Harvest's Top 10 Stories of 2017 (And A Short Note)

Dec 26, 2017

We can’t get enough of year-end lists, so here are the stories that Harvest Public Media’s reporters and editors thought were interesting, thought-provoking, unique or just plain fun:

Changing of the guard
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
Credit Julie Denesha / File/For Harvest Public Media

Sonny Perdue took over the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was one of the last Cabinet positions in Trump’s administration to be filled. Harvest’s Peggy Lowe scored one of the first interviews with him.

A country divided
Instructor Melissa Velazquez teaches prospective naturalized citizens in Colorado about U.S. civics and history.
Credit Luke Runyon / File/Harvest Public Media

The year may be best remembered for the issues that separate parts of America — and the places where there are commonalities. Harvest reporters looked at several issues, from immigration to education, to take our country’s temperature.

Drift away
Damage to soybean plants that's blamed on the pesticide dicamba.
Credit Courtesy of Kevin Bradley, University of Missoui

One of the biggest agriculture stories was dicamba, a pesticide that’s been blamed for damaging millions of acres of soybeans across the Midwest and South. Harvest’s Kristofor Husted took the lead in covering it, including looking forward and explaining what pesticides are.

Go underground
A guard patrols the perimeter of a survival bunker near Concordia, Kansas.
Credit Frank Morris / File/Harvest Public Media

Fear and uncertainty drives humans in various ways. For the wealthier among us, there’s a $3 million option waiting should the apocalypse arrive, and Frank Morris got the tour.

What is lost

What is left of the home of O.T. Jackson, the founder of Dearfield, Colorado, sits on the town site in rural Weld County.
Credit Luke Runyon / File/Harvest Public Media

Ghost towns are a common sight across rural America. But there’s one unlike the others that Luke Runyon found in eastern Colorado, where the remnants of an African-American farming community stands.

Rapid rollbacks

Credit Grant Gerlock / File/Harvest Public Media

The Trump administration took aim at several Obama-era rules, some that were in place and others that were proposed. Among them: Waters of the United States, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, organic animal welfare, changes to the school lunch program and, as Grant Gerlock reported, fair-practice rules for livestock producers.

After the storm
This is an example of a typical "grow out" in Puerto Rico. There are two rows planted with the same seeds, marked by an identifying tag.
Credit Courtesy of Les North/MayerSeedline

Puerto Rico is still reeling from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September. Amy Mayer found out how seed research on the unincorporated U.S. territory was affected.

Who are the people in your agriculture?
Two cowboys work the pens of cattle at a feedlot in southwest Kansas.
Credit Peggy Lowe / File/Harvest Public Media

Universities are looking to diversify who they’re teaching to be agronomists and farmers, as reported by Mayer. And while immigrants are the key to modern U.S. agriculture, there are too many jobs left to fill, a problem that Lowe reports Congress is trying to solve. (Yes, we cheated, it’s two stories.)

When the water runs out
Credit Luke Runyon / File/KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Colorado farmers put aside their grudges and band together to ensure they can keep making a living, as Runyon reported.

Shine them spurs
Members of the Single Action Shooting Society load their rifles and pistols at the Iron Hero match, including Dannette Ray of Boulder, Colorado (left), aka Marie Laveau.
Credit Grant Gerlock / File/Harvest Public Media

In a slice of life from Nebraska, Gerlock spent the day with people who dress up like cowboys, recite lines from their favorite movies and see who can be the quickest on the draw.


Harvest Public Media went through a couple of changes this year, with editor Jeremy Bernfeld becoming the director of collaborative reporting at WAMU in Washington, D.C., and Runyon shifting coverage for KUNC to the Colorado River basin and water issues in the western U.S. We’re grateful for all they did to help Harvest succeed.

Stick with Harvest in 2018 for full coverage of the next farm bill — among many other topics — see how our new editor, Erica Hunzinger, manages and meet our new reporters in the coming months!

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