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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Victor / flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the Department of Agriculture shows rural parts of the country are still struggling more than eight years after the Great Recession. 

While the economy has improved marginally in rural areas since the recession, cities continue to do better. The rural employment rate still hasn’t returned to its pre-2008 level, and economic growth has been slow: An average rural worker made significantly less last year than an urban one.

Natalie Keyssar for NPR

Now that Donald Trump is elected, he must go on a hiring spree for his cabinet. Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports that farm country is wondering just who the Secretary of Agriculture will be.

Donn Teske is a Kansas farmer and vice president of the National Farmers Union. He says the joke in farm country before the election went something like this: Who knows who Donald Trump would put in as Ag Secretary? It might even be Hank Kimball.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Many low-income families struggle to afford enough food. Moms and kids who qualify can participate in a federal program geared toward early development. Once kids turn five, though, they are no longer eligible for the benefits. Harvest Public Media’s Kristofor Husted reports on how that puts families at risk.

It’s 7:30 in the morning at Battle Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri. Students hop off of their buses, head down the hallway past a few folding tables with crates of milk, fruit juice and warm muffins sitting on top.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

When Don Stull first heard the news that the FBI had foiled a domestic terrorism plot in Garden City, Kansas, aimed at the city’s Somalis, he thought: oh, no.

“It was so unlike the Garden City that I know,” he says.

Wikipedia

The next Congress may take up the farm bill a year ahead of schedule.

The current five-year farm bill became law in 2014. Congressional debate was contentious, including whether to keep nutrition assistance programs in the massive legislation that also funds the farm safety net, rural development and a myriad of U.S. Department of Agriculture priorities.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who sits on the agriculture committee, says low commodity prices and falling farm incomes could spur Congress to get started on the next law soon.

Cally Carswell / Inside Energy/Harvest Public Media

In the 1930s, rural electric cooperatives brought electricity to the country’s most far-flung communities, transforming rural economies. In western Colorado, one of these co-ops is again trying to spur economic development, partly by generating more of their electricity locally from renewable resources, like water in irrigation ditches and the sun.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

When heavy rains wash through farm country, chemicals from agricultural fields spill into small tributaries and eventually make their way to the Gulf of Mexico. That’s created an environmental disaster. For Harvest Public Media’s special series “Watching Our Water,” Kristofor Husted reports on new research into combating the problem.

Farming in the fertile Midwest is tied to an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists are studying new ways to lessen the Midwest’s environmental impact and improve water quality.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Agriculture is often blamed for the pollution in Midwestern rivers and streams. But there are other culprits for our dirty waters. Today, in the fourth installation of our series “Watching Our Water,” Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe looks at how cities respond to that pollution – and create some of it, too.

wikipedia.org

Supporters and opponents of several proposed mergers among agricultural seed and chemical companies made their case to lawmakers in Washington Tuesday.

Executives from Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta argue the proposed new combinations are necessary to continue the research that leads to innovation. But Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, says the new pairings, including a Chinese state-owned company buying Syngenta, could have the opposite effect.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Excess fertilizer and pesticides have flowed from farm fields into our waterways for years. While federal regulations have successfully cut back some water pollution, they have little muscle in combating one of the Midwest’s biggest environmental problems.

On a gray day, just as the rain begins to fall, Roger Zylstra stops his red GMC Sierra pick-up truck on the side of the road and hops down into a ditch in Jasper County, Iowa. It takes two such stops before he unearths amid the tall weeds and grasses what he’s looking for.

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