Agribusiness | KCUR

Agribusiness

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

Go here to subscribe to the My Fellow Kansans podcast. This season, we look at the prospects of rural places.

DIGHTON, Kansas — A billboard along Interstate 70 boasting about the productivity of Kansas farmers may say more about what’s happening in agriculture than those who put it there realize.

The message seems simple and straightforward: “1 Kansas Farmer Feeds 155 People + You!”

A closer look reveals it’s been crudely updated — an indication that the tally changes with some frequency.

GARDEN CITY — Zion Roth farms with his uncle, father and brothers near Garden City. Roth uses tools that monitor weather and the soil moisture on his farm, including one that notifies him when conditions are ideal for irrigation.

Segment 1: Application numbers for growing medical marijuana in Missouri are below expectations

With only a few days left to submit the required paperwork, there are less than 100 applicants for the 60 cultivator licenses Missouri is ready to award. A panel of those involved in working to supply medical marijuana dispensaries by spring 2020 explain what goes into creating the state's regulations and what hopeful cultivators have already done to be considered.

Tyson Fresh Meats plans to reopen the Holcomb, Kansas, beef packing plant partially destroyed by a weekend fire — it’s just not sure when.

Tyson said in a news release that it will recruit some employees to rebuild the plant, which processes about 5% of the country’s cattle.

Wichita — Sarah Stephens stands over a brightly lit table in a detached garage-turned-grow shed as she trims away unnecessary leaves from a recently harvested hemp plant.

When she’s finished, only the floral material of the plant will be left. The flowers will eventually be processed into CBD oil.

“We started out with not a ton of knowledge about it,” Michael Stephens, Sarah’s brother and partner at Tallgrass Hemp and Cannabis, said. “It’s been a learning experience.”

GARDEN CITY — Nearly all American cattle spend their final months in massive feedlots, munching on feed designed to fatten them for slaughter.

But not all that goes into the beasts transforms to beef.

Their four-chamber-stomach digestive systems continually seep all forms of gasses, including the powerful greenhouse gas methane they burp up silently and constantly.

PLEVNA, Kansas — P.J. Sneed walks through his small greenhouse in central Kansas checking on rows and rows of small hemp plants just waiting to be put into the ground.

The plants inside the greenhouse near Plevna look rather healthy. Problematically, they look better than the plants in the few acres he’s already planted just outside of the greenhouse.

A Silicon Valley startup is pitting itself against major seed companies, alleging that those companies are price gouging in the Heartland. Farmers Business Network’s stated motive is to help farmers by crunching numbers and providing transparency, but it is positioning itself to become a player in the seed business, too.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

In a recent national survey, farmers said the biggest threat to their livelihoods wasn’t low commodity prices or global trade policies. It was the rising cost of health insurance.

It’s one of the reasons why state farm bureaus have jumped into the insurance game in Iowa, Tennessee and Nebraska, and are trying to in Kansas.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

As the 2018 harvest wrapped up and the leaves turned brilliant shades of red and yellow, two of the world’s biggest agribusinesses, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Smithfield Foods, announced they were pairing up on projects with environmental nonprofits.

It didn’t create the furor like in past years when oil companies joined forces with nonprofits and were met by accusations of “greenwashing” — that is, just trying to shine up their reputations. But that doesn’t mean these latest partnerships have it figured out.