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Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

Why Even Corn Can Get A Bad Night Of Sleep

In 2020, a stubborn enemy emerged for corn farmers across the Great Plains: drought. Today, about half of the U.S. is in drought , with large swaths of Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois impacted. A little dry or warm weather can be a boon for getting work done on the farm. Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the U.S. National Drought Center, says, for example, farmers in many pockets of the region enjoyed a rainless, temperate September, allowing them to finish harvest in record time...

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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. 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

First restaurants and school cafeterias closed, then COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-packing plants slowed processing. In the spring, shoppers started seeing signs declaring limits on the amount of fresh meat they could buy in one trip. Prices for some products crept up. 

Ed Koger

Lesser prairie chickens don’t really bother Mike McCarty. He likes them just fine, but doesn’t think people understand how hard it is to balance wildlife conservation and being a rancher and farmer in southwest Kansas.

“Yes, we need to protect our wildlife and everything,” he says, “but we also need to protect our people, our agriculture.”

Dana Cronin/Harvest Public Media

 

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin last week, President Trump announced U.S. farmers will receive an additional $14 billion in coronavirus relief aid.

 

This second round of relief aid builds on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program launched in April to allocate $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers. 

 

However, the initial round of CFAP still has $6 billion unpaid dollars in the pot.

 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Dairy Farmers want U.S. trade policy to focus on opening markets and fending off competition from the European Union and New Zealand.

U.S. dairy exports were up about 10% in the first half of 2020 compared to last year. But that’s not enough to return the sector to profitability, according to dairy farmers and producers that are participating in a series of virtual town hall meetings on trade issues.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

As the new school year gets underway, some students are in classrooms and others are at home but one thing is now clear: all kids can get free school meals. That’s because the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program, has extended the pandemic provisions it introduced last spring, which include eliminating the requirement that families apply for reduced-fees or free meals. 

Courtesy of Katie Plohocky

While COVID-19 has hampered farmers this year by forcing many farmers markets and restaurants to close, usually it’s the weather that threatens crops. A practice called “gleaning” helps save crops from going to waste while feeding those in need. 

Heavy rain was causing flooding all along the Arkansas River. Before Joe Tierney knew it, water from the nearby creek was creeping forward onto his farm in Bixby, Oklahoma. He had to evacuate, leaving behind fields full of vegetables. All Tierney could do was watch the water get closer and closer, he says.

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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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