Farm Bill 2018

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.

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.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Updated at 3 p.m. Dec. 20 with Trump signing legislation — The long-awaited final version of the farm bill was unveiled Monday night, and it hews somewhat closely to the previous piece of massive legislation — aside from legalizing hemp on a national level. 

Thursday was a somber day at the Cockfighting Club of San Juan.

The rows and rows of cubbies that usually house up to 80 roosters waiting to fight were mostly empty. On this day, only 26 birds were on display.

Miguel Ortiz, a regular at the club since it opened in 1954, said a lot of people had stayed home, depressed.

"It's because of the law that passed in the Congress," he said.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media file photo

After 10 years of consistent gains, the number of immigrant families enrolled in SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, fell by 10 percent in 2018.

New, preliminary research presented this month at the American Public Health Association conference showed the drop was highest for for families who had been in the U.S for fewer than five years. It’s a reflection of what Harvest Public Media and other outlets reported earlier this year: that some families are choosing not to participate in federal benefit programs out of fear it could impact their immigration status.

Luis Pinto lost about $300,000 worth of plantain trees, livestock, roads and fences on his farm near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. "When I saw the desctruction, I just cried. But I said, 'The show must go on,'" he says.
Allison Keyes / NET Nebraska/FERN

One year ago, Hurricane Maria swept over Puerto Rico, bringing 150 mph winds. Nearly 3,000 people died, homes and buildings were ruined and farms were destroyed all over the U.S. territory.

According to Luis Pinto, a farmer near Yabucoa, southeast of the capital San Juan, the sound of the wind screaming through the trees “felt like the hurricane was crying.” Plantain trees were flattened on Pinto’s farm. In all, the storms caused $300,000 in damage to his crops, cattle, fences and roads.

U.S. House Ag Committee

Congress has spent weeks trying to meld the House and Senate versions of the next farm bill into one agreeable piece of legislation.

Left in the balance is the current farm bill, which will expire Sept. 30 without an extension.

On The Table: A Farm Bill Podcast From Harvest Partner NET News

Aug 3, 2018

Maybe you're following the 2018 farm bill intently. Maybe you have no idea what the farm bill is.

NET News and Harvest Public Media reporter Grant Gerlock have a podcast that'll explain things, no matter your familiarity.

Stream it on Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes, and watch for more episodes in the coming weeks.

A Nebraska researcher examines experimental wheat grown in a greenhouse.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

Scientific research could deliver transformative technologies to the food system over the next decade, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Advances in things like gene editing, data sharing and microbiology could make crops more resilient to climate change and livestock more environmentally sustainable.

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