Digging Deeper


What will be the big farm issues of 2012?

Out with the old, in with the view.

We’ve already asked you what you thought the big stories of 2011 were. Now, we want to know what farm issues will dominate the 2012 headlines.

Will it be those sky-high farmland prices sticking around? Will subsidies be shelved in the 2012 farm bill? Or will all that opposition to the controversial child labor proposal make the government drop the idea?

Click here to talk to the Harvest Network and tell us what you think the biggest ag story of 2012 will be.

While we’re at this big news stuff, I’m sharing what the top ten most-clicked stories were here at Harvest Public Media in this, our first calendar year of operation as one of public media’s Local Journalism Centers.  

Thanks to some numbers crunching by my pal and Harvest colleague Jeremy Bernfeld, we’ve ranked the stories. Genetically modified food, new fuels, U.S. agriculture policy and the fresh faces of farming dominated here on our website. (We can also be heard on our partner stations, KCUR, KBIA, Iowa Public Radio, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, High Plains Radio and Kansas Public Radio. Our stories often air on NPR as well.)

Here’s a rundown of our most popular stories of the year:

No. 10 – The explosion of locally-grown foods – and the small or urban farmers who grow them – was reported in a series we calledHome Fields: Digging into the local food ‘advantage.’”

No. 9 – A pilot program aimed at engaging beginning and minority farmers with “hoop houses” – easy-to-make greenhouses – made hopefuls of new farmers and their advocates.

No. 8 – Farm country took a controversial proposal on child labor as heresy when the government suggested keeping kids from what it deemed dangerous jobs – like driving a tractor, working around breeding cattle or handling pesticides.

No. 7 – The debate on the 2012 Farm Bill made a stop in Wichita, Kan., when the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee met with farmers there in September. They were warned: don’t touch crop insurance.

No. 6 – Our series “Her land, her farm” chronicled the continued contribution of women in agriculture, which is growing thanks to many widows outliving their farm spouses.

No. 5 -- Eric Durban, our man in Garden City, Kan., came in with No. 5 on the list, writing about the lack of fresh food in the middle of farm country.

No. 4 – A side industry that came out of the booming fracking industry, the controversial new extraction process for natural gas,  has benefitted an Iowa family, changing the family business from the Pattison Bros. grain company to the Pattison Sand Co.

No. 3 -- Kathleen Masterson gave the latest update on an old story: how the Farm Bill was shaped from concerns about poverty into our current policies.

No. 2 – Going sideways – instead of down – for oil was the subject of a story from our Nebraska reporter, Clay Masters, who reported about the new technology known as horizontal drilling.

No. 1 – If cutting onions without shedding tears is a fantasy, think again. Our top story of the year was about the multi-billion dollar quest by Monsanto – the biotech giant – to create genetically modified vegetables for the consumer market, like tearless onions and super-boosted nutrients in broccoli.

As 2011 comes to a close, let’s focus on what the stories of the next year will be. Click here to tell the Harvest Network what you think the biggest stories of 2012 will be.