Farming

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Michael and Tara Gallina are the proprietors of Rooster and the Hen, a culinary concept — they say — that seeks to delight eaters through thoughtfulness; for the way our food is grown and raised, to the care and warmth in which it's served.

Kevin Kliesen, Business Economist and Research Officer,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Many Midwest farmers will be feeling the effect of this summer’s abnormally wet weather for the rest of this year and into 2016. A new agricultural survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests farmer income will continue to take a hit into next year in part because of the delayed planting of soybeans and the inability to bale hay.

Flickr/Shane McGraw

Some crops in Illinois are under water. Some have yet to be planted.

After the wettest June on record, officials in Illinois with the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week they’re seeking a federal disaster declaration to help farmers with flood-damaged crops.

"This has been the absolute worst spring for getting anything done that I’ve seen in 40 years of farming. It seemed like just as the ground was drying up, it’d rain again," said Greg Guenther, who farms east of Belleville.

Flooded fields, an inability to plant, and the possibility of disease are all concerns Missouri farmers have due to recent rains.
Sonya Green | Flickr

Missouri's farmers are facing significant challenges as heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bill compound an already wet planting season.

soybean and corn fields in southern Illinois
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A team of 17 cancer experts assembled by the World Health Organization has ruled the most commonly used herbicide a “probable carcinogen.”

Spike In Propane Price Worries Midwest Farmers

Feb 10, 2014
Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media

Residents across the Midwest are struggling with tight propane supplies, especially in this bitterly cold, snowy winter. But it’s not just homes in rural counties that are lacking adequate heating fuel. Farms that put bacon and eggs on your breakfast plate are also feeling the supply pinch. 

Hog farmer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., burns liquid propane – LP - from September through May to support his piglets. His farrowing barn goes through about two semi truckloads of LP each year. 

Kevin O'Connor Rutland Herald

After years of going on vacations and dreaming of living in the places they visited, St. Louis native Ellen Stimson and her family decided to move to rural Vermont to be close to the mountains.

They bought a country store, decided to homeschool their youngest son, and began raising chickens. And soon learned that vacationing in Vermont is much different than living there.

(Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio)

Illinois Congressman Bill Enyart was one of only 24 Democrats who voted in favor of the U.S. House's failed Farm Bill on Thursday.

Enyart, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, supported the bill despite some misgivings but said he is disappointed in the bill’s failure.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

Members of Missouri and Illinois' Congressional delegations are weighing in on the U.S. House version of the Farm Bill, which could be voted on before week's end.

Illinois Republican Rodney Davis told reporters today via conference call that the bill is a big improvement over the version passed by the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate.

The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation's farm policy for the next five years.

The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness. That debate is set to continue as the House plans to take up its version of the bill this month.

When Wal-Mart calls, Herman Farris always finds whatever the retailer wants, even if it's yucca root in the dead of winter. Farris is a produce broker in Columbia, Mo., who has been buying for Wal-Mart from auctions and farms since the company began carrying fruits and vegetables in the early 1990s.

During the summer and fall, nearly everything Farris delivers is grown in Missouri. That's Wal-Mart's definition of "local" — produce grown and sold in the same state. In winter, it's a bit tougher to source locally.

You've heard of the "fiscal cliff," but have you heard of the milk cliff"?

If Congress doesn't take action in the next four days, milk prices could shoot up dramatically.

Here's why:

(via Flickr/Senator McCaskill)

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says she's frustrated with the House of Representatives for not taking up three pieces of legislation that she calls "bipartisan" and "vitally important."

The Democratic Senator says she doesn't understand why members of the House won't take up legislation on:

Harvest Public Media's Abbie Fentress Swanson takes a look at why investors are increasingly drawn to putting their monetary green toward farmland - even if they've never grown anything green before. Swanson's colleague Charles Minshew also created a map which shows the priciest plots of farmland in Missouri. Explore it all via the link.

After one of the driest summers on record, recent rains have helped in some parts of the country. But overall, the drought has still intensified. The latest tracking classifies more than a fifth of the contiguous United States in "extreme or exceptional" drought, the worst ratings.

In some parts of the Lower Midwest, water-starved crops have collapsed, but the farmers have not. Farmers across the country are surviving, and many are even thriving. This year, despite the dismal season, farmers stand to make exceptionally good money, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Malory Ensor)

Will be updated.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has extended the state of emergency related to the drought that has gripped the state for most of the summer. 

This summer's drought has hit more than half the states in the country. Crops are suffering, but farmers might not be. Most farmers have crop insurance.

U.S. taxpayers spend about $7 billion a year on crop insurance. It's our largest farm subsidy.

