farming | KCUR

farming

Michael McEnany always knew he wanted to be a farmer. Both of his grandfathers were, and he “always loved tagging along with my Grandpa Ed.”

Both of his parents chose ag-related careers, but neither of them went back to the farms they’d grown up on. Still, McEnany’s done nothing but farm for more than a decade. Starting part-time in college, he worked his way up to a full-time, year-round job on Steve Henry’s corn and soybean operation in Nevada, Iowa.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Segment 1: Proposed work requirements for some public food assistance is ruffling feathers.

While senators and House members in Washington struggle to find the compromises that could turn this year's version of the farm bill into law, millions of stakeholders await a solution. Today, we got an update from Harvest Public Media on how the negotiations, and their eventual outcomes, could affect city- and country-dwellers across the Midwest.

Segment 1: The average age of the U.S. farmer is 60. Who will step up to feed America?

A recent documentary looks at the challenges the next generation of farmers in America are experiencing.

Attercop311 / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: Kansas farmers hope to boost agricultural economy with new cash crop.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer in April signed off on a bill that included the Alternative Crop Research Act, which effectively allows the Kansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the cultivation of industrial hemp. Although hemp is famously difficult to maintain, both seasoned and novice Kansas farmers are eager to cash in on one of the most lucrative crops in American history.

Experts: Missouri’s Widespread Drought Expected to Get Worse

Jul 26, 2018
U.S. Drought Monitor

Missouri officials considered ways to step up drought response Thursday, the same day the U.S. Drought Monitor said more than 2.5 million people are being affected by the conditions.

Horace Patterson / LaBudde Special Collections

Segment 1: Lone Jack animal feed operation expansion concerns Powell Gardens.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

The Canadian consul general to the Midwest is urging Missouri farmers to voice their support for renegotiating the North American Free-Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Updated June 19, 2018 — Valley Oaks Steak Company obtained a necessary water permit to expand its cattle feedlot and meatpacking business from fewer than 1,000 cows to nearly 7,000 cows.

The feedlot is near the town of Lone Jack and Kansas City's closest botanical garden, Powell Gardens, and the proposed expansion has raised the ire of thousands of people in the area who are concerned about water and air quality issues.

Segment 1: How a sea voyage inspired a fashion collection.

Her grandparents immigrated to America from England in the hull of a ship. Hear how that journey helped inspire a collection at this year's West 18th Street Fashion Show.

  • Amani Skalacki, jewelry designer/stylist

West 18th Street Fashion Show, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 9 on West 18th Street between Baltimore and Wyandotte Streets, Kansas City, Missouri 64108.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Two of the nation’s most influential players in agriculture policy, at a meeting in the heart of the country’s Grain Belt on Wednesday, tried to ease worries about the pending farm bill and a budding trade war with China.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

As a kid growing up on his family’s farm in Louisburg, Kansas, David Wayne Reed just wanted to perform.

He wore his mom’s heels, a cinched-up shirt as a dress, and a wig to entertain visiting seed salesmen. He also choreographed dances for the hay crew.

“As kind of a slightly effeminate little kid, (farming) was hard, it was masculine, and I didn’t know that I really fit in. I kind of felt like a little bit of a square peg,” Reed told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

David Wayne Reed

May 18, 2018
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's an actor, writer, storyteller ... and now, filmmaker. While growing up on his family's farm in Louisburg, Kansas, David Wayne Reed used to dress in drag and perform shows for the hay crew and visiting seed salesmen. He became a founding member of KC's Late Night Theatre. And in his new film, he returns to his farm roots.

A dry crop field under a blue sky.
Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Segment 1: How national headlines impact local farmers.

Even if agriculture may not seem like a big part of your life, farmers are responsible for much of our food, our clothes and even our medicine. Today, we sat down with three reporters from Harvest Public Media to learn how farmers across the Midwest are responding to drought, tariffs and the newest version of the farm bill.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Segment 1: With an understanding in place, city officials and airport developer work on next steps at KCI.

Last month Kansas City officials and the developer of the planned single-terminal setup, Edgemoor, put a memorandum of understanding in place, but negotiations and planning continue. Today, we got an update on the potential timeline and project costs.

