Agriculture

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

LaRue County, Kentucky, dairy farmer Gary Rock sits in his milking parlor, overlooking what is left of his 95 cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said.

Trade War Fears Have Ohio Valley Soy Growers Nervous

Apr 10, 2018
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

China buys more than half of the soybeans grown in the Ohio Valley. So China’s threat this week to place a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soy means farmers would be caught in the crosshairs of a trade war.

Even though tariffs haven’t taken effect, markets are already showing signs that commodities traders are growing nervous. The tariff anxiety comes as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits the region this week.  

Iraq War Veteran Finds Peace Through Maple Farming

Mar 16, 2018
West Virginia Department of Agriculture

This story was produced by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture as part of a collaboration among the agency, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Inside Appalachia.

Iraq War veteran Jeremy Ray was looking for a hobby to help fill his time. What he found was a way to heal his wounds. Ray is the proud owner of Gauley River Maple, and this year is his first season as a maple producer. He heard about maple syrup through the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program, aimed at retraining veterans for careers in agriculture. 


On The Legislature Today, host Andrea Lannom chats with West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt on the role agriculture plays in diversifying the state’s economy. We also hear the latest on the debate over Public Employees Insurance Agency issues.

Still from White House video

When President Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau annual convention this month he focused on the regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts that motivated many farmers to help vote him into office.

“We are doing a job for you,” Trump told an auditorium filled with farmers. “You’re seeing it like nobody else: regulation, death tax, so much.”

Dale Moore said farmers look to Trump for a better deal. Moore directs public policy for the Farm Bureau. He said net income for farmers hasn’t been this low since the Great Depression

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, during a special session of the West Virginia Legislature last month, lawmakers passed a bill that makes redeveloping historic buildings in the state more viable, financially. As Liz McCormick reports, the bill had widespread support from both sides of the aisle, but some are concerned it doesn’t go far enough.

Tradition so Rich, so Fragile, so Sweet

Nov 7, 2017
Farmers Donnie Tenney (left) and Charlie Radabaugh inspect sorghum canes at Tenney’s farm in Tallmansville, W. Va. before harvesting and processing into sorghum syrup.
Mike Costello / 100 Days in Appalachia

Gone from most kitchen pantries, sorghum keeps connections strong in some rural communities. Just a few miles down a narrow, winding road from Buckhannon, the seat of Upshur County, West Virginia, a carved wooden sign welcomes visitors to Tallmansville. At first glance, there’s not much to the rural village of around 400 residents, but I’ve spent enough time in these hills to know what little first glance says about a place.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the poultry industry is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow faster work speeds at some facilities that slaughter and package chickens. The industry says a new inspection program allows them to process hundreds of birds per minute. But as Nicole Erwin reports, worker and food safety advocates worry about higher speed in an industry with an already spotty safety record.

Kasey Jones/ Jonesborough Farmers Market

A series of training seminars will be held around West Virginia aimed at boosting farmers markets and farm production.

The first seminar will be held Tuesday at the Country Inn in Berkeley Springs. Additional seminars are scheduled for Nov. 9 at Jackson's Mill near Jane Lew and for Dec. 14 at the State Fairgrounds in Fairlea.

courtesy Emily Hilliard

Here in Appalachia, it’s apple season. And that means apple growers are sending this year’s crop to farmers markets and grocery stores. But the majority of the apples grown here get sent to manufacturers to be used in apple sauce and apple juice. By the way, did you know that Golden Delicious Apples originated right here in West Virginia?  In fact, apples are our state fruit. 

Ron Miller, Senator Ron Miller
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Ron Miller has resigned his seat in the West Virginia Senate to work on agriculture issues in the administration of Gov. Jim Justice.

Miller, a Democrat from Greenbrier County, resigned Thursday.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering its approval of a controversial new form of herbicide that farmers say is damaging millions of acres of soybeans. Some 40 complaints have come from Ohio Valley farmers. Nicole Erwin reports that growers are looking for answers, and some suspect a quirk of the region’s climate may be increasing the risk of harm.

Hay, Farm, Bale of Hay
Pixabay

West Virginia officials are warning farmers about the possibility that their hay could be contaminated by recent flooding.

The state Agriculture Department said in a news release feeding contaminated hay to animals can be dangerous.

Seth Anderson / via Wikimedia Commons

Two new tomato varieties created by West Virginia University researchers have been named Mountaineer Pride and Mountaineer Delight.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

Four West Virginia communities were highlighted in Washington, D.C. this week during a national summit that supports local food initiatives across the country. Local Foods, Local Places is a federal initiative meant to help communities create healthy and economically vibrant neighborhoods.

