Our Impact

Drought-Stricken Indian Village Serves as Farming Model

In "The resurrection of Hiware Bazar," published with Grist, Puja Changoiwala explains how in the 1980s, the Indian village of Hiware Bazar had collapsed—ecologically, economically and spiritually. But today it is seen as a model for solving the nation’s farmer suicide crisis.

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Long-Standing Water Access Issues Linked to Decades of Racist Policies

Teresa Cotsirilos' story, "For one historically Black California town, a century of water access denied," published with California Report, describes how drought has exacerbated long-standing water access issues that in many Central Valley communities can be traced back to decades of neglect and racist policies. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Allensworth. But the town is fighting back, coming up with ways to tap sustainable, clean drinking water supplies, creating a potential model for others to follow.

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Overfishing Threatens an Alaskan Ecosystem and Culture

In "Alaska’s herring row," published with The Nation, Brent Simpson details how herring is a tiny fish central to Tlingit culture and to sustainable ecosystems. But overfishing is threatening both.

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Changing Climate Causing Concern for a Citrus-Growing Icon

In “Is the Ojai Pixie dust?,” published with KQED's California Report, Lisa Morehouse explains that an ideal climate is what made California's Ojai Valley known for its Ojai Pixie tangerine. But now that climate is changing, and farmers are worried about the future of agriculture in the valley.

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Why Pricey Scallops Couldn’t Save a Mexican Fishing Village

In “White gold fever,” an audio story produced with Snap Judgment, Esther Honig details how the discovery of a massive bed of callo de hacha, a prized scallop, could have saved a struggling Mexican fishing village. But it didn't work out that way.

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How Carbon Pipelines are Provoking Complicated Conversations

In “The great carbon-capture debate,” a FERN exclusive, Nancy Averett details the anger and fear felt by farmers and environmentalists because of Iowa's proposed carbon dioxide pipelines. And explains that even beyond that, a central question looms: Are the pipelines a legitimate piece in the climate solution puzzle, or just a windfall for agribusiness? Finding the answer is crucial because the planet’s temperature is rising, and government incentives for ethanol pipelines are time limited.

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FERN Explains How Climate Adaptation in Bangladesh Went Bad

In "When climate adaptation goes wrong," published with The Guardian, Stephen Rober Miller details how in Bangladesh, rising waters ruined farmers' rice fields, so they switched to shrimp — and that's when troubles mounted.

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We Investigate How Feds are Failing to Protect Farmworkers From Heat

In “As heat rises, who will protect farmworkers?,” a FERN exclusive, Bridget Huber, Nancy Averett and Teresa Cotsirilos explain that though heat-related illness and death are a growing problem in U.S. agriculture, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration still hasn't established national safety guidelines.

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A Look at What’s Behind the Great Pollen Meltdown

In “The great pollen meltdown,” published with Yale Environment 360, Carolyn Beans explains how heat is a pollen killer. Even with adequate water, heat can damage pollen and prevent fertilization in canola and many other crops, including corn, peanuts, and rice.

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Controlled Burns Creating Critical Solutions

In “The return of ‘good fire’ to eastern U.S. forests and grasslands,” published with Yale Environment 360, Gabriel Popkin describes how advocates support controlled burns as part of a critical solution to a range of problems, from biodiversity loss to wildfire risk to climate change. But first, they must overcome government regulations and a long-held view of fire as unnatural and threatening.

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FERN Digs into the Climate-Friendly Status of the Wood-Pellet Industry

In “The controversial biofuel threatening British Columbia’s forests,” published with The Walrus, Brian Barth explores the province's booming wood-pellet industry, which is causing worry that old-growth ecosystems will be pushed to the brink.

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We Look at How a Tire Company Hopes To Help Arizona Farmers Thrive

In, “What should desert farmers grow?,” published with Mother Jones, Stephen Robert Miller describes how a Japanese rubber company plans to persuade Arizona farmers to grow a latex-producing crop that’s adapted to desert conditions. That wonder plant is called guayale (pronounced why-oo-lee) and the company is Bridgestone, who says it has made significant genetic breakthroughs in the crop since it originally began being grown in the U.S. in the 1920s.

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FERN Digs into a Long Running-Dispute on Water Management

In “Epic floods in Pacific Northwest revive long-running dispute over how to manage a river,” published with Mother Jones, Teresa Cotsirilos, details how climate change has caused the water levels of rivers like the Nooksack to become erratic and less predictable. Farmers want regular dredging and aggressive flood-control measures in place, but Indigenous groups and scientists say that will doom the endangered Chinook salmon and could be disastrous to a river on the verge of ecosystem collapse.

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We Show How a Regional Network of Farmers Plans to Push out Big Ag

In “The collective future of American agriculture,” published with The Nation, Dean Kuipers describes how pandemic-driven shortages gave fresh relevance to co-ops, hubs and other forms of collective agriculture. And with a trust-buster in the White House and a current of defiance coursing through the workforce, a new patchwork has a shot at becoming a viable alternative to Big Ag.

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We Look At Why a Bioenergy Build-Out Is Stirring Controversy in the Chesapeake Bay Region

In “Biogas from America’s favorite meat: pollution solution or a prop for poultry?,” Leanna First-Arai takes us to the top chicken-cultivating county in the United States. On the Delmarva Peninsula — which stretches down the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay through Delaware, Maryland, and a small portion of Virginia — plants owned by Amick Farms, Mountaire Farms, and Perdue, among other corporations, process more than 600 million broilers a year.

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A Program That Puts Farmworkers’ Lives on the Line

In “The farmworkers in California’s fire zones,” published with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, Teresa Cotsirilos explains that when wildfires forced thousands of Californians to evacuate, a little-known 'ag pass' program let employers keep farmworkers on the job.

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FERN Travels to Brazil to Report on Beef and Deforestation

In “Brazil’s Amazon beef plan will ‘legalize deforestation’ say critics,” published with The Guardian, Brian Barth and Flávia Milhorance explain that the beef industry’s hopes for a planned deforestation-free farming zone will tempt buyers back, but many fear it will drive up illegal clearing in the Amazon.

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How Climate Change is Behind Bristol Bay’s Salmon Boom

In “One Alaska bay is booming with salmon, for now,” published with The Atlantic, Miranda Weiss describes how scientists believe that climate change is boosting salmon numbers in Bristol Bay, even as warming temperatures and other factors seem to be driving the fish to extinction elsewhere. But even as more salmon are returning to Bristol Bay, some fishermen still worry that it might be time for a bust.

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