And this subsidy goes in part to farmers — who will tell you themselves they aren't so sure about the whole idea. "I have an aversion to it," says Jim Traub, a corn and bean farmer in Fairbury, Illinois. "But you're not going to turn it down."

Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio

In the high-profile race for U.S. Senate in Missouri, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill is seizing on this year’s drought to win support among rural voters. 

Speaking at the historic Soulard Farmers Market, Senator McCaskill laid in to her opponent in the November election—Republican Congressman Todd Akin—for his opposition the Senate version of the federal farm bill, which includes disaster assistance for farmers reeling from this year’s record drought.

Were it not for Republicans like Todd Akin, McCaskill says that relief would be on its way to farmers and ranchers.

When it's hot and humid, you probably don't want to move much and aren't very hungry. The same goes for cows; but when they don't eat, farmers lose money.

Researchers at the University of Missouri think they can help avoid those losses. They've produced a new mobile app that can detect the threat of heat stress in cows using nothing more than a smartphone.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Malory Ensor)

More money is being put into an emergency program to aid farmers and ranchers battling water shortages in Missouri.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has added $5 million to the $2 million set aside for crop and livestock producers who want to drill new wells or deepen existing ones during the ongoing drought.  More than 600 applications have been sent in since the program’s announcement on Tuesday.

Stop by most any unirrigated farm across the lower Midwest and you'll see crops in distress. Midwestern corn and soybean farmers are taking a beating during the recent drought, but it's not likely to drive many out of business.

Most of those farmers carry terrific insurance, and the worse the drought becomes, the more individual farmers will be paid for their lost crops. The federal government picks up most of the cost of the crop insurance program, and this year that bill is going to be a whopper.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt is applauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s move to designate all of Missouri’s 114 counties a disaster area.

Speaking to reporters today, Blunt said the state’s ongoing drought highlights the need for good farm policy and he would like the House to pass a final farm bill by the end of September.

(Malory Ensor/KOMU News via Flickr)

Updated with comments from McCaskill conference call.

The entire state of Missouri is now a federal agriculture disaster area.

Seventeen of the state's counties, mostly in the Bootheel, had already received that declaration. Today's announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture extends that declaration to the other 97 counties and the city of St. Louis.

Gov. Jay Nixon wants federal agriculture officials to determine whether heat and drought conditions are taking a toll on Missouri's crops and livestock. The National Climatic Data Center says moderate drought conditions persist across nearly 87 percent of Missouri. And extreme drought conditions exist in southeast Missouri.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Missouri's no-call list set to expand

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will be in St. Louis today to sign legislation that allows people to add cellphones to the state’s Do Not Call list.

Nixon created the list when he was attorney general. Cellphone numbers added to the list would be off limits to most solicitations, including text messages.

Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office maintains the list, is expected to join Nixon. Koster says his office gets nearly 200 complaints a week from cellphone users about unwanted telemarketing calls.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Mo. mountain lions are visitors, not natives

The number of mountain lion sightings in the state of Missouri is on the rise, and DNA tests show some of them are visiting from other states.

The Missouri Conservation Department confirmed 14 mountain lion sightings last year – that’s up from a total of 12 in the previous 16 years.

(via Flickr/Senator Roy Blunt)

Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R) briefly addressed the Missouri House today.

Blunt spent most of his nine-minute speech criticizing government growth and overregulation.  He was especially critical of the federal government’s attempts to regulate family farms.

"We don’t need people in Washington DC deciding what farm kids can do on family farms," Blunt said to applause.  "We don’t need the EPA trying to spend all this time figuring out how you can farm without dust.”

A New York federal court today dismissed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers. The farmers hoped the suit would protect them against infringing on the company's crop patents in the future.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and several other growers and organizations do not use Monsanto seeds. But they were betting that the judge would agree that Monsanto should not be allowed to sue them if pollen from the company's patented crops happened to drift into their fields.

(via Flickr/Dodo-Bird)

Missouri House members have voted to reject a tax plan that would increase property taxes for the best farms.

Property taxes for farms are based on the land's "productive value." Farms are divided into eight groups based on land quality, with the best in Grade 1 and the worst in Grade 8. The Missouri Tax Commission has recommended increasing productive values for the four highest grades.

The property tax changes for 2013 and 2014 take effect unless the Legislature approves a resolution to reject them. House members voted 117-39 on Tuesday to reject the tax proposal.

(Courtesy Sauce Magazine/ by Greg Rannells)

Urban agriculture has taken root in cities everywhere, including right here in the River City.  It comes in many forms: the community garden, the backyard vegetable patch, the rooftop bee colony.  But cultivating food in town can be complicated and wrought with challenges---so what is it that’s driving some city dwellers to skip the grocery store and get their hands dirty?   Libby Franklin reports in the next of our new series Sound Bites, created in partnership with Sauce Magazine.

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