Farming

Heather Niday/ WVPB

Ginseng, Goldenseal, Cohosh, Bloodroot, Ramps – all plants native to Appalachia and all appreciated around the world for their medicinal and culinary properties. In West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia, these plants have been harvested in the wild for generations. But over harvesting of these slow growing plants could diminish wild populations. The West Virginia Forest Farming Initiative takes a different approach. The program teaches residents how to raise botanicals on their own forested land for a source of income and as a way to preserve the forests. And for the folks involved, it’s doing way more than preserving plants.


Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

Ohio Valley farmers have received more than $100 million so far in federal relief payments to offset the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with potentially more payments on the way.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance program plans to distribute up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers, with farmers able to apply for relief through August. USDA data released Monday show 220,280 farmers across the country have already received $2,895,127,039 in total.

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue to hear from and about the youth in our region. In this show, we hear the perspective of a young farmer, and we also hear from one of our first place winners in this year’s West Virginia Public Broadcasting Writers Contest.

COVID-19 Takes A Toll On Our Food Supply

Jun 11, 2020
Lalena Price

The coronavirus highlights many of our vulnerabilities, including the system we use to get food from the farm to the table.  Lately, the pandemic has forced U.S. farmers to face the unthinkable. They plowed under perfectly good vegetables when schools and restaurants shut down and their market vanished. Livestock producers have euthanized hogs and chickens. They couldn’t get the meat to consumers when workers got sick and packing plants closed.

Cattle farmers are seeing increased local demand amid the pandemic.
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


Debby Dulworth has a lot of conversations with her cattle each day. She swings open a gate, driving the herd with repeated calls and the Hereford cattle, respond in kind with groans and snorts.

“They talk to me,” Dulworth said with a laugh, as the cows come bounding out into a fresh field of Kentucky fescue and buttercups. She’s been corralling them from pasture to pasture on her farm for decades near Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, nestled in a bend of the Ohio River.

Deep Mountain Farm

Just outside Fayetteville, West Virginia, there's a 42-acre farm that has just about everything -- chickens, lambs, sheep, produce and dogs. The latest addition is a litter of Great Pyrenees puppies, who will become guardian dogs for the sheep.

Christine Weirick owns and operates Deep Mountain Farm with her husband Chris Jackson and their two young daughters. 


Brittany Patterson / WVPB

To help decrease the spread of COVID-19, residents across the country, and here in West Virginia, are being asked to stay home, except to get the essentials such as food and medicine. Although the National Grocers Association assures there’s not a food shortage in the U.S., some store shelves are sparse. 

 

As spring unfolds across the Mountain State, the pandemic is driving an influx of West Virginians back to the garden and to some of the state’s local farmers. 

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia has long been known for its apple production. But apple farmers are struggling and orchards are disappearing.

We bring you a special report and discussion on the challenges faced by West Virginia’s farmers. We also bring you the latest news from the Capitol.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Resourceful. Self-reliant. These are some of the values many people who live in the mountains pride themselves on. But could we sustain ourselves?

Ohio Valley Farmers Cautiously Optimistic About U.S.-China Trade Deal

Jan 14, 2020
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Trump administration is set to sign a deal Wednesday, Jan. 15, with Chinese trade officials for what they call “Phase One” of a trade agreement after almost two years of false starts and costly, retaliatory tariffs. Ohio Valley farmers are cautiously optimistic the truce will be a turning point, but some are skeptical about the details about the partial deal.

Eric Douglas / WVPB

People have been decorating Christmas trees in their homes since the 16th century. It’s a tradition that began in Germany and spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Kentucky and West Virginia are among the states with the highest emissions of carbon dioxide per person. They also helped to block the federal government’s most ambitious effort to fight climate change.

Now, an analysis from the Center for Public Integrity finds that those two states were among the ones most often hit by natural disasters during the past decade. Scientists warn that a warming climate makes extreme weather – and disasters such as flash flooding – more likely.

Reporter Sydney Boles takes us to Pike County, in Kentucky’s coal country, where vulnerable communities have suffered repeated flooding. It’s a place where coal politics, climate policy and catastrophe all connect.

Scott Allen, who runs Pettit Creek Farms in bone-dry Bartow County, Ga., poses for a photo Oct. 7, 2019.
Jeff Martin / Associated Press

— Across a vast expanse of the South stretching from Texas to Maryland, there are growing concerns for the cattle, cotton and corn amid a worsening drought fueled by this summer’s record high temperatures.

