Agriculture

Katie Peikes / Harvest Public Media

On a recent hot Saturday morning at the Des Moines Farmers Market, lots of people walked by a tent that had signs hanging from it: “dare to eat differently” and “eat prairie lobster.” Some people scrunched their faces in disgust. Others – like the Gohr family – were curious.

“Should we try a cricket, guys?” Charles Gohr asked his daughters.   


Katie Peikes / Harvest Public Media

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.”  


Carbon Is A New Cash Crop For Some Farmers

Feb 19, 2021
Katie Peikes / Harvest Public Media

There’s been a lot of hype around how farmers can make money from selling the carbon their plants naturally remove from the air, but there are still questions about how much of a difference these markets can make in reducing greenhouse gases.  

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Before June 2018, finding cattle that were potentially exposed to diseases was time-consuming and complicated, requiring a patchwork of information from auction houses, feedlots, producers and meatpacking plants.

That’s when Kansas spearheaded U.S. CattleTrace, filling a void when it comes to tracing deadly diseases in live cattle and possibly opening up new global markets for beef. Nine other states have signed onto the pilot program, which has distributed 65,000 ultra high-frequency tags that are scanned just like your online purchases.

Pat Blank / IPR

Many dairy farmers have struggled in recent years, causing some to rethink their business. One dairy in Iowa is inviting visitors to spend the night in the barn.

It’s fairly easy to find a bed and breakfast somewhere in Iowa that’s housed in a former dairy barn, but New Day Dairy GuestBarn may be one of the very few where you can actually spend the night in a guest room at a working farm overlooking the cows.

courtesy of Christopher Gannon/ISU

Farmers and landowners enrolling acres in the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program have a new practice available to them.

Areas of native grasses and flowers, called prairie strips, have proven helpful in keeping soil in place, preventing nutrients from washing away and increasing the presence of birds and bees.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

At Hummel’s Nissan in Des Moines, Kevin Caldwell sells the all-electric Leaf. Driving one is basically the same as driving a typical gasoline or gas-electric hybrid car, he said, except for a few new features like the semi-autonomous hands-free option. And the fact that you plug it in rather than pumping gas into it.

About a quarter to a third of Caldwell’s Leaf customers are farmers, some of whom grow corn for ethanol.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Fields, crops and farm animals are part of the agriculture-industry landscape, but an increasingly small one.

The number of farm and ranch managers shrunk by about 20 percent between 1996 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At the same time, there are more students graduating from ag colleges, and, in many parts of the country, 80 percent to 90 percent of them find a job (or go for an advanced degree) within a few months of graduating.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House voted down an immigration bill Thursday that would have addressed one of the biggest concerns of American farmers: updating the agriculture guestworker visa program known as H-2A.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

It was an appropriate week for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s trade expert to address a gaggle of Nebraska farmers — even if their responses tended toward frustration.

Ted McKinney arrived in Omaha on Wednesday, the day China threatened to impose tariffs on 106 U.S. products including major exports like soybeans, beef and corn. China’s move came after the Trump administration’s attempt to reign in China’s abuse of intellectual property rules by proposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

If the proposals become reality they could undermine a stagnant farm economy, and not just in Nebraska. “We have bills to pay and debts we must settle and cannot afford to lose any market,” Kansas Farm Bureau President Richard Felts said in a statement.

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