Jim Justice
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Governor Jim Justice says West Virginia has opportunities to expand farming and jobs with fertile soil and good climate, rainfall and temperatures for growing, calling for state's reconstituted Agriculture Advisory Board to advance them.

High Hop(e)s: Craft Brewing Has Farmers Betting On Hops

Jun 26, 2017
HopAlong Farm in Howard, OH

The acres devoted to growing hops doubled in the U.S. in just the past five years and the trade group Hop Growers of America estimates that 95 percent of that market belongs to farmers along the West Coast. But the craft beer craze is changing the direction for hop farms by generating demand for more locally sourced ingredients, and Ohio Valley farmers like Wes Cole want in on the action.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, farmers are looking to the craft brewing craze to boost a new crop in the region: locally grown hops. We hear from the Ohio Valley ReSource's Nicole Erwin. 

Also, June is Gay Pride Month. Us & Them podcast producer Trey Kay speaks with Charleston resident Bill Richards about living at a time when sodomy was a criminal offense in an excerpt from an episode titled “Sodomy, Stonewall & Pride”.

Winter in Dolly Sods Wilderness
Adobe Stock

On June 5, the Big Frost of 1859—as it’s remembered—hit what would soon become the new state of West Virginia. The unseasonable cold snap killed wheat crops and fruit trees, leading farmers in higher elevations to begin planting hardier crops, like potatoes. The late-season frost even inspired Preston County farmers to start sowing a resilient crop that would become their staple: buckwheat.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley ReSource takes a closer look at small-scale farming in the region. It's one of the most dangerous industries and yet one of the least government-regulated. Find out what's being done to mitigate this growing hazard.

Photo courtesy of Jeanna Glisson

Jeanna Glisson has two lives: her life before August 20th, 2007, and her life after. That day is so vivid, Glisson can still hear the sounds of her son’s feet coming down the stairs.

“I remember Derek when he got up that morning, he was on the phone talking to my dad. He was excited,” Glisson said.

Cecelia Mason / WV Public Radio

The federal government has awarded more than $400,000 to West Virginia University to improve sustainable agriculture and help rural communities thrive.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito announced the $402,890 award in a news release this month.

Manchin said the university, through its Extension Services program, invests in rural communities across the state, creating a great benefit for West Virginia.

Farmers in the Ohio Valley are waiting to see how President Trump’s choice to lead the Agriculture Department might affect their fortunes. Concerns over trade have held up a confirmation vote for nominee Sonny Perdue, and trade is also on the minds of regional growers.

Farmers here have been big winners under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and while farm country voted overwhelmingly for Trump, his talk about scrapping NAFTA has farmers like Jed Clark nervous.

Robert Thompson
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House of Delegates are looking for ways to help grow the state’s agriculture industry. A bill in the chamber’s Agriculture Committee would require the state to purchase more locally grown food.

House Bill 2566 creates the West Virginia Fresh Food Act. As introduced, the bill would require state funded institutions to purchase at least 20 percent of their produce from West Virginia farmers.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll travel to Sugar Bottom Farm in Clay County West Virginia to meet Veteran Eric Grandon, the first veteran to go through the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture program.

Stopping Superbug: A New Farm Rule Targets Antibiotic Resistance

Jan 25, 2017
Nicole Erwin

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control offers a stark example of the declining power of medicine’s most important weapons against infectious disease. The CDC noted that a patient who died at a Nevada hospital last year had an infection that was resistant to 26 different antibiotic treatments. That’s essentially the entire antibiotic arsenal doctors had.

picking tomatoes
Laura Elizabeth Pohl / Bread for the World

On Nelson Key Road in Murray, Kentucky, lies a 30-acre tobacco farm and there sits the road’s namesake, Nelson Key himself. He’s just at the end of this year’s harvest, which was brought in with the help of migrant workers.

“I used American workers up until 1991 then I went to the migrant workers and I've had them ever since,” he explained.

Paw Paw
Joey Aloi

Those who’ve eaten a pawpaw before often say that the creamy, tropical fruit resembles a mix of a mango and a banana, or a mango and an avocado. They often can’t believe that the fruit is native to Appalachia.

Data Farming: How Big Data Is Revolutionizing Big Ag

Sep 19, 2016
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

It’s harvest time and a semi full of corn just pulled onto the scales at Seven Springs Farm in Cadiz, Kentucky. On the scale, the analytics work begins: moisture content, weight, production rates, and more are all recorded.

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