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

Thursday was a somber day at the Cockfighting Club of San Juan.

The rows and rows of cubbies that usually house up to 80 roosters waiting to fight were mostly empty. On this day, only 26 birds were on display.

Miguel Ortiz, a regular at the club since it opened in 1954, said a lot of people had stayed home, depressed.

"It's because of the law that passed in the Congress," he said.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

A stand of trees in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri looks a little more sparse than what is often depicted in a forest.

The trees are eight to ten feet apart, and that’s on purpose, fire management officer Greg Painter said.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In a lab at George Washington University, painted lady butterflies flutter in mesh houses. This is where assistant professor Arnault Martin and his research group use the new gene-editing technique CRISPR to unlock secrets about the colors and spots on the butterflies’ wings.

CRISPR has allowed them to isolate a precise gene that controls wing appearance, and they can shut it off at will.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Updated at 11 a.m. Nov. 26 with a correction — A southeastern Missouri cotton and soybean farmer has the distinction of being the first person in the United States to face federal charges over alleged dicamba misuse.

USDA's Rural Broadband Plan Met With Citizen Criticism, Concerns

Nov 21, 2018
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Slow speeds, bad coverage and expensive service: These are just some of the concerns contained in nearly 300 public comments on Rural Broadband Pilot Program proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a review by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers know every year they’re going to encounter surprises from things out of their control, like drought or pests.

This year, great growing conditions led to a bin-busting soybean harvest, but a tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs with China meant that country went from being a major buyer to virtually ignoring U.S. soybeans.

Farmer Art Tanderup holds a handful of the sandy soil found on his farm. "There are times when you feel like you're in a blizzard when that sand is blowing," Tanderup says.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

Forecasters say the El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean should lead to slightly warmer and wetter conditions across the Midwest this winter. That’s good news for some farmers who struggled with drought over the summer.

Cargill

Brad Churchill, a slaughter operations manager at Cargill Meat Solutions, has worked in the cattle industry for more than 30 years. He’s seen many employees injured by cattle.

“A young man did nothing to provoke this 1,600-pound angus steer who turned on him in an instant,” Churchill said of one incident last year. The man crawled through an escape hatch and only had a dislocated shoulder and few fractured ribs.

Cattle gather for a drink on a ranch in Nebraska. Some cattle producer say meatpacking companies have too much control over the market and the USDA needs stronger rules to ensure fair access.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

For the first time in seven years, rural America’s population is growing.

The annual U.S. Department of Agriculture report “Rural America at a Glance” found the increase — only 0.08 percent — mainly in scenic rural areas like the Rocky Mountains, more densely populated rural areas and rural communities that are within about an hour’s drive of a major city. Essentially, places where people still have access to urban amenities or can go hiking, biking, fishing or skiing.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

The high-desert town of Palisade, Colorado, is synonymous with fresh, locally grown peaches. Years ago, thousands of migrant workers would flock here each year in August to harvest the fuzzy fruit. But today, on its narrow dirt roads, Bruce Talbott drives a truck loaded down with 9 tons of wine grapes.

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