Top Stories

Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

'Our Heart Is In It:' Black Farmers Work To Keep Ancestral Legacy Alive

For Nathan Bradford Jr., work doesn’t end after his full-time job. When he’s not working at a natural gas processing plant, he’s ranching in Bristow, Oklahoma. “If I’m off and I’m not on the ranch, I’m probably sick,” Bradford says. His day usually starts around 4:30 a.m., working the cattle and maintaining the plots of land he inherited from his ancestors. He calls his business G Line Meats in honor of his ancestors who moved from Georgia to farm. As Bradford drives to the 80 acres of land...

Read More
Michael Leland / Iowa Public Radio file photo

Farmers are wrapping up the harvest in much of the Corn Belt and finally seeing how much they can get out of derecho-damaged fields. The August windstorm slammed 3.6 million acres of corn in Iowa alone, leaving some stalks almost flat on the ground and many others standing with a pronounced tilt.

At the time, agronomists said the angle of damage would influence whether the grain could be harvested and they couldn’t predict how much the injured plants would yield. 

United States Drought Monitor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Much of the Great Plains is experiencing drought: So far, at least half of Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa, and Oklahoma are abnormally dry, with large areas experiencing severe drought.

Dana Cronin

 

On the outskirts of Rantoul, in east-central Illinois, about 100 migrant farmworkers are living at an old hotel in a sleepy part of town.

 

Every day at the crack of dawn, Samuel Gomez and the rest of the crew get their temperatures checked on the way out the door. Most workers, donning masks, load onto a big yellow school bus for a 30-minute drive to a large warehouse, where they will spend the day sorting corn coming in on large conveyor belts.

 

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

The U-S Department of Agriculture is projecting farm income will increase significantly this year, but that’s only because of an unprecedented amount of government payments that could top $40 billion.

The latest Farm Income Report from the USDA shows net farm will total $102 billion, a 23% increase over last year. But 36% of that money is coming from federal subsidies intended to make up for coronavirus losses.

Without that aid, net farm income would be down more than $10 billion this year.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Farmers are looking closely at what they might be able to expect from four more years of Donald Trump versus a Joe Biden administration, but they aren't finding a lot of solid answers. And any difference may not matter, anyway.

To evaluate Donald Trump’s agriculture position, the best evidence is his actions and policies over the past 3 1/2 years. 

The highlight of that time has been creating a series of tariffs that has led to retaliation and a trade war with China and other countries, largely hurting foreign markets for farmers.

Christina Stella / Harvest Public Media

So far, 2020 has not been kind to beef producers. Farmers and economists say the food system fielded a one-two punch that triggered huge market disruptions and losses. 

 

When the pandemic closed restaurants and schools, which account for a little over half of food prepared in the U.S., demand shifted, sending cattle prices tumbling even as shoppers were stocking up. And after COVID-19 closed some of beef’s big-name meatpacking plants, cattle sales slowed and farmers found themselves forced to feed cattle for longer than planned.

Dana Cronin

In the midst of what has otherwise been a heavy, unrelenting year, many Midwesterners have found solace in the dirt.

 

So-called “COVID gardens” have popped up all over the country since the beginning of the pandemic with more people working from home and becoming self-reliant in the wake of food supply disruptions.

The Census Bureau is working to count every household in the U.S., but response rates--especially in rural areas--are lagging behind 2010. Lower self-response rates could risk inaccurate counts. 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the South were paid more on average than those in the Midwest and Great Plains from a government program set up to offset the losses due to the trade war with China, according to a new study from the Government Accountability Office.

After China placed retaliatory tariffs on crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture created the Market Facilitation Program to help farmers make up the lost income. 

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

As workplaces and schools go online to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many people are relying on a strong internet connection. But in some states, less than 50% of rural households have access to broadband, according to data from the Federal Communications Commission. 

Pages

Change At The Climate Divide

Farms and communities are struggling to adapt as climate change has moved the line dividing the arid west and the rain-soaked east.

Follow Harvest Public Media on Twitter