The effects of the government shutdown are starting to be felt in rural parts of the country. For example, implementing the new farm bill is on hold, Anna Johnson, Midwest policy manager for the Center for Rural Affairs and based in Iowa, said in a weekend IowaWatch Connection radio report now available in a podcast.
ByChristopher Walljasper/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
After 20 years, Mississippi chicken farmer Kevin Kemp is getting out of the chicken business. He raised millions of pounds of chicken since 1996, alongside his father and brother. But Kemp said even though he’s done well as a poultry grower, raising chickens is “not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“The chicken industry has been good to a lot of people around here,” Kemp said. “It just got to the point where I didn’t enjoy raising chickens, because you had to put up with too much crap from the integrator.”
By “integrator,” Kemp means the big poultry companies, which deliver chickens to farmers as chicks, and pick them up six to eight weeks later as full-grown birds, ready to be slaughtered and sent to restaurants and grocery stores. Kemp has experienced the immense control poultry companies put on growers – how they care for the birds, the way payments are determined, even dictating when growers replace equipment.
Urban expansion, at least in the few areas where Iowa cities are growing, is eating up some of the state’s best farmland. The urban growth is part of a national trend in which good farmland is lost to new residential neighborhoods.
ByKaolin Sewell/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
Once every five years, the farm bill reauthorizes farm and nutrition programs nationwide, covering programs such as healthy food access for low-income Americans and protecting our environment. A conference committee is working on a new one.
Last year, according to a University of Missouri survey, dicamba damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres of soybeans across 25 states when it drifted from farms planted with seeds genetically engineered to resist the chemical onto regular soybean fields.
Parents in Page County, Iowa, in 1915 hoped the actions of a local farm girl would cause similar seeds of thought to “germinate in the fertile minds of our youth.”
Eloise Parsons, 14, a member of the Page County Tomato Club, was honored for her work as a model tomato grower. On a small one-tenth of an acre tract of land near Clarinda, she grew a bumper crop of vegetables in the summer of 1914. After deducting her expenses of $15.61, which included renting the land, applying fertilizers, and her labor at a rate of ten cents per hour, Eloise saw a profit of $115.57. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is the author of non-fiction books for young people.
ByJohnathan Hettinger/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lessened protections for crops and wildlife habitats after Monsanto supplied research that presented lower estimates of how far the weed killer dicamba can drift, according to a review of federal documents. In its final report approving the usage of dicamba on soybeans, the agency expressed confidence that dicamba, new versions of which are made by Monsanto and German chemical company BASF, would not leave the field. The registration covered both herbicides, an EPA spokesperson said. “The EPA expects that exposure will remain confined to the dicamba (DGA) treated field,” the agency wrote in the final registration approving the use of dicamba in November 2016. However, drift from dicamba damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 2017, according to data from Kevin Bradley, a professor at the University of Missouri.
In 1937 newspapers across the country, including the New York Times, ran a story about a 63-year-old Iowa woman who had spent her entire life working a 250-acre farm near Bladensburg in Wapello County. By all accounts Nettie Timmonds was a hard-working woman. She cared for a 10-room farmhouse, churned butter, canned vegetables and baked cakes. During the summer months she raised 200 to 400 chickens. This was newsworthy not because Nettie was an unmarried woman, but because she endured multiple physical challenges—including blindness—most of her life.
In the United States alone, air pollution kills about 115,000 people a year — more than three times the number of deaths caused by motor vehicles. Worldwide, some 7 million people died in 2012 alone from exposure to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. The United States and other developed nations have taken major steps in recent decades to decrease pollution emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes. Read more at ensia.com
Yet a surprising source of harmful air pollution particles — emissions of ammonia from livestock manure and synthetic fertilizer application — continues to grow in parts of the U.S., Asia and Europe. “When people think about air quality, they think about factories and power plants and transportation.