Food

Food doesn't come from a grocery store. All of our latest stories to help you learn more about where your food comes from.

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Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media file photo

Despite COVID-19 risks and high unemployment rates last year, employers wanted to fill more jobs filled with H-2A guest workers in 2020.

Usually, high unemployment rates decrease the demand for H-2A workers. Diane Charlton, a professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University, says a 1% increase in a state’s unemployment rate is associated with a 5% decrease in demand for H-2A workers, according to a recent study. She says that trend didn't hold up in 2020. 

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to choose Tom Vilsack as the new U.S. secretary of agriculture. 

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, previously served in the position for eight years during the Obama administration. He’s the longest-serving person in the position since Orville Freeman left in 1969. 

Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, likes Vilsack’s years of experience. 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Fifteen Asian-Pacific countries signed a massive trade deal that brings together China, Japan, and South Korea together as trading partners for the first time. The agreement, signed Nov. 15, is one of the largest regional free trade agreements ever penned.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership  excludes the United States and India in a move that some say strengthens China’s global trade standing. Analysts say the deal also expands the China’s ability to buy agricultural commodities from places besides the U.S.

Sean Locke / Digital Planet Design LLC

Many families are heeding the advice of health officials and inviting fewer people to Thanksgiving dinner. The trend has hurt turkey sales, especially for national producers.

But small organic and free-range turkey farmers may be faring better because of a loyal customer base that may be sticking closer to home than usual.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

A joint effort by federal and state governments to help small meatpacking plants increase their capacity is encountering some bumps. 

Earlier this year, COVID-19 outbreaks as large slaughterhouses and meat processing plants led to temporary closures. That resulted in higher prices and meat shortages at grocery stores, which in turn led some consumers to look at local meat from small, mostly rural processing plants.

While that demand was good for the industry, it also overtaxed the small processors’ ability to keep up.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

 

It’s been almost ten months since the signing of the first phase of a trade agreement between the United States and China. In the lofty deal, China pledged to buy an additional $200 billion in goods and services over two years. Since its signing, President Trump has repeatedly touted the deal on the campaign trail, citing its benefits for the agriculture sector in particular.

 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Pork producers in the Midwest had great hope for 2020, in part because China was still rebuilding its swine herd after a devastating African swine fever outbreak. Still, the Sino-American trade war had barely cooled as the Phase 1 deal was signed early in the year, suggesting over-reliance on China could backfire.

 

Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

Pumpkin patches and corn mazes are common on the outskirts of cities, but even more rural areas are getting in on the action. 

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.

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. 

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