Harvest Public Media

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the "know where your food comes from" movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

Pesticide-free? Nurtured with organic fertilizer? No antibiotics?

Ask any shopper, and you're bound to find mixed answers for what an organic label means.

Now, an association is trying to draw funding from something called a "checkoff" to pay for consumer advertising and research. For a checkoff to work, each farmer pays a small amount. For example, a penny-per-bushel of wheat or a dollar per cow would generate millions of dollars in pooled funding that could pay for splashy ad campaigns.

Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef. But what about its farm drones?

Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees: apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.

And then she bought her first chickens.

"A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal," says Creech, who lives in rural North Salem, Ind. "Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows. And then it just explodes from there."

On a breezy morning next to a cornfield in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors.

"This one just flies itself," he says. "It's fully autonomous."

Underhill is a drone technician with Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone startup that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he's training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.

2015 Likely To Be A Mixed Bag For Colorado Farmers

Jan 28, 2015

2014 brought with it an abundance of grain for Colorado farmers and it doesn’t look likely to change in 2015. While farmers wait for a rebound, the new year could bring substantive policy change.

Great Plains farmers are unlikely to see relief in 2015 from sluggish commodity crop prices, according to Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs with K-Coe Isom, one of the country’s largest agricultural consulting firms. Kuehl spoke at an economic forecast event in Greeley.

An American rebound from drought, and bumper crops in other parts of the world, have caused a grain glut that has pushed down prices for corn, wheat and soybeans. Farmers are coming off a couple seasons of some of the highest corn prices in years.

Humans have been growing hemp for centuries. Hemp-based foods have taken off recently. So have lotions and soaps that use hemp oil. Studies underway now are examining how different compounds in cannabis could be used as medicine. There’s hope its chemical compounds could hold keys to medical treatments for Parkinson’s disease and childhood epilepsy.

Scientists studying industrial hemp say the plant holds a tremendous amount of promise. But to unlock its potential there’s very basic scientific research to be done.

Farmers who just got into the business in recent years found it was a good time to both plant and harvest.

"We were all spoiled little brats the past two years, with $5, $6, $7 corn, yep," says farmer Grant Curtis.

He's sitting in the captain's chair of his combine on a brisk, overcast day in western Illinois. He's driving back and forth over rows of corn on his family's farm. Then he arcs the 80,000-pound machine off course towards a single stalk he missed.

It's a hot summer day outside Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He's wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

"You can get a lot of tater tots out of schools," Chappelle says. "It doesn't matter if it's elementary, middle school or high school. Tater tots. Bar none."

Growing Marijuana Industry Creates Real Estate Rush

Nov 7, 2014

The showing starts inside an empty office building, the kind you’d see in any humdrum workplace sitcom, stripped of its cubicles and ceiling tiles, leaving just a bare, dusty shell.

Jason Thomas with Avalon Realty Advisors, a commercial real estate firm that deals with the marijuana industry’s entrepreneurs, shows off the building’s features: a fully operational HVAC system, fire sprinklers, heavy duty warehouse doors, equipped with locks.

It’s a blank slate for a marijuana grower, ready to be outfitted with thousands of lights and complex water delivery systems.

Legalizing marijuana in Colorado created a land rush. State law says the drug has to be grown indoors, but layers of regulation meant to curb out of state investment and tight zoning requirements have made real estate hard to come by for pot growers.

Luke Runyon/KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops this year. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business.

Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

Headlines

  • BLM Finds Temp Location for Gunnison Office after Fire
  • Experts Examine Cost of Natural Disasters
  • Forget the Golf Course, Developers Use Farming to Sell Suburban Homes
  • Grand Junction Airport Authority Members Looking into Fraud Allegations

Headlines

  • Hickenlooper visits Craig & Rifle, Calls for Compromise on Greater Sage Grouse
  • DMEA Expects Hydroelectric Upgrades to Increase Efficiency, Save Money
  • Business Leaders Across State Call for Quick Immigration Reform
  • Looking at the Challenges of Sourcing Food Locally with Joel Salatin
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Fall is planting time for wheat across the Great Plains and this year’s crop went into the ground while big changes were underway in the wheat market. Some of the biggest players in the flour milling industry are joining forces to make the country’s largest miller even larger.

