian of the National Farmers Union, the nation’s second-largest farm group.

It’s the best investment he ever made, he says, and it sits in his office where faded bound books of old newspapers are stacked ceiling high and row after row of square white film boxes are packed into a cabinet.

JULIE DENESHA / Harvest Public Media

Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture at the end of April.

Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe sat down with Perdue on his fourth day on the job at the American Royal complex in Kansas City, Missouri. She asked him about the Trump administration’s priorities for our food system, government nutrition programs, immigration policy and the future of the Agriculture Department.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Julie Denesha

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday said President Trump may be open to creating a way for some undocumented immigrant workers to stay in the U.S. and Perdue is already working on a “blueprint” of policy guidelines to offer the president.

Refusing to call it a pathway to citizenship, Perdue says he would like to find a solution that would allow workers in the ag industry to remain in the U.S. legally. That’s despite Trump’s campaign promises to step up deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday explained President Donald Trump’s turn-around on the North American Free Trade Agreement as just part of the negotiations in his deal making.

EARL DOTTER / OXFAM

Pushed by worker advocates and growing consumer awareness, Tyson Foods on Wednesday promised better conditions for workers at its meat processing plants.

Tyson, in a rare move in an industry heavily criticized for lack of worker safeguards, announced it would provide regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, give more attention to line speeds in the plants, offer training on workers’ rights and establish safety councils that include employees.

Alex Smith

On Tuesday, the Olathe bar shooting survivor being hailed as a hero joined the chorus of people calling on President Trump to denounce the targeting of two men because of their race.

Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to stop a gunman when he opened fire at Austins Bar & Grill last Wednesday, says he believes the shooter singled out the two Indian victims because of their ethnicity and hopes President Trump will address the incident.

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