farmers

The average American farmer is a white man in his late 50s. Or at least, that's who's in charge of the farm, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But the number of female-run farms has tripled since the 1970s, to nearly 14 percent in 2012. And if you dig a little deeper, you'll find women are showing up in new roles. But because of the way farm businesses are structured, women's work often isn't included in those USDA counts.

'Tis the season to get out the coats, scarves, earmuffs and warm socks. But maybe those socks made from sheep's wool just aren't warm enough? Introducing alpaca fiber or "the fiber of the gods" as the Incans called it. It's a luxury fiber similar to cashmere, but has a hollow core that gives it an extra insulating property, which makes it lighter and warmer. On Sounds Good, we meet Kathy Tinkham of Red Roof Ranch Alpacas in Trigg County and learn how she got into raising alpacas and some of the items in her store that will keep you warm this winter season.

U.S. farmers are bringing in what's expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. But for many farmers, that may be too much of a good thing.

Farmers will haul in 4 billion bushels of soybeans and 14.5 billion bushels of corn, according to USDA estimates. The problem? Demand can't keep up with that monster harvest. Corn and soybean prices have been falling for months. A bushel of corn is now worth under $4 — about half what it was two years ago.

Frank Hennenfent is a typical Illinois farmer. At this time of year, he spends countless hours in an air-conditioned, GPS-equipped combine – an enormous machine that can harvest as many as 12 rows of corn at a time.

But in late September, Hennenfent was going back to the basics. He was a top competitor at the 34th annual Illinois State Corn Husking Competition.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture carries out a census of farmers: who they are, and what they are doing on their farms.

The agency just released the latest one, and it's a feast for all ag geeks. And here's the very first, most basic piece of new information: There are 2,109,303 farmers in this country.

But look a little closer at that number, and you can see that it's not quite what it seems. Most of those farmers are not actually making a living by farming.

Murray's Downtown Saturday Market on the court square opens for the season May 17, featuring dozens of vendors selling locally grown vegetables, meats, bread, hand-made soaps, crafts and more. Erin Carrico, Autumn Denton and Mark Welch join Kate Lochte on Sounds Good for a preview of what's to come to this year's market.

News of the partial government shutdown has overshadowed the October first expiration of the Farm Bill, which sets the nation’s policies on farming and nutrition. 

Calloway County Dairy farmer Jim Stahler said he believes most Kentucky farmers continue their daily operations. He said if one aspect of the Farm Bill is not addressed before the end of the year it will affect people’s pocketbooks more than farmers’ operations.

From NPR: Many fruit and nut farmers rely on honeybee hives to pollinate and continue growing their crop, but the honeybees just can’t do the work by themselves anymore. They need the help of other wild bees to get the job done. Those other bees, though, are disappearing, and it’s puzzling scientists.

Sorghum Making Comeback to Rivers Region

Feb 8, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

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When most people think of sorghum they think of sorghum molasses, a contemporary of modern day maple syrup. But recent breakthroughs are changing sorghum’s role as a pancake sweetener.

Calloway County Farmer Trip Furches leans forward in his office chair as he explains why last year was the first time he planted energy sorghum and sweet sorghum.

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Tennessee farmers may be lamenting losses to the corn harvest resulting from this summer’s drought, but midsummer rains have saved most of their other crops. Cotton is expected to bring in some of the best per-acre yields. Farmer Willis Jepson says soybeans made 55 bushels per acre. That’s 15 more than usual. But his farm still lost $500,000  in corn.

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