Harvest Public Media

As farms get bigger, must small towns get smaller?

Since the Great Depression, there have been fewer and fewer U.S. farms, thanks to mechanization, hybrid crops and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that have boosted productivity and allowed each farmer to cover more acres. A side effect, says Harvest Public Media, is the draining of the rural population and the drop in demand for services of all sorts - schools, health care, food or equipment - in the small towns across the countryside.

Kansas farmers watch and wait to see what blizzard did to their wheat crop

For wheat farmers in western Kansas, the heavy snow and freezing temperatures that recently swept through their region were a one-two punch that flattened a promising crop.

Avian flu expected back in the fall

This spring the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza epidemic tore through poultry farms across 15 U.S. states, leading to the death of 48 million birds. The bulk of those were egg-laying hens, though turkey production was affected, too.

JBS in deal to buy Cargill’s pork farms and packing plants

The giant Brazilian meatpacker JBS, a relative newcomer to North America, will buy the pork operations of agribusiness rival Cargill for $1.45 billion, the companies announced.

The giant food company you’ve never heard of

By annual sales figures, Brazil-based JBS is one of the largest food companies in the world. The multinational is the world's largest processor of beef, chicken and lamb and is No. 3 in pork.

Obamacare gives farmers options for health insurance

The Affordable Care Act gives farmers more options for health insurance than they had in the past, says Harvest Public Media. Farmers and ranchers traditionally are among the least likely to have insurance...

Organic check-off stirs debate within the industry

"A battle is brewing in the organic food industry," says Harvest Public Media in a story about the expected request for a check-off program for organic products.

A debate on farming’s future in no-corporate-farms Nebraska

For a generation or more, Nebraska has banned corporate farming as a way to protect small operators, says Harvest Public Media, and now the Cornhusker State is "at the center of a debate that gets to the core of what it means to be a farmer."

The beef about the checkoff

David Pfrang and Jim Dobbins, who live in the rolling hills of northeastern Kansas, are "two farmers raising an few cattle and a lot of Cain," says Harvest Public Media in a deep dive into the politics of the beef checkoff program.

Midwest tries to lure dairy farms out of California

While California dairy farms cope with a three-year drought, "states like Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa are pitching themselves as a dairy heaven," says Harvest Public Media.

Welter of state, federal laws chokes growth of hemp research

Nineteen states, from Colorado to Indiana, have approved pilot studies of industrial hemp, says Harvest Public Media, "But hemp is still governed by a network of conflicting federal and state laws.

At a Colorado abbey, llamas guard the cattle

"At the Abbey of St. Walburga, cattle, water buffalo and llamas graze on grass under the watchful eye of Benedictine nuns," says a Harvest Public Media story about nuns and livestock near the Colorado-Wyoming border.

Baa, baa, black sheep, seldom seen anywhere

There are about 1,500 Black Welsh Mountain sheep, a small and completely black sheep breed, in the United States and possibly 10,000 worldwide, says a story at Harvest Public Media.

Women are getting counted as farmers

Sondra Pierce, who grows sugar beets, hay and sunflowers on a Colorado farm, "doesn't look like the average American principal (farm) operator," says Harvest Public Media, but she is emblematic of a change in agriculture and its data-keeping.

“It was difficult, but that’s the life of an immigrant”

Migrant worker Veronica Jarmillo starts work at 7 a.m., picking apples during the two-month harvest season in Missouri, says Harvest Public Media in a story about farm laborers and their vital role in agriculture.

There’s no snag in adding yarn to the “buy local” campaign

Niche marketing to nearby customers is a practical outlet for thousands of smaller-scale farmers. In northwestern Colorado, yarn is being woven into the fabric of local entrepreneurship, says Harvest Public Media.

Picking corn by hand, “a dying art”

U.S. farms are highly mechanized, one of the reasons a comparatively small number of people can produce a torrent of food, feed and fiber. Harvest Public Media went to western Illinois for a contest to harvest corn the old-fashioned way, by hand.