farming

Health Insurance Woes Add To The Risky Business Of Farming

Feb 21, 2017

There are many challenges to farming for a living: It's often grueling work that relies on unpredictable factors such as weather and global market prices. But one aspect that's often ignored is the cost of health care.

A University of Vermont researcher found that nationally, most farmers cited health care costs as a top concern.

On a clear, cold winter evening, the sun begins to set at Lost Lake Farm near Jewell, Iowa, and Kevin Dietzel calls his 15 dairy cows to come home.

"Come on!" he hollers in a singsong voice. "Come on!"

Brown Swiss cows and black Normandy cows trot across the frozen field and, in groups of four, are ushered into the small milking parlor.

Garland Reiter is one of the people behind the rise in imported food from Mexico.

His family has been growing strawberries in California for generations and selling them under the name Driscoll's. Today, it's the biggest berry producer in the world.

You want to find pigs? Go to Iowa.

It's the largest pork producer in the country. The ratio of pigs to people in Iowa is about 7 to 1.

I've had a hankering to spend some time on a farm for my series "Our Land." Over the next few months, I'll be out on a road trip, visiting communities large and small, and talking with people about what's important in their lives.

So with farming in mind, off to Iowa we went — to Buchanan County in northeastern Iowa.

Tom Coleman is busy pruning branches off pistachio trees that aren't budding at an orchard just north of Fresno, Calif. He farms and manages more than 8,000 acres of pistachios across the state.

"Here's an example of some hanging down nuts from last year that just wouldn't come off because of the position on the tree, so we want to remove that," says Coleman.

Nicole Erwin | Ohio Valley ReSource

A death in a Nevada hospital made national headlines this month because the patient’s infection could not be treated with any of the antibiotics doctors usually rely on. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. Part of the solution could come from farms. Starting this month a new rule limits the antibiotics used on livestock. Ohio Valley ReSource agriculture reporter Nicole Erwin and WFPL’s health reporter Lisa Gillespie teamed up to learn more about this effort to stop “superbugs.”

It took years of heated debate, but the federal government has finally decided just how much living space an organic chicken should have.

It's part of a new set of rules that cover many aspects of animal welfare in the organic food industry. But the biggest impact of the rule will be felt in the organic egg industry.

Why America Is Growing The Most Sweet Potatoes Since WWII

Jan 19, 2017

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II.

War Effort

"A lot of things were hard to get during World War II, and potatoes were easier to raise than some of the other vegetables," my grandmother Joyce Heise tells me.

In Weathersfield, Vt., a town once dotted with small milking farms, about 60 cows peacefully chew hay at their home on Fuller Farm. They are the last remaining dairy herd in Weathersfield, and they'll be auctioned off this week. This is a growing trend in the changing dairy industry — in the state and beyond.

Let's say you're a farmer in the Midwest, growing conventional corn and soybeans. Times are tough right now. Prices are in the toilet.

If only you were selling organic soybeans and corn. They're worth almost twice as much, per bushel, as your conventional crops.

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