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agriculture

The region's largest dairy cooperative will impose a new pricing system in January in an effort to curb excess milk production.

Carmen Baskauf / Connecticut Public Radio

Do you worry about how you’re everyday actions contribute to climate change? You may think about the carbon gas-burning cars are putting into the atmosphere, or coal-powered electricity in your houses.

But what about the food you eat?

Jade Allen / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut’s dairy farmers are ending their fifth year of financial decline and there does not seem to be an end in sight. That was the picture being presented to the legislative rural caucus on Tuesday as dairy farmers from across the state expressed the industry’s need for more financial support.

Jess Gambel / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

This hour, we take a look at bees. From the famous animals that make the honey we eat to lesser-known native “solitary bees” that nest in holes in the ground, there are thousands of species of bees, and hundreds of them have been found right here in Connecticut!

We'll talk about the critical role these pollinators play in agriculture and learn about the threats they face.

Later, we talk about another iconic pollinator: the monarch butterfly. Have you spotted one of these rare and magnificent creatures near your home?

Robert Henry is driving along the top of a Mississippi River levee, giving me a tour of land where he'd love to be planting soybeans right now. We're just east of New Madrid, Mo.

"Smells kind of raunchy, doesn't it?" he says.

From the window of Henry's truck, I see what looks like a swamp, with trees standing in water. Then we make a turn, and suddenly, as far as I can see, there's water. It covers a wide flood plain between the main river channel and the levee. This is where Henry normally grows his crops.

Chion Wolf / WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio

Hemp production. It's a growing field in Connecticut... and we mean that in the most literal sense. This hour, we learn about the state's newly seeded hemp industry and consider the challenges and opportunities of farming the plant on local land. 

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

A road that cuts through a dusty Connecticut farm bisects what could be the past and future of Connecticut farming. On one side is broadleaf tobacco, a staple crop of Connecticut farms for generations. On the other, delicate hemp plants, swaying in the July heat. 

Pxhere / Flickr Creative Commons

Where does your food come from? Most of us go to the grocery store to buy produce, dairy, and meat. And these items aren’t necessarily local; they may come from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

This hour we hear how more people are getting involved in producing the food they eat. It’s called “modern homesteading.”

House Gives Final Approval To Pilot Hemp Program

May 9, 2019
Hemp growing in a UConn greenhouse.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The House of Representatives gave unanimous approval late Wednesday to a bill authorizing a pilot program for the production and sale of hemp.

Cheryl Senter / NHPR

More women are getting counted as farmers in the state, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pxhere

Where does your food come from? Most of us go to the grocery store to buy produce, dairy, and meat. And these items aren’t necessarily local; they may come from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

This hour we hear how more people are getting involved in producing the food they eat. It’s called “modern homesteading.”

We hear from two Connecticut residents who’ve tried this practice. What drove them to pursue homesteading? And what barriers exist for Connecticut residents who want to live off the land? We find out.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut U.S. representatives are pushing for a legal clarification that would allow farmers, starting this year, to grow hemp, a non-intoxicating form of cannabis, which has been grouped with marijuana as an illegal Schedule 1 drug. 

David Siu / Creative Commons

Nobody likes the termite. They get into the wood in our homes that can lead to infuriating and expensive repairs. What's to like.

It turns out, there's a lot to like about the termite; scientists study how termites build their "mounds" for clues to solving some of the world's most pressing problems, like mitigating the effects of drought, building colonies on Mars, and the creation of biofuels. 

Amar Batra / Connecticut Public Radio

Tobacco has been grown in Connecticut for hundreds of years. But the number of acres has shrunk dramatically, from more than 20,000 a century ago down to do 2,000 today. Now, growers are facing economic pressure to develop their land.

A herd of sheep on Lebanon's town green were used to mow hay.
First Selectman's Office, Town of Lebanon

Every winter, water on the historic town green in the small town of Lebanon, Conn. freezes and becomes the perfect place for ice skating.

