farming

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The drive behind a massive water development project in southwestern Utah, the Lake Powell Pipeline, shows no signs of slowing even after the Colorado River Basin states signed a new agreement this spring that could potentially force more conservation or cutbacks.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jason Carter

Governor Mark Gordon has signed into law a bill that approves funding for a regulatory program to grow and sell hemp.

Industrial Hemp
Mountain Xpress

Many Wyoming farmers and ranchers are discovering that switching to organic methods makes their products more valuable on the market, but they don't always know how to get those products out to consumers.

Last year’s farm bill made it legal to grow and transport hemp in the U.S. But a recent seizure in Idaho this month illustrates the confusion over its legality in states, especially those with a hemp cultivation ban on the books.

 


Taylar Stagner

Rural communities have issues getting fresh nutritious foods in the best of circumstances. But in Native communities, it can sometimes be next to impossible especially if you are on a fixed income.

The second round of payments to farmers affected by President Trump’s trade war with China will soon get sent out. The application deadline for growers is Jan. 15.

But the bulk of that money is largely skipping our region.


Public Domain

Ranchers and farmers living in the Mountain West are vulnerable to all kinds of things—drought, fluctuating crop prices, trade wars—and in part because of those things - depression and suicide. But there's some help out there, from an unlikely source.


Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

Warmer temperatures across the region from climate change are making insect pests hungrier. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Some Montana farmers are hoping to hear some good news on trade as President Donald Trump brings his campaign to Billings tonight.

Cooper McKim

It’s a hot day south of Wheatland, near the small town of Chugwater. Dirt kicks up around passing cars on a long driveway as the sunbeams gold on waving fields of wheat. At the end is the Baker Farm, with old water tanks and rusted antique farm vehicles in front of the home. 

Hay prices are spiking this year, driven up by a drought-induced shortage of the crop. It’s affecting ranchers across the board, but horse owners in particular are feeling the pinch. Horses eat higher quality hay, so it’s harder to get. It’s forcing horse owners in Colorado to buy more hay from neighboring states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana and that’s driving the cost up even more.  


Caitlin Youngquist

The University of Wyoming (UW) is embarking on a new age by increasing its focus on economic development and entrepreneurship. One new project is taking this vision even further by trying to develop a new niche agricultural market for the state by producing first-grains, and the key to this innovation is actually ancient. 

Tennessee Watson

Farmworkers feed us, and to do so they travel around the country following the harvest. For their kids, that means moving from school to school. Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson found there’s a system in place to help these students, and brought us a story from North Dakota. To learn more about why we heard about one kid in North Dakota, Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard spoke with Tennessee about her reporting.

Tennessee Watson


Angel, a tall, lanky 14-year-old, dribbles down the basketball court of the school gymnasium in Manvel, North Dakota. Realizing he’s unmarked he goes for the three-pointer. It’s a nice arching shot, but the ball bounces tenuously on the rim and doesn’t go in.

Every day, about 19 people move to Boise. And that growth is creating a housing crunch in the valley.

The House of Representatives passed its newest version of the farm bill this week. It includes stricter work requirements for people who get food stamps.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may seem like an unlikely champion for an illegal substance, but the Kentucky Republican just added the legalization of marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin, hemp, to the Senate farm bill. The industrial hemp business is increasingly seen as an economic savior and substitute for vulnerable industries like mining, especially in Colorado, one of the first states in the nation to make hemp legal at the state level.

Public Domain / Jean Beaufort

The House did not pass its version of a farm bill last month, but the Senate may have a better shot this week when they consider the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

National Park Service

Japan is considering hitting back against the U.S. in retaliation for America's steel and aluminum tariffs. A Japanese levy could hurt our region's agricultural industry.

According to a monthly survey, farmers across the U.S. aren’t feeling too optimistic these days.  

https://torange.biz/27249.html via Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The 5th Annual High Plains Organic Conference will take place at the end of this month in Cheyenne, with presentations from agricultural producers, scientists, and policy experts.

The first day will provide an overview of programs that pay farmers for using organic practices and the rules for getting certified. On the second day, participants will discuss topics like choosing seeds, improving soil quality, and livestock health.

Pioneer Cunningham Ranch Historic Cabin Wyoming
CC0 Public Domain

Organizations in the region are encouraging ranchers and farmers to think ahead about how to pass their land on to the next generation so the way of life doesn’t disappear. As property values outpace the potential revenue from agriculture, it’s harder for families to pass down their land or even sell it to another rancher. 

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

A survey of rural bankers in ten Great Plains states says their biggest worry in the coming year is farm and ranch foreclosures.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the problem is that beef and other agriculture commodity prices continue to be so low and that could lead to a fairly sharp upturn in foreclosures in 2018. Goss said Wyoming has a double whammy since energy prices continue to be sluggish, too. He said that in turn would hurt rural banks.

Tennessee Watson

Farmworker families often have to move from state to state to find work, and that makes school challenging for their kids. For over 40 years the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) ran a program to support this vulnerable student population, but that has come to an end.

Wyoming’s sugar beet harvest once was a big draw for migrant workers. On a tour of the farmland surrounding Torrington, Simon Lozano remembered a time when the fields were bustling.

“It was like 90 percent beets,” he said pointing out of the window of his truck.  

 

The cold, wet spring is delaying crop planting for farmers around Wyoming. Normally, almost 80 percent of sugar beets have been planted by now. But only 56 percent has been planted so far this year. 

Jeremiah Vardiman is an educator for the University of Wyoming’s northwest extension in Powell. He said farmers were finally able to get into the fields to plant most of the barley crop. But the plants aren’t growing very fast because it’s too cold.

Baylen J. Linnekin

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, giving the state’s farmers and ranchers the most flexible food rules in the nation...making it possible for them sell things direct to consumers that are illegal elsewhere, like unpasteurized milk, poultry, jams, and other foods. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked with the author of the new book Biting the Hands That Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, about Wyoming’s Food Freedom Act, and just how common this level of deregulation is in other states.

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, allowing the state’s food producers to sell an unprecedented number of products often illegal in other states, like unpasteurized milk and poultry, direct to consumers.

But on September 21, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors required a vendor at the Gillette farmer’s market to dump all of his containers of chicken chili. State Representative Tyler Lindholm worked closely with the USDA to get the law passed and said he’s trying to figure out what happened so the state’s producers can be in compliance going forward.

Maggie Mullen

Bright Agrotech, an indoor farming technology company based in Laramie, introduced a first-of-its-kind lighting system on Thursday.

CEO Nate Storey says indoor farmers depend on artificial light in the grow houses. But where there is light, there is also heat.

CC0 Public Domain

With more people eating gluten-free diets and more countries growing their own wheat, Wyoming growers are getting stuck with more product than they can sell.

Weather conditions in the last few years have allowed Wyoming wheat producers to grow lots of wheat they used to be able sell to around the world. But Wyoming Wheat Market Commission Director Keith Kennedy says many countries, like those in Eastern Europe, are now growing their own wheat. He says the ratio of how much wheat the state has to how much can be sold is the highest it’s been since the farm crisis of the 80’s.

It isn’t easy for farmers in Wyoming’s arid climate to make a healthy profit on their crops, but at a conference next week in Cheyenne, farmers can learn how organic methods could help their bottom line.

University of Wyoming soil science professor Jay Norton is one of the organizers. He says the conference will offer a full schedule of talks focused on irrigated and dryland food production, among other topics.

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