farming

Rhonda Miller, WKYU

Migrant workers who come to Kentucky under the H2A visa program are a critical part of the agricultural workforce. The Bluegrass State ranks seventh among the 50 states for the number farm workers who come under this visa, according to the Office of Foreign Labor Certification. Phil and Jan Holliday's farm in Logan County has two workers from Mexico who have been coming for more than two decades, and they’re bringing the next generation.      

A federal judge has ruled Utah's ban on secretly filming farm and slaughterhouse operations is unconstitutional, striking down what critics call an "ag-gag" law that Utah enacted in 2012.

The ban violates the First Amendment's free-speech protections, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby said.

Shelby rejected the state's defense of the law, saying Utah had failed to show the ban was intended to ensure the safety of animals and farm workers from disease or injury.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

The acres devoted to growing hops doubled in the U.S. in just the last five years and the trade group Hop Growers of America estimates that 95 percent of that market belongs to farmers along the West Coast. But the craft beer craze is changing the direction for hop farms by generating demand for more locally sourced ingredients, and Ohio Valley farmers like Wes Cole want in on the action.

As a group of visiting scientists prepared to board a plane in Hawaii that would take them back home to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage. Those seeds are likely to land at least one scientist in federal prison.

Neil Shook was relaxing at home in Woodworth, N.D., on a Saturday afternoon just over a week ago.

"My wife was outside and she yelled at me to come outside and take a look at this," he recalls.

A massive brown cloud covered the horizon to the west. It was a dust storm — although Shook, who's a scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, doesn't like to call it dust. "I like to refer to it as soil, because that's basically what it is," he says. "We saw this huge soil cloud moving from west to east across the landscape."

Courtesy Jeanna Glisson, cropped

Farms can be peaceful but they are also among the most dangerous places to work. In a five year period more than 170 people were killed in agriculture-related accidents in the Ohio Valley region. Yet safety regulators are often limited in what they can do on farms. Nicole Erwin of the Ohio Valley ReSource reports on efforts to reduce the growing hazards.

The numbers are out — and they confirm what we've been hearing from farmers and immigration lawyers. More and more farmers are turning to foreign "guest workers" to plant and harvest the country's crops.

The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

Nicole Erwin | Ohio Valley ReSource

While exact statistics are unknown, it’s estimated that about 60 percent of farmworkers in the United States are undocumented immigrants. But amid growing labor shortages in large agricultural states and President Donald Trump’s promise to assemble a “deportation task force,” farmers nationwide have voiced concerns that stricter immigration laws could break the backbone of America’s agricultural economy.

The 700 cows on Brett Reinford's dairy farm are making more than just milk.

Each day, the girls are producing 7,000 gallons of manure. And that smells exactly like you'd imagine. "We had gotten complaints from neighbors in the past that had said, 'Hey, it stinks too much. Can you do something about it?' " Reinford says.

So he looked around for a solution and landed on a device called a digester. A digester tamps down the smell a bit, but, more importantly, it takes all that cow poop and converts it to electricity.

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