Carmen Baskauf / WNPR

Do you worry about how you’re everyday actions contribute to climate change? You may think about the carbon gas-burning cars are putting into the atmosphere, or coal-powered electricity in your houses.

But what about the food you eat?

Under a new trade agreement, U.S. dairy farmers would have greater access to the Canadian market. But a major dairy cooperative says Northeast farmers stand to gain more if a separate trade dispute with China is resolved.

Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public Radio

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told a meeting in Hartford the current disruptions to trade agreements are hard on farmers and must be resolved soon. But the Trump appointee didn’t go as far as to criticize his boss’s approach to trade issues.

David Siu / Creative Commons

Nobody likes the termite. They get into the wood in our homes that can lead to infuriating and expensive repairs. What's to like.

It turns out, there's a lot to like about the termite; scientists study how termites build their "mounds" for clues to solving some of the world's most pressing problems, like mitigating the effects of drought, building colonies on Mars, and the creation of biofuels. 

Jess Stone is the owner operator of Cold Spring Farm in Colchester, Connecticut.
Tucker Ives / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture doesn't track the number of farms that come and go. But last month, one farmer wrote on social media that she'd seen three farms within a 37 mile radius close -- in a matter of two weeks. And more have shut down since then.

Farm Watch / Creative Commons

The cost of milk has fallen and, with it, the spirit of Connecticut’s dairy industry.

This hour: disheartened and distressed. We look at why some local farmers are opting to leave the dairy business. We also find out what supports are available to those who remain in it.

Plus: next-gen agriculture. We learn how up-and-coming farmers are reshaping the landscape of food production.

And finally: tracking the U.S. farm bill. POLITICO reporter Liz Crampton joins us with an update from Capitol Hill

Spartacon3000 / Wikimedia Commons

The USDA recently proposed recommendations that would require foodmakers to label their products if they contain genetically modified ingredients.

Genetically modified crops have been portrayed as everything from a dangerous health risk to a miracle solution to tackle world food shortages. But among all this debate, many of us may not really know what a “genetically modified organism” (GMO) even is.

This hour, we ask: what does it actually mean for food to be genetically modified, and should we care if it is?

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

The House rejected a $867 billion farm bill on Friday — after spending days negotiating with key conservatives in an attempt to pass the bill without the support of Democrats.

The vote was 198-213. Every Democrat voted against the measure, as did 30 Republicans. Many of the GOP lawmakers are members of the House Freedom Caucus and voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support.

In yet another sign of the chronic milk glut that’s forced down prices paid to farmers, the federal government has allowed Northeast dairy co-ops to dump milk if they can’t find a market.

Spartacon3000 / Wikimedia Commons

The USDA recently proposed recommendations that would require foodmakers to label their products if they contain genetically modified ingredients.

Genetically modified crops have been portrayed as everything from a dangerous health risk to a miracle solution to tackle world food shortages. But among all this debate, many of us may not really know what a “genetically modified organism” (GMO) even is.

This hour, we ask: what does it actually mean for food to be genetically modified, and should we care if it is?

While Vermont dairy farmers are experiencing some of the hardest times in recent memory, their counterparts in Quebec are thriving. The reason is a complex system that regulates the supply of milk  and sets the price farmers receive.

While Vermont is by far the highest producing maple syrup state in the United States, 70 percent of the world's maple syrup is made in Québec.

And that's where the benchmark global price for bulk maple syrup — the price paid by processors to Vermont's maple syrup producers — is set each year by a powerful, but legal, cartel.

As the nation's dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of depressed milk prices, concerns are rising that many are becoming depressed themselves. The outlook for the next year is so bleak, it's heightening worries — especially in the Northeast — about farmer suicides.

Agri-Mark Inc., a dairy cooperative with about 1,000 members, saw three farmers take their own lives in the past three years. The most recent was last month. It's a very small sample, but very sharp and disturbing increase.

Organic dairy farmers are getting paid less because of an oversupply of their milk, a market glut that’s led one major organic buyer to delay signing on new farmers.

For dairy farms in New England, the outlook for milk prices is not good this year. The stress has been tied to suicides among dairy farmers.

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