Headlines:

  • Colorado's Oil and Gas Industry is Stepping Up its Outreach now that Election is over,
  • BLM Says it Will Allow Anonymous Oil and Gas Lease Nominations
  • Charges Won't be filed against Montrose City Councilor who checked in at the airport with a gun in her purse
  • From Harvest Public Media, a Proposed Merger Could Create a Flour Milling Goliath
  • Paonia Eagles Win Class 1A State Championship
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Community gardens dole out small plots of land and encourage people with limited access to fresh produce to grow their own. Now, there’s a new twist on that model springing up across the country: edible food forests.

 

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Over the last 20 years, the number of sheep in this country has been cut in half. In fact, the number has been declining since the late 1940s, when the American sheep industry hit its peak. Today, the domestic sheep herd is one-tenth the size it was during World War II.

The decline is the result of economic and cultural factors coming together. And it has left ranchers to wonder, “When are we going to hit the bottom?”

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Past the razor-wire fences, beyond huge metal gates, behind thick walls, you’ll find one of the most unique dairies in the country. 

  • Grand Valley Water Officials Say State Should Import Water to Meet Demand
  • Delta County Commissioners Discuss Efforts to Protect Sage Grouse
  • Mountain Village's Green Gondola Project to Install 10 New Solar Panels
  • More Colorado Marijuana on Black Market Than Ever Before
  • Prison Dairy Serves Up Buffalo Milk
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

Climate models and population growth paint a pretty bleak picture for water availability a few decades from now. If farmers want to stay in business, they have to figure out how to do more with less. Enter: super efficient irrigation systems.

  • FBI and Montrose Authorities Release Illustrations of Missing Woman
  • Tom Tancredo Challenges Hickenlooper to Debate on Tax Increase
  • Some Montrose Residents Angry About Airport Improvement Spending
  • Marty Durlin Speaks with Jason Beason of the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory
  • Harvest Public Media – Can Planned Grazing Revive Grassland Soil?
  • Upper Management of Pueblo Newspaper Sign Giron Recall Petition
  • FBI and Montrose Authorities Release Illustrations of Missing Woman
  • Tom Tancredo Challenges Hickenlooper to Debate on Tax Increase for Education
  • Some Montrose Residents Angry about Airport Improvement Spending
  • Marty Durlin speaks with Jason Beason of the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory about Bird Monitoring
  • Harvest Public Media – Can Planned Grazing Revive Grassland Soil?
  • Upper Management of Publeo Newspaper Sign Giron Recall Petition
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The world’s soil is in trouble. Ecologists say without dramatic changes to how we manage land, vast swathes of grassland are at risk of turning into hard-packed desert. Farmers and ranchers know in a few decades they’ll have to feed a lot more people, while at the same time, keep the soil healthy and make money doing it. KUNC and Harvest Public Media reporter Luke Runyon takes us to eastern Colorado, where researchers are turning to some unexpected partners to revive the soil.

Grace Hood/KUNC

When unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn’t take long for accusations about how it ended up there to start flying. A flurry of initial finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Fort Collins, Colo., which housed the same strain of wheat, developed by Monsanto Corp., for about seven years up until late 2011.

Headlines:

  • TX US Senator Ted Cruz Speaks at Conservative Western Summit
  • Colorado US Senator Mark Udall Calls for Reforms to Patriot Act
  • Sounds of the High Country from KDNK – The Past, Present and Future of Wildfires in Colorado
  • Nine Colorado Counties Chosen for Alternative Fuel Vehicles Pilot Project
  • Harvest Public Media Report – How Secure is the Fort Knox of Seeds?