One of the bullseyes marking the nation’s driest areas is Bartow County, Georgia, where extreme drought has kicked up buckets of dust and left cattle pastures bare. The farm country northwest of Atlanta is among the hardest hit spots in a dozen Southern states where more than 45 million residents are now living in some type of drought conditions, the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report shows.

Something odd is happening to streams and rivers on the high plains of Kansas and Colorado. Some have disappeared.

"We would go and visit these streams, and in many cases it's like a dirt bike channel. It's no longer functioning as a stream," says Joshuah Perkin, a biologist at Texas A&M University who studies the fish that live in these streams.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, many farmers wage a never-ending battle with weeds. “Pigweed” or as folks in Arkansas call it “Satan’s Weed” -- is one of the hardest to get rid of. 

Farmers across the nation are divided over the use of the controversial herbicide called Dicamba. The chemical has the tendency to drift and damage nearby crops and plants.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Us & Them host Trey Kay and his colleague Loretta Williams have been following the issue with their developing story called “Farm Wars.”

Ohio Valley Farmers Unsure About New Trump Trade Aid Payments

May 24, 2019
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

The U. S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday details of a second round of aid totaling $16 billion for farmers affected by the trade war with China. But some Ohio Valley farmers worry about the ongoing consequences of these payments and tariffs.

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.

Eric Douglas / WVPB

West Virginia is home to numerous beverage companies that brew beer, distill spirits and syrups and press cider. The state also boasts farmers who produce fruits and grains those bottlers could use.

The problem is the two groups are often disconnected.

The “Craft: Farm to Bottle Summit” in South Charleston earlier week this aimed to address that gap, bringing the two groups together and helping each understand the other’s needs. The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in Huntington organized the summit. More than 100 people attended.

Sprouting farms
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

This story is part of an episode of Inside Appalachia about projects aimed at spurring job growth in Appalachia.

On a recent Monday morning, as the rising sun burns off the low-hanging fog and fishermen haul in their morning catches from the Greenbrier River, at Sprouting Farms, the day is well underway.

Produce has been harvested and safely stored in a giant refrigerator. Employees are packaging cherry tomatoes into plastic clamshells, activities you might find at any of the farms that dot the Greenbrier Valley.

But while the daily tasks are handled at this production-scale vegetable farm, the crux of Sprouting Farms’ mission goes beyond the fields at hand.  

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.

Southern Foodways Alliance/ Gravy

Being a farmer isn’t easy. One woman in Georgia found that getting assistance as a black farmer can be especially tough.

Shirley Sherrod said she found discrimination in the federal government’s farm assistance programs, and she and other farmers fought back in the biggest class action lawsuit in U.S. history. Listen to the episode to hear the results of the lawsuit, and what it meant for farmers across the country.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the farm bill being debated in Congress could have significant effects well beyond farms -- including on our waterways.

Over the years, wetlands have been stripped and drained to grow crops. A program funded by the farm bill pays farmers to conserve wetlands, and more farmers are looking to take flood-prone land out of production. As the Ohio Valley ReSource's Nicole Erwin reports, that’s becoming more important in the Ohio Valley as floods become more frequent.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, with thousands of miles of new natural gas pipelines going in the ground in Appalachia and other regions, the government agency in charge of gas line infrastructure recently asked for input on how to improve the pipeline approval process. The comment period has been open since late April. As Nancy Andrews reports, hundreds of people and organizations have submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC.

Hogwash: Farmers Fear Trump Trade Disputes Are Damaging Ag Markets

Jul 16, 2018
Jimmy Tosh looks at hogs ready for the market.
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Jimmy Tosh sells a lot of pigs. He is owner and CEO of Tosh Farms, Tosh Pork, and Bacon By Gosh, in Henry County, Tennessee, and has 84 contracted barns in the region where farmers grow pigs for his products.

On a recent July day, Tosh craned over some 1,200 piglets and reflected on how recent market disturbances have affected his business.

Roxy Todd/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week on Inside Appalachia we’re going to listen back to an episode we originally aired in 2017, about veterans who are turning to traditional farming, for therapy.

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.


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. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, talks on renegotiating NAFTA are set for later this month and farm country is concerned about changes to the trade agreement. Nicole Erwin reports that pork producers in the Ohio Valley could have the most to lose in a trade dispute.

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