Wet spring and summer rains soaked much of the High Plains this year. The Platte River, which runs through Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska before emptying into the Missouri River, saw historic flooding.
Farm runoff polluting drinking water and destroying aquatic wildlife habitat has been a problem for decades. Fearing a backlash from customers, some of the world's wealthiest food companies are starting to take notice.
Farmers are feeling the pressure to help clean up Midwestern waterways. New soil and water monitoring tools give them opportunities to measure the nutrient load on individual fields, which can help them apply fertilizer more precisely and evaluate the relative merits of different water conservation strategies. The stakes are high, from local drinking water to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
After a federal judge struck down an Idaho law that made it illegal to take undercover video on farms and ranches, animal rights groups say they are primed to challenge similar so-called “ag gag” laws across the country.
Farmers in the Midwest are facing a situation they haven’t seen for a while. Grain prices are down. After some of the most lucrative years they’ve ever seen, some producers could lose money on this year’s crop. That could slow down the rural economy.
Choice Cuts, part 4: Many U.S. consumers are starting to cut back on meat as health experts learn more about the risk of a diet high in proteins from meat. That leaves farmers and ranchers to raise meat animals with health-conscious meat-eaters in mind.
Choice Cuts, Part 2: The modern meat industry is built on the ability to find cheap feed made mostly from corn and soybeans. In that way, the U.S. Corn Belt forms the backbone of your burgers, pork chops and chicken fillets.