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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Canned Muffins, flickr Creative Commons

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, on Thursday released a report on food waste in the U.S.

Up to 40 percent of food in the U.S. is tossed out--most of it at home. The report estimates one fifth of all agricultural water, fertilizer and cropland produce food that ends up in the landfill.

But JoAnne Berkenkamp, senior advocate with the NRDC, says consumer awareness has improved thanks to tight wallets.

FILE: ABBIE FENTRESS SWANSON / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Chemical runoff from Midwest farm fields is contributing to the largest so-called "dead zone" on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

The demand for beef, pork and chicken raised on smaller farms closer to home is growing. Now, some Midwest farmers, like Johnson, are exploring how to graze livestock to meet those demands while still earning a profit.  

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to reduce the amount of fuel in our gasoline supply that’s made from plants -- fuel produced with far less carbon dioxide than petroleum or even ethanol made from corn. That has some concerned that the Trump Administration plans to pull back from supporting innovation in renewable fuels.

On a sweltering summer morning, Rob Mitchell surveys a plot of switchgrass at a research field near Lincoln, Nebraska. The grass is lush, green and nearly six feet tall.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Farms and ranches throughout the country won’t see their labor shortages solved by a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a call with reporters while visiting Mexico ahead of the trade talks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said labor issues likely wouldn’t be addressed during formal negotiations among the United States, Mexico and Canada, set to begin August 16th.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media/File photo

Hundreds of Midwest farmers are complaining of damage to their crops allegedly caused by the herbicide dicamba. The total number of damaged acres may come to more than 2.5 million acres, according to data compiled by a University of Missouri researcher.

Most of the damage has been found in the Midwest and South, with complaints of more than 850,000 damaged acres in Arkansas and more than 300,000 damaged acres in both Missouri and Illinois.

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.

Connor Tarter / flickr Creative Commons

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a new dimension to the urban-rural divide: death rates related to cancer.

Cancer death rates are falling nationwide, but they remain higher in rural areas (180 deaths per 100,000 persons) than in cities (158 deaths per 100,000 persons), according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

A case of mad cow disease has been found in a cow in Alabama.

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists confirmed Tuesday that an 11-year-old cow found in an Alabama livestock market suffered from the neurologic cattle disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The animal “at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States,” according to the USDA.

sfgamchick, flickr Creative Commons

Streams and rivers in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska and other parts of the central Great Plains are vanishing as farmers continue to pump groundwater to irrigate their crops.

Groundwater is the lifeblood of Great Plains agriculture. But as farmers pump more, it’s turning nearby creeks into dry riverbeds.

Kurt Fausch, a Colorado State University professor, says in a 60-year span about 350 miles of stream disappeared in eastern Colorado, southwest Nebraska and northwest Kansas. And if farmers keep pumping, another 180 miles could vanish by 2060.

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