Covering Our Food System

David Barry / NET Nebraska

NAFTA Took US Beef International, But Some Ranchers Say It Went Too Far

The U.S., Canada and Mexico wrapped up the latest round of negotiations earlier this month over NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the trade pact, which he continues to call a bad deal for the U.S. But NAFTA has helped grow the beef industry beyond the U.S. borders, so while some worry about the Trump administration’s wavering commitment to NAFTA, others want more protections.

Read More
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.

Ben Kuebrich / Kansas News Service/Harvest Public Media

A new, widely debated federal mandate requires truckers to electronically track the number of hours they’re on the road — a rule that’s meant to make highways safer. But there’s a big difference between hauling a load of TVs and a load of cattle destined for meatpacking plants.

Dicamba-resistant soybeans sit in a field in rural McLean County, Illinois, in August.
Darrell Hoemann / File/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Lawsuits filed in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri against the makers of the herbicide dicamba will be centralized in the federal court in St. Louis.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Ligitation decided Thursday to centralize the 11 cases, which allege the herbicide caused significant damage to soybean crops. 

The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of most foods, but anything that includes meat falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA. That includes things like the breakfast sandwiches in the frozen foods aisle of this Walmart in Lincoln, Nebraska.
File/Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The two federal agencies tasked with enforcing the nation’s food safety laws agreed this week to collaborate better, update biotechnology regulations and implement new safety inspections on produce farms.

The biggest change from the agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, however, could come from a review of how food processing facilities currently are regulated by both departments. Experts say that could lead to less paperwork for food manufacturers and more streamlined reports of recalls and other food safety issues.

File/Harvest Public Media

Partisan politics may meet its match in the 2018 farm bill.

The massive legislation, versions of which will be introduced this spring in the U.S. House and Senate, is shaping up to be less about political affiliations and more about finding common ground.

Some States Establish Pesticide Buffer Zones, But None Where Much Is Sprayed: The Midwest

Jan 24, 2018
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Hundreds of rural schools in Midwest states nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds.

It’s a time of low unemployment across the Midwest, leading to a labor shortage that’s stunting the growth of urban and rural businesses. Given that Donald Trump campaigned on a staunchly pro-business platform, one would think he’d have instituted policies benefiting everything from high-tech startups to huge dairy operations.

Amy Mayer / File/Harvest Public Media

The federal government wants to revamp hog slaughter inspections, proposing changes that were more than 15 years in the works and are being touted as ways to improve food safety. Critics argue they hand too much responsibility to meatpackers and may put workers’ safety at risk.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

Since the George W. Bush administration, the federal government has doled out millions of dollars with the promise to expedite access to broadband service in remote parts of the country.

President Donald Trump is no exception, having signed an executive order earlier this month directing the government to use “all viable tools” to speed up the process to locate wireless technology on federal buildings in rural areas. Plus, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai just proposed putting a $500 million toward rural broadband.

While all political persuasions agree with the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Task Force report that broadband is critical for the economic health of a large swath of the country, experts say the devil is in the details — or lack thereof. They also say Pai’s infusion of money does little more than restore funding that previously had been cut.

Icy Rivers In Midwest Impeding Grain Bound For Export

Jan 19, 2018
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media file photo

The recent frigid weather across the Midwest has slowed river barges carrying grain to shipment ports, especially those destined for the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois rivers.


Special Series: Dangerous Jobs, Cheap Meat

The human toll of our meat habit

Follow Harvest Public Media on Twitter

Special Series: Watching Our Water

The challenge to keep it clean