In The Field

A western Illinois farmer harvests corn.
Credit Abby Wendle / File: Harvest Public Media

The people and places that make our food system go.

Ways to Connect

When Uhunoma Amayo found out his science experiment was one of just 34 selected to be carried out this spring on the International Space Station, he was shocked.

"They pulled me out of class," says Amayo, a seventh-grader at Coronado Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. "I was dumbfounded."

Amayo is one of four students at Coronado who designed the experiment, which will explore whether mint grows as well in orbit as it does here on earth.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

After more than 20 years, an early tool of genetic engineering in crops is doing more than just killing pests. It’s providing environmental benefits, too, according to a new study in the journal Biological Control.

Joanthan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

In theory, closing off China’s soybean market due to the trade dispute with the U.S. on top of generally low prices for the commodity should affect all industry players, big to small. Agriculture economist Pat Westhoff begged to differ.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. trade war with China has created a financial burden for farmers and companies that import Chinese goods. Consumers, on the other hand, have mostly been spared from the conflict.

That could all change if this month’s negotiations between the U.S. and China don’t go well.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In January 2018, a handful of farmers at a major Iowa pork industry gathering attended a session on the threat of foreign animal diseases. A year later, several dozen people showed up, spurred by the march of African swine fever across China.

“This risk of African swine fever is real,” veterinarian Craig Rowles told the crowd at the Iowa Pork Congress. “And as producers, we need to be very cognizant of that.”

Joanthan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Swiss Meat and Sausage has been butchering animals and selling meats in a small, unincorporated east-central Missouri town for 50 years. Co-owner Janice Thomas wants to expand, and to do that, she’ll need more business from out-of-town customers.

“If there is one place that has some room, it’s with our online ordering,” she said.

The community of Swiss has minimal internet access: It’s not high speed, and it’s unreliable.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / Harvest Public Media file photo

The partial government shutdown is playing out differently for the nation’s top food safety regulators.

At the Food and Drug Administration, fewer than half of the usual number of food safety inspectors are visiting produce farms and food-packaging plants around the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has kept more than 8,000 workers — about 90 percent of its food inspection staff — on the job at livestock slaughter plants without pay.

Study: Climate Change Will Affect Soybeans In 2 Ways That Cancel Each Other Out

Jan 24, 2019
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels could have opposing effects on nutrients in soybeans, according to a new study.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Updated Jan. 22 with Farm Service Agency reopening — The long tentacles of the partial federal government shutdown are reaching especially deep into food and agriculture. Here’s an update on some of the impacts now four weeks into the longest shutdown in history.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

More than 240,000 guestworkers, many from Mexico, work on U.S. farms for several months each year as a part of the federal H-2A visa program. This year, farmers and industry associations worry the ongoing government shutdown could impede the workers’ arrival.

But the visa program, which is overseen by no fewer than three U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, is unimpeded. That’s according to officials from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification and United States Citizen and Immigration Services. Both of those agencies are fully funded.

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