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Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

What's Open, What's On Hold For Food And Ag During The Government Shutdown

The long tentacles of the partial federal government shutdown are reaching especially deep into food and agriculture. Here’s an update on some of the impacts now four weeks into the longest shutdown in history.

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A federal judge in Iowa says it's no longer a crime to go undercover at factory farms, slaughterhouses and any other ag-related operations. The 2012 law was a clear violation of the First Amendment, the judge said.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case, called the ruling "a win for free speech and animal protection."

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

For crop farmers, winter is the offseason. But that doesn’t mean they take the winter off. It’s meeting season — going to endless seminars or having discussions about better ways to farm — and planning season.

Planning may seem like it would be a challenge given the trade uncertainties, including the tariff war with China. 

Claire Benjamin/RIPE Project

Plants are good at what they do — turning sunlight into food. However, some researchers have found the leaf world could improve, and that could have a major effect on the world’s growing population.

USDA.gov

The ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government, now into its third week, is reaching ever deeper into the lives of people far from the Washington, D.C., epicenter.

U.S. Senator Who Helped Shape 8 Farm Bills Won't Run For Re-Election In 2020

Jan 4, 2019
Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has ended the talk — and there's been a lot of it — about his political future. The senior senator from Kansas announced in Manhattan on Friday that he won’t be campaigning for a fifth term.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media file photo

Hardly a week went by in 2018 where there wasn’t some kind of breaking agriculture, food or rural news. It was the year of the farm bill, a trade war and several food recalls.

But Harvest Public Media reporters found places to revel in some fun, too. Here are some of our favorite stories from the last 12 months.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

After a year that saw persistently low prices for many agricultural products — exacerbated by the retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. goods — farmers are eager for a recovery in 2019.

Pork producers have been working within the trade-war parameters since China imposed a hefty tariff in April. Northeast Iowa pig farmer Al Wulfkuhle said the sudden drop in Chinese demand for U.S. pork turned what had started as a promising year into a challenging one.

Dicamba-resistant soybeans sit in a field in rural McLean County, Illinois, in August.
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting file photo

Dicamba, the controversial herbicide used on soybeans and cotton, is responsible for thousands of acres of damaged crops in recent years.

Experts say that despite new federal rules that go into effect in 2019, the drift will continue but the victims will be different.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media file photo

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that only foods containing detectable genetic material should be considered as bioengineered or genetically modified (GMO).

The USDA was tasked with deciding if refined products, like soybean oil and corn sweeteners, should be considered a GMO food. It said they are not, which is a victory for sugar beet farmers.

Kristen Kunau

Compared to the 89 millions acres of soybean in the U.S., the hemp industry is still meager at 25,000 acres, but experts expect that will quickly change now that President Donald Trump has signed the 2018 farm bill.

That’s because after nearly a century of heavy state and federal restrictions, hemp has been removed from the list of controlled substance and reclassified as an agricultural commodity — one that a burgeoning market has its eyes on.

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