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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Blackburnphoto / Flickr, creative commons

Farm income is down in the Midwest, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve, and that’s left more farmers relying on banks.

Low prices for crops like soybeans and corn, coupled with high input costs have pushed more farmers to apply for loans. Banks, though, have tightened lending.

Nathan Kauffman with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says there is a bright spot, though, and that’s China’s demand for American products.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The hardest part of starting a new food business should be perfecting the secret recipe. For many aspiring cooks though, the tough times come when searching for a space to legally make and sell their food. Commercial kitchen space, with stainless steel counters and industrial appliances, can be hard to come by. But as Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports, one tech startup is trying to fix that.

Kathy Lee meticulously pours strawberry rhubarb jam into small Mason jars. The jam is steaming, just off the stove.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

An Iowa Republican is questioning Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s commitment to ethanol. 

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says Hillary Clinton has been exploring an energy policy in California that focuses on carbon reduction and relies upon a market strategy.

That contrasts with the existing Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates production of ethanol and other bio-based fuels. The RFS has been a boon to Corn Belt farmers.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Few things are more valuable to a farmer in the arid West than irrigation water. Without it, the land turns back into its natural state: dry, dusty plains. If a fast-growing city is your neighbor, then your water holds even more value.

Farm families in Western states like California and Colorado are increasingly under pressure to sell their water. It’s been coined “buy and dry,” as water is diverted from farm fields and instead used to fill pipes in condos and subdivisions.

Brian McGuirk/Flickr Creative Commons

Low prices for grain, milk and beef are causing many Midwest farmers and ranchers to worry about paying their bills this year. 

With prices for some farm staples in the tank, many farmers will be lucky to break even this year.

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, is worried that lean times hit farmers harder than other business owners. “If you’re having trouble as a farmer or rancher, it’s not just your job that you’re having trouble with, it’s your whole livelihood, it’s your home," Johnson says.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. House passed a national standard for labeling food containing genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, yesterday. But as Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports, consumers may still have problems getting that information.

The bill, now passed by both the House and Senate, allows companies three ways to disclose that there are GMOs in their products. They can put text directly on the package, offer a phone number or website, or they can use a QR code that a shopper can scan with a smart phone.

FEMA

Floods, tornadoes and other severe weather can cause chaos in a community. As Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports, the Federal Emergency Management Agency hopes its smartphone app can help people prepare and recover.

The FEMA app lets you upload photos from a disaster, find a shelter and check on conditions for up to five different locations. Brenda Gustafson of the Kansas City FEMA office says the app also has checklists for preparations and details specific to each kind of event.

Derek Gavey / flickr Creative Commons

Men who work as farmers take their own lives at a rate seven times the national average, according to a new study.

Overall suicide rates have climbed more than 20 percent since the year 2000. According to a preliminary study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farmers, along with fishermen and foresters, make up the group most likely to die by suicide.

Iker Merodio / flickr Creative Commons

Midwest producers eager to get more products into Europe have cause for concern after the UK voted to leave the EU.

U.S. agriculture has had its eyes on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, to loosen up tariffs in the EU on dairy and meat products. Agricultural policy analyst Julian Binfield at the University of Missouri says the momentum created by the recent UK vote--the so-called Brexit--could stymie that deal.

AgriLife Today, flickr Creative Commons

It will soon be a lot easier to fly a drone if you’re a filmmaker, real estate developer - or a farmer. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon has more.

Until now you needed to have a pilot’s license and go through a lengthy bureaucratic process to legally get a drone in the sky. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration has streamlined the process, and lowered the bar to use a drone to survey farm fields or real estate.

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