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Grant Gerlock

Harvest Public Media Reporter

Harvest Public Media's reporter at NET News, where he started as Morning Edition host in 2008. He joined Harvest Public Media in July 2012. Grant has visited coal plants, dairy farms, horse tracks and hospitals to cover a variety of stories. Before going to Nebraska, Grant studied mass communication as a grad student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed his undergrad at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor, but has taken up city life in Lincoln, Neb.

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Grant Gerlock /Harvest Public Media

During the season of Lent, many Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays. Fish, though, is considered fair game, so the Friday night fish fry has become an annual tradition at churches across the country.  Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter you’ll find hundreds of hungry parishioners lining up at church fish frys around the Midwest.  All of that frying uses up vegetable oil that can just go to waste, but there are some people putting it to good use.

At the Lee Valley consignment sale near Tekamah, Neb., dozens of used tractors, planters and other equipment were on the auction block for farmers trying to save a few extra dollars. It was a muddy day, with trucks and four-wheelers leaving deep black ruts — fitting conditions for an industry wallowing in bad news.

For the Midwesterner who likes to eat local, this time of year is a challenge. Browse the produce shelves in middle America — or any place where snow falls in winter — and you'll find carrots from Mexico and peppers from Peru.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The middle of winter is when the stream of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the Midwest begins to freeze up.  Nicole Saville knows first-hand. Saville is the produce manager at the grocery co-op Open Harvest.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

By some estimates, producing our food consumes about a fifth of the nation's energy supply. It takes a lot of diesel to move tractors and semis around the farm, and electricity to pump water and dry grain. But some farmers are trying to cut back on the coal and gas they use and make our food system more energy efficient.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Wheat is one of the world's staple foods and a big crop on the Great Plains, but it has been left in the dust. A corn farmer can grow 44%  more bushels per acre than 30 years ago, but only 16%  more wheat. That's led many farmers to make a switch.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Des Moines, Iowa, made news this year when the city announced it would sue three counties in a legal battle over fertilizer. The city's water supply from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers often surpasses the legal limit for nitrates (10 mg/L), which commonly appear in water contaminated by runoff from farm fields.

Grant Gerlock /Harvest Public Media

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

(Courtesy NET Television)

All week, Harvest Public Media's series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it.  The typical American puts away around 200 pounds of beef, pork, and poultry every year . That's true in many of the wealthiest countries. But developing countries are showing a growing appetite for meat.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the Midwest are facing a situation they haven't seen in years. Grain prices are down. After some of the most lucrative growing seasons they've ever seen, some producers could lose money on this year's crop. That could slow down the rural economy.

Matt Brooks for NET News

Farmers count on chemical herbicides to keep their fields weed-free. But an international panel of scientists who studied two of the most heavily used farm chemicals to determine whether they could cause cancer said exposure to weed-killing chemicals could come at a cost.

Rodeo season is getting into full swing and at most rodeos, bull riding is the main event. But when the bull ride ends, the work begins for rodeo bullfighters, and a young bullfighter is making a name in the business by putting himself in the middle of the action.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The federal government's complex set of rules meant to spur a renewable fuels industry has fallen behind one of its main goals: cut greenhouse emissions from gasoline.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Meat sold in the U.S. has to have a label telling in which country the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization confirmed Monday that those country of origin labels (COOL) on meat sold in the U.S. violate international law.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Thousands of people get sick every year from E. coli bacteria in their food. While the beef industry has gone to great lengths to limit illnesses in meat, the industry has been slow to adopt an E. coli vaccine that could keep people from getting sick.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Just over a year ago, Tracy Dethlefs learned she has stage 1 breast cancer. Since then, she estimates she has charted some 10,000 miles traveling from her farm near Loup City in central Nebraska to area hospitals for treatment. Every surgery, round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment was a road trip.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon muffins is in the air.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

You’ve probably seen, but may not have noticed, labels on the meat at your grocery store that say something like “Born, Raised, & Harvest in the U.S.A.” or “Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the U.S.”

These country of origin labels, as they are known, are part of an ongoing international trade dispute that has swept up Midwest ranchers. And they may not be long for store shelves.

Courtesy USDA NRCS South Dakota

Scientists have noticed a change in the atmosphere.

Overduebook/Flickr

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.

Pat Aylward/NET News

It’s a hot summer day outside of Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He’s wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

When they heard Dan Hromas’ truck rolling in, the chickens came strutting.

Sarah McCammon for Harvest Public Media

Cargill, one of the country’s largest pork producers, announced Monday it will stop using gestation crates.

eXtension Farm Energy/Flickr

Biofuels made in the Midwest from corn stover -- the leftovers of harvested corn plants -- might be worse for global warming than gasoline in the short term.

Stephen D/Flickr

An alarming number of farmers in the U.S. take their own lives, according to the magazine Newsweek.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to keeping data secure, farmers are worried about some of the same issues as the rest of us.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

For the first time in nearly 10 years, the nation’s beef herd might be poised for growth, which could mean relief from rising meat prices.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Both supporters and opponents of ethanol have had a lot to say since the EPA announced a proposal to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard, the rules that force oil companies to buy and use certain levels of ethanol.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Nancy Friesen sat nervously at the controls of a giant John Deere combine that made the corn stalks look like match sticks.

Corn prices are down and the farm bill is stalled in Congress. So there's a lot of uncertainly in the air as harvest season gets into full swing across the Midwest. But this is a time of year when farm families like the Friesens in Henderson, Neb., come together to focus on the big task at hand: the corn harvest.

Everyone in the family has a job to do.

"Like my dad — he drives auger wagon," Curt Friesen says. "He drives auger wagon only. That's all he's done since 1976, I think. ... My wife, Nancy, she drives the combine; that's her job."

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