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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

Farm Bill Programs Target Aid for Smaller Farms

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The Farm Bill was passed in February. But now, piece by piece, it’s taking effect. We’re beginning to see how parts of the farm bill are doing more to help farmers go small.

The Farm Bill contains about half a trillion dollars in spending over five years. The vast majority of that pays for huge programs like food stamps and subsidized crop insurance. But this time around, Congress carved out a little more room for local and organic foods, and it’s starting to show.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture handed out more than $50 million to promote farmers markets and local food, and to research organic agriculture.

That includes:

-$1.9 million for organic research and extension outreach from Iowa State University

-$50,000 for Community Crops in Lincoln, Neb., to help beginning farmers

-$100,000 for Omaha non-profit No More Empty Pots to kick start a regional food hub

Those amounts hardly measure up to the billions spent to support commodity agriculture, but it is a significant increase over past farm bills. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said as big farms grow bigger, small farms need a place to compete.

“That smaller producer may have a hard time based on market prices that are dictated by the larger producers and the larger market,” Vilsack said. “So what we’re trying to do is create an opportunity for that small, local producer to be able to sell directly to a school or directly to a farmers market.”

Vilsack said having a mix of big and small farms will be better for the rural economy in the long run.