Agriculture

courtesy Still Hollow

Still Hollow Distillery isn’t close to any interstate exit. It’s in Randolph County, West Virginia, not far from the Pendleton County line, and it’s nestled in the high Allegheny mountains. You can only get there by driving curvy two-lane roads.  


June 5, 1859: The 'Big Frost' Kills Crops, Leads to Buckwheat Farming

Jun 5, 2019
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.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

 


On a recent Monday, students at James Monroe High School in Monroe County eat french bread pizza, corn, beans and mixed fruit. They also have three, locally sourced salad options to choose from: a spinach salad with bright red cherry tomatoes, a pre-made salad or a make-you-own salad bar.

"We hear that these foods look so much better, put together," said Kimberly Gusler, the high school's head cook. She said that since the school began using local salad greens and vegetables and fruits when available, students appear to be eating more of them.

"They love the way the salads look.”

Farm Wars

May 22, 2019
Organic farmer Shawn Peebles voicing his concern about dicamba to the Arkansas State Plant Board.
Loretta Williams

America’s trade war with China is fueling a long-running battle over weedkillers in American farm fields. It's a tough time to be an American farmer -- especially if you grow soybean. They are a $40 billion business in the U.S., but the price of soybeans plummeted last year because of the trade war. Soybean farmers are desperate to restore their profits and one way to do that is to boost their harvest.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

This is the first story in an occasional series exploring the links between addiction recovery and a recovering economy.

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal.

Sweet Equity: Ohio Valley Farmers Tapping Into Tradition

Apr 3, 2019
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

When Seth Long first began experimenting with maple syrup production, he tapped hollow pegs called spiles into individual trees, collected drips of sap in milk jugs, and carried each gallon down the the steep mountainside on foot.

Kentucky Called A 'Warning Signal' On SNAP Work Requirements

Apr 3, 2019
USDA

The federal government is considering a work requirement for some people who get food assistance through SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A new study uses Kentucky as an example of what that change could mean for the country.

The SNAP rules require 80 hours of work a month and cap assistance at three months over three years. This applies to able-bodied adults without children. The rules have been around for a while but hadn’t been enforced until recently.

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

Mick Henderson runs the Commonwealth Agri-Energy ethanol plant in west Kentucky. He said the past year for U.S. ethanol producers, including in the Ohio Valley, has been rough.

“We’ve just passed our 15th anniversary just now, and this is going to be one of our weakest years,” Henderson said.

Eliza Wilhelm loves her Cub Cadet tractor because it goes super, super fast. And her love of riding tractors has become something that unites her whole family. 

Red or Green? Which Tractor Color is the Best?

Mar 20, 2019

In the market for a tractor? Want to buy one? But which tractor is better? At the Preston County Antique Tractor Show, opinions are running hot to find the answer to the infamous question: red or green?

Distress Grows For Ohio Valley Farmers As Trade Deals Stall

Mar 18, 2019
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrung some Ohio Valley industries.

Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.

Ohio Valley Farmers, Electric Cooperatives Push Back On Trump’s Budget Cut Proposals

Mar 18, 2019
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Kentucky Soybean Farmer Jed Clark, like many Ohio Valley farmers, is in a tighter financial situation because tariffs from the trade war and market forces have depressed crop prices.

“We’ve had a collapse in our grain markets,” Clark said. “We’re seeing some of the lowest commodity prices for wheat we’ve seen in a long time.”

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the Trump administration’s trade talks continue with China and other countries, farmers are feeling the pain from the president’s year-long trade war. Tariffs on agricultural goods are compounding problems caused by low crop prices and over-production. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports that small farms are suffering the most.

Caitlin Tan

This week on Inside Appalachia, we take off-the-beaten-path tour of some of the region’s alternative cultures and economies. We’ll visit a factory where workers are reviving the art of glassmaking. We’ll hear how farmers and chefs are returning to some of our old-fashioned recipes for inspiration and attempting to reshape our region’s economy in the process.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley has seen its share of workplace disruption with job losses in manufacturing and energy sectors. But a recent report warns that thousands of the region’s service, transportation, office and warehouse jobs could also be at risk. This time the threat is a coming wave of automation. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Becca Schimmel explores what automation could mean and how the region might adapt.

We turn our attention to agriculture needs in West Virginia. Host Suzanne Higgins chats with Jennifer Greenlief, Assistant Commissioner at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture about the hemp industry in West Virginia, agriculture jobs, and funding needs to the department’s facilities.

Hemp’s Heyday: It’s Finally Legal. Now, Can Ohio Valley Farmers Cash In?

Feb 11, 2019
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, store owner Doug Flight tries to position himself in front of a camera crew.

His experience with growing and selling hemp spans years. But memorizing lines for what he says could be the first hemp TV commercial in the state is another issue.

“I know, I grow,” Flight says to the camera. “Is that it?” Flight asked.

“It’s ‘I know because I grow,’” someone with the camera crew said back.

The Farm Service Agency office in Mayfield, Kentucky, is so quiet you can hear the tick of the Department of Agriculture-branded clock on the wall.

Courtesy White House Video

As President Donald Trump addressed farmers at a national conference Monday Ohio Valley agriculture leaders said they are standing by his effort to renegotiate trade deals. But some leaders cautioned that costly tariffs on farm products need to end soon.

President Trump doubled down on his fight for better trade deals during his speech to American Farm Bureau Federation members at their convention in New Orleans.

Roxy Todd/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Can apples grow on an abandoned mine site? That’s a question the West Virginia National Guard is spending more than $5 million to find out.

West Virginia was given $30 million in 2016 to invest in economic development projects across the state. The money came from the 2015 omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress. There was a catch, though—groups would have to build their projects on former Abandoned Mine Land sites. 


On this West Virginia Morning, agriculture -- even on a small scale -- could have a big impact in West Virginia’s economy. We’ll hear about one program trying to spur that growth.

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, federal funds to help revitalize coal country have poured in from Washington, D.C. And in recent years, a new federal push has brought millions of dollars worth of funding to projects that are intended to create jobs and retrain people in coal country for work in other fields. There are also a number of state initiatives to help generate job growth. But have these projects worked? 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, across the nation, more women are becoming farmers compared with  previous generations. That’s even more true in some Appalachian states, including West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Chris Williams introduces us to several women who are part of this trend.

Reining In Abuse: Lax Laws On Animal Welfare Affect Pets And People

Sep 5, 2018
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Suzanna Johnson is an education officer with the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue in Camner, Kentucky. Johnson is looking after a pregnant horse she rescued recently.

“Be good,” she instructs the mare, named CC, and pats her belly. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the U.S. and Mexico have reached a preliminary deal to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. As Becca Schimmel reports the emerging agreement has big implications for agriculture and automakers in the Ohio Valley.

Win For Wetlands: Program Helps Farmers Conserve More Flood-Prone Land

Aug 4, 2018
The Relict darter is endemic to Bayou de Chien in west Kentucky.
Bec Feldhaus Adams

West Kentucky farmer Judy Wilson says her family is a bit of a sundry bunch.

“We love the farm, but we also love all the nature,” she said.

Wilson is driving down a back-country road that divides two fields, to the left is her soybean crop and to the right is 102 acres that she has placed in the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program, something her husband always wanted.

Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Facebook

West Virginia has been awarded a $400,000 federal grant to provide agriculture training for military veterans.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

"Be brave, have fun,” Jennie Boggess instructs as she leads a room full of young students at Camp Curiosity, hosted by the Daviess County, Kentucky, Public Schools.

Boggess is the development director for the Owensboro Dance Theatre and today she is preparing students for a finale performance to cap the four-week summer camp.

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.  

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