Harvest Public Media

Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri, Harvest covers agriculture-related topics through a network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.

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Frank Morris / KCUR and NPR

It’s a time of low unemployment across the Midwest, leading to a labor shortage that’s stunting the growth of urban and rural businesses. Given that Donald Trump campaigned on a staunchly pro-business platform, one would think he’d have instituted policies benefiting everything from high-tech startups to huge dairy operations.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

Since the George W. Bush administration, the federal government has doled out millions of dollars with the promise to expedite access to broadband service in remote parts of the country.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media, File Photo

The recent frigid weather across the Midwest has slowed river barges carrying grain to shipment ports, especially those destined for the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois rivers.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In places where the unemployment rate is well below the national average—states like Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa—one would think it’d be easier for communities to recruit new residents to fill open jobs.

But the housing market works against rural towns and cities where jobs often stay open because there are too few affordable homes and apartments to buy or rent, or the ones that are affordable need lots of TLC. It’s a situation that threatens to turn low unemployment from an advantage into a liability.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In the coming months, Congress will map out how it’ll spend upwards of $500 billion on food and farm programs over the next five years.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

Shoring up rural America’s economy must start with broadband access and technology, a federal task force says in a report released Monday.

The group, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and made up of other Cabinet members, says doing so will bring rural areas increased health care access, better job training, smart electrical grids and more precision farming technology. Little of that can be accomplished, the report says, without closing the broadband gap between urban and rural residents.

Alex Smith

A few years ago, Kansas City restaurateur Anton Kotar surveyed the local and national restaurant scenes and concluded his town’s reputation as a steakhouse paradise had slipped.

The problem, he says, is the way conventional beef is raised – bulked up with grain on feedlots, making it cheap and plentiful and changing what Americans expect to taste.

“I think some of our best steakhouses chased the quality of the beef to the bottom,” Kotar says.

Austin Kirk, flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts consumers will be paying less for beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey in early 2018 than at the start of 2017. However, eggs are a different story.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay out almost $7 billion this year through two safety-net programs that offer farmers some assistance during tough financial times.

While most of it goes to farmers who grow corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops, K-12 public schools also get a sliver of the total payout. That’s a benefit for often rural districts that are struggling due to state legislatures trimming back their cut of education funding.

Both programs were created under the 2014 Farm Bill. They tie payments to the land, not the land owner or farm operator.

USDA, flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it will withdraw a final rule about how animals on organic farms are raised. The implementation of the rule has been delayed several times.

Supporters saw it as a way to certify that organic meat came from humanely raised animals.

The USDA said Friday it’s withdrawing the rule because it exceeds the agency’s authority under the existing Organic Foods Production Act.

The Organic Trade Association’s Nathaniel Lewis says he is dismayed.

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