Tom Hellauer / For Harvest Public Media

Cypress Pond used to be a plantation in southwest Georgia. Old-growth pecan trees line the gravel roads that wind through the 800 acres of farmland, and there’s an orange grove flanked by patches of long-leaf pine.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it’s the driest part of the state this year.

“We really haven’t really had any measurable rain since the middle of October,” says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville, north of St. Louis. “I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust.”

Segment 1: Kansas City's mayor believes students are essential to the debate on guns.

After the shooting in Parkland, Fla., Mayor Sly James invites students to take action against gun violence. He also shares his perspective on why the threat youth face today relates to his experience growing up during the Vietnam War. 

  • Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City

Segment 2, beginning at 29:40: How to find work with purpose.

Segment 1: Why barber shops are more than a place to your haircut. 

An author with Kansas City roots reminisces about the unique relationship between African-American boys and barber shops in Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

No matter how far fruits or vegetables travel, whether they’re grown organically or conventionally, they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients. The men and women in the fields try to grow foods with an eye to boosting the health factor, but researchers say it’s hard to measure the precise impact.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In winter, farmers across the U.S. visit their banks to learn whether they have credit for the next growing season, relying on that borrowed money to buy seed, fertilizer and chemicals.

But prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are low enough that some producers have had a hard time turning a profit, and financial analysts expect some farmers will hear bad news: Their credit has run out.

Eric Thalken works down a row of organic corn in Nebraska, pulling back the husks. "There's a mindset that organic is ugly and low yielding and it just doesn't have to be," Thalken says.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Burkey Farms in southeast Nebraska looked into the future a couple of years ago and didn’t like what it saw — a continuation of depressed prices for conventional corn and soybeans. So, the families who run the farm together started discussing how the operation would make money if they couldn’t earn more from their crops.

Their conversation took a turn toward organics, a $40 billion industry and growing, especially in Iowa and Colorado.

Courtesy Mary Anne Andrei

Author Ted Genoways is coming to town this Saturday for a reading from his book, The Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm. Why he advocates for more stories of ordinary Midwesterners.

Plus, there are no women composers in the Kansas City Symphony's classical composer series. Why is there a gender gap in classical music? 

Guests:

Courtesy Mary Anne Andrei

Every year on the farm has its challenges. There are weeds, insects and random hailstorms. Unpredictable global markets can make or break a profitable crop. Recent years, though, have been especially troubling for the Hammond farm in York County in eastern Nebraska.

Initially, blogs were personal online journals; by the mid-2000s, they went mainstream. What has happened to blogging since then? Especially now that all those other feeds started filling our spare moments and our minds?

Then: how climate change may be affecting the nutrition content of our food.

Guests:

The herbicide dicamba is thought to have been the culprit in more than 3 million acres of damaged soybeans across the country, destroying plants and leaving farmers out millions of dollars in crops.

The chemical has been in use for decades, so why is it today apparently causing farms so much damage?

A local writer and playwright tells us about her irreverent grandma, who she calls an "R-rated black Yoda."

Then: Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez, but she may be one of the least-known activists in American history. In light of a new documentary coming out this month, we hear more about Huerta from her great-niece, who lives in KC.

Guests:

A new study found that staple crops like corn and wheat, which provide a large proportion of the world’s calories and U.S. farmers’ output, will likely see negative impacts from rising global temperatures.

Courtesy of the Governor's Office

After decades of alarming headlines, Kansas may be on the verge of preserving an ancient groundwater resource that helped make it an agricultural powerhouse.

Since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, researchers have warned that farmers were pumping water from the part of the massive Ogallala aquifer that underlies Kansas faster than nature could replace it.

But a new emphasis on conservation spearheaded by Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is starting to reverse that longstanding trend.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Urban farming is the trend that keeps on trending. Technically, you can trace it all the way back to the victory gardens of WWI. But now that generations of Americans have left rural towns and family farms for the big city, it might seem surprising that their kids and grandkids are growing food again . . . in the city.

We check in with a few local urban farmers, from KCK to South KC.

Guests:

Farmer Wendy Johnson markets hogs, chickens, eggs and seasonal turkeys from her farm near Charles City, Iowa.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

The demand for beef, pork and chicken raised on smaller farms closer to home is growing. Now, some Midwest farmers, like Johnson, are exploring how to graze livestock to meet those demands while still earning a profit.

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