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  • U.S. organic food sales topped $35 billion in 2013. (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

    A "checkoff" fund would create marketing and research for the organic food industry. But some farmers object to paying into a fund they say may be contrary to their own interests.

  • Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., makes everything from organic cake mixes and cornbread, to pizza and burritos. Any time something with meat is being made, a USDA inspector has to be called ahead of time. (Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

    More than a dozen federal agencies play a part in keeping food from making Americans sick. Critics say the system has holes, and some think we would all be safer if food safety at the federal level was brought under one roof.

  • Most states in the Midwest now allow meatpacking companies to own hogs and contract with farmers to house and feed them. Nebraska is one of the last states to prohibit the practice as a way to protect family farms. (Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

    In the top pork producing states, many farmers are under contract with giant meatpackers like Tyson or Smithfield Foods. The packers actually own the pigs and pay the farmers to raise them. Nebraska is one of the last states to still prohibit meatpackers from owning livestock. 

  • Chuck Earnest, of southeast Missouri, says he and other farmers in the U.S. would benefit greatly from more international trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership. (Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media)

    The Trans Pacific Partnership could boost the U.S. agriculture industry by $3 billion. Many farmers and ranchers stateside are eager to see tariffs in countries like Japan, which have been notoriously expensive export markets.

  • Laying hens flock to the oats Matt Russell tosses to them at Coyote Run Farm in Marion County, Iowa. In addition to eggs, the farm produces beef and vegetables and is home to horses, mules, a donkey, a dog and several cats. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

    Is it rural legend? Or is it true? Some have complained that the government pays farmers not to farm. It’s actually a complicated program sought by sustainable agriculture advocates.

Welcome to Harvest Public Media

Once a staple, lamb has largely been pushed off the American dinner table. To put it back on the menu, ranchers and retailers are being encouraged to reach out to a more diverse set of consumers.

Farmers burn their fields to remove plants that are already growing and to help the plants that are about to come up. These burns are often called “prescribed burns” because they are used to improve the health of the field.

In 2013, China discovered in U.S. corn a genetically engineered trait that, although permitted in the U.S., had not yet been approved in China. Chinese regulators rejected American corn because some of it contained the trait.

While the beef industry has gone to great lengths to limit illnesses in meat, the industry has been slow to adopt an E. coli vaccine that could keep people from getting sick.

Big farms are collecting taxpayer dollars that they haven’t necessarily earned by taking advantage of a loophole in government subsidy rules, according to regulators, members of Congress and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Midwest farmers and ranchers see communist Cuba as an untapped market for goods from the American Heartland.

As food hubs and farmers markets spring up in urban areas, the local food economy has been slower to take off in much of the rural Rocky Mountain West.

Doctors want to understand why cancer is more likely to be fatal for rural residents than most city residents.

 Before the Affordable Care Act, farmers and ranchers were more likely to be uninsured than many other occupational groups. But that may be changing.

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