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Katie Peikes / Harvest Public Media

What Caring For Bees Teaches Inmates About Life Beyond Prison

On a hot day in July, Darrell, who is serving time at the Clarinda Correctional Facility, pulled a black carrot out of the ground from one of the prison’s three large gardens. He stared at the carrot in amazement and laughed. “Wow! Look at that,” Darrell said. “Never in life would I ever think that … I only thought carrots were yellow and orange.”

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Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Trees' role in agriculture tend to be viewed as limited to the lumber industry or highly organized orchards to grow fruits, but some farmers are looking to the forest floor to get more people into agriculture, at least part-time. 

Dennis Lindberg’s five acres in southern Missouri don’t look like a farm. Amongst the trees on the sloping ground are smatterings of small, green plants. Those are his crops. 

Purdue University Extension

A fungus that attacks vegetables has shown up early this year, and that could threaten the availability of pumpkin pie filling at Thanksgiving.

Phytophthora blight is a vine infection that can damage vegetables including peppers, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins. It shows up most years, but this summer, heavy rains in late June and early July have made it appear early.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

Updated July 9, 12:09 p.m.: President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make rules to increase competition in the meat industry, according to a White House announcement. 

The new rules are part of 72 initiatives to increase competition in the economy.

Dana Cronin / Harvest Public Media

Millions of rural residents across the Midwest are at risk of nitrate contamination in their drinking water, but they might not know it.

 

Many rural residents get their drinking water from private wells, which are not regulated by state or federal governments. And if residents aren’t regularly testing their well water, they could be at risk of contamination.

 

Dana Cronin / Harvest Public Media

Amid a push from the Biden administration for U.S. agriculture to help slow climate change, a new study shows farmers in the Corn Belt are dropping the ball on adopting a climate-friendly practice.

 

A mountain of research shows the benefits of planting cover crops -- from sequestering carbon from the environment to keeping waterways cleaner. 

 

Katie Piekes / Iowa Public Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday sided with three small oil refineries seeking exemptions from requirements to blend ethanol into their gasoline. The decision overturns an appellate court ruling from last year.

The ruling sets a precedent, giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency more leeway in granting exemptions to oil refineries to rules intended to promote the use of corn-based ethanol and other fuel made from renewable sources. 

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media file photo

As states like Kansas and Oklahoma let their emergency declarations run out, they effectively take a pass on extra federal help with food stamps.

 

Nearly one in five families struggled to afford food at the height of the pandemic. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allotments were maxed out to reduce food insecurity. 

 

Katie Peikes / Iowa Public Radio file photo

The Biden administration plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly over the next decade. Renewable fuels are part of the plan, but some researchers say ethanol doesn’t help that much. The ethanol industry says steps it’s taking could make it more of a player in slowing climate change.  


Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

 

PRATT, Kansas — This summer marks the third year that Kansans have grown hemp for industrial uses.

Yet growing the less sexy cousin of the plant associated with getting high and some medicinal uses has proven riskier and more difficult than many farmers initially expected.

Consequently, the number of licenses issued this year is less than half of what the state saw in 2020.

“There were some misconceptions about the ease of marketability of it,” said Braden Hoch, the state’s industrial hemp program supervisor.

Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

Updated 3:08 p.m., June 11: A federal judge paused the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s debt relief program for farmers of color. The payments are part of the $5 billion set aside in the most recent stimulus bill to support farmers of color. 

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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.

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