Agriculture

Looking Up: Pockets of Economic Strength
12:01 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Record-High Food Prices Boost Farmers' Bottom Lines

An Illinois farmer checks the blades on his combine while harvesting corn last October. The value of the 2011 U.S. corn crop was more than $76 billion.
Seth Perlman AP

Part of a series

Thanks to high commodity prices and surging productivity, U.S. farmers earned a net income of nearly $98 billion last year — a record, according to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

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Planet Money
12:01 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Meet Claudia, The High-Tech Cow

Technology at rest.
Adam Davidson NPR

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

Here's the secret of the modern dairy farm: The essential high-tech advances aren't in machinery. They're inside the cow.

Take a cow like Claudia. She lives at Fulper Farms, a dairy farm in upstate New Jersey. Claudia is to a cow from the 1930s as a modern Ferrari is to a Model T.

In the 1930s, dairy farmers could get 30 pounds of milk per day from a cow. Claudia produces 75 pounds a day.

To appreciate a cow like Claudia, you have to know where to look.

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The Salt
12:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Farmers Face Tough Choice On Ways To Fight New Strains Of Weeds

Adam Cole NPR

OK, so this story is about weeds and weedkillers, neither of which is ever the hero of a story, but stay with me for a second: It's also about plants with superpowers.

Unless you grow cotton, corn or soybeans for a living, it's hard to appreciate just how amazing and wonderful it seemed, 15 years ago, when Roundup-tolerant crops hit the market. I've seen crusty farmers turn giddy just talking about it.

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The Salt
2:05 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

How Using Antibiotics In Animal Feed Creates Superbugs

Many livestock groups say there's no evidence that antibiotics in livestock feed have caused a human health problem, but researchers beg to differ.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 5:19 pm

Researchers have nailed down something scientists, government officials and agribusiness proponents have argued about for years: whether antibiotics in livestock feed give rise to antibiotic-resistant germs that can threaten humans.

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The Salt
5:51 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Why California Almonds Need North Dakota Flowers (And A Few Billion Bees)

Almond trees rely on bees to pollinate during their brief bloom for a few weeks in February.
Winfried Rothermel APN

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 12:27 pm

This is one of those stories that reminds us that everything really is connected to everything else.

Here's the web of connections: a threat to California's booming almond business; hard times for honeybees in North Dakota; and high corn prices.

Confused?

OK, let's start with the almonds. They come from an old-world tree that migrated to California and prospered in the hands of farmers like James McFarlane, who lives right outside the city of Clovis.

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The Salt
3:23 am
Mon February 6, 2012

California's Stevia Growers Bet On Fast Track To Sweetener Success

The S&W Seed Co., in Five Points, Calif., will grow these seedlings of zero-calorie stevia in the fields of California's Central Valley.
Dan Charles NPR

It's stevia time!

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Morning Edition
6:00 am
Thu February 2, 2012

New Planting Map Reflects Warmer Winters

NH Plant Hardiness Map
USDA

The USDA recently released a new growing zone map for the entire country. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the guide gardeners use to determine what plants and flowers will most likely thrive in their location. This is the first significant update in more than 20 years. The new online interactive map takes advantage of much more detailed data analysis, and it’s making news because it shows that warmer winters are sustaining plants that previously would have died off in colder climates.

Word of Mouth - Segment
12:06 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

The Tale of Two Farms

Photo by Lisbokt, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

We’ve heard the stories of farm family underdogs pitched against profit-hungry developers or deep- pocketed corporations. This story of a land dispute in Canterbury New Hampshire defies the good guy versus bad guy model. The players in this conflict are two well-liked farm families. One has been farming in town for hundreds of years, and currently runs a dairy farm. The other family is not native, farms organically, and has corporate backing.

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