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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Clovis Withdraws From USDA Nomination In Wake Of Ties To 2016 Election Investigation

Nov 1, 2017

Updated 12:20 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3

Sam Clovis, who ran President Donald Trump's campaign in Iowa, has withdrawn his nomination to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientist position. Clovis was linked this week to the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Clovis sent Trump a letter, dated Nov. 1, that says the political climate "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position" during his Nov. 9 Senate confirmation hearing.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

An event Monday planned to mark two Midwestern political appointees joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture was partly spoiled by a political dispute over biofuels.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue came to Omaha, Nebraska, to officially name Greg Ibach, who is the director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Bill Northey, the head of Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, as USDA undersecretaries. Perdue swore-in Ibach, but not Northey, whose confirmation is being blocked in the Senate.

Amy Mayer / IPR File Photo

Republican and Democratic senators from top corn- and ethanol-producing states say their pressure helped prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from changing rules governing renewable fuel production.

But at least one senator, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, says President Trump was their ace in the hole against an EPA chief who has deep ties to the oil and gas industry.

Alex Smith / Harvest Public Media

A new report suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should consider lowering the legal limit in drinking water for nitrates, a chemical often connected to fertilizer use.

Krisofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

There will be new restrictions on the weed killer dicamba for the 2018 growing season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

The broadly defined restrictions, similar to what the state of Missouri imposed over the summer, were announced Friday in a news release. The EPA says it reached an agreement with agriculture giants Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on ways to tamp down on dicamba drift, which has been blamed for destroying or damaging millions of acres of crops in the United States.

Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture is one step closer to a new post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bill Northey appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. He answered questions about a variety of farm-support and conservation programs he would oversee as undersecretary from the farm and foreign agricultural services.

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.


Applying large amounts of pesticides to farm fields can have negative effects on babies born to mothers living nearby, according to new research.

The data-crunching study published in Nature Communications looked at the farm-heavy San Joaquin Valley in California, where a variety of pesticides get applied to dozens of different crops including fruits, vegetables and nuts.


Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is questioning the qualifications of President Trump’s pick to lead the research division at the USDA, a post generally held in the past by a trained scientist.

In July, Trump nominated former conservative talk radio host and economics professor Sam Clovis to be the agency’s undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics.

nostri-imago / Flickr / Creative Commons

One order of business for Congress after the Labor Day holiday: re-upping the Farm Bill, which expires next year. Currently, there is hope for a bipartisan success this fall.

The farm bill provides subsidies for farmers and governs the food stamp program, and it has traditionally skirted the worst of partisan politics.

But vacancies at the top of the Agriculture Department mean fewer leaders working on the farm bill.