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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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.

Plymouth District Library / flickr Creative Commons

The Federal Communication Commission on Thursday overturned its 2015 decision to prevent internet service providers from slowing speeds or charging more for certain content. The vote on net neutrality could affect rural communities.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai — who grew up in Parsons, Kansas — says undoing the regulation may help people in rural areas get better internet access.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture faces a lawsuit that argues the federal agency must bring back a proposed rule that defined abusive practices by meatpacking companies.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The delivery of federal food benefits for millions of low-income people is likely to change after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week it will allow states more flexibility in how they dole out the money.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The farm economy is showing some stability, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, but the upswing doesn’t extend to all agricultural sectors.

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