farming

Ian Allenden / 123rf Stock Photo

Farmers who want to learn how to create and use spreadsheets for farm records can attend one of the workshops offered by the University of Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture.

Laura Elizabeth Pohl / Bread for the World

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is sponsoring legislation that would reduce paperwork and streamline worker visa programs used by U.S. farmers. The Bowling Green Republican said the measure would be a major help for the commonwealth’s agriculture industry.

Matt Markgraf / WKMS

Murray State officials on Wednesday ceremonially introduced five foundational partners that have made major contributions to the new Hutson School of Agriculture Center for Agricultural Hemp.  

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture census released April 11 shows mid-sized farms in Kentucky farms are on the decline.

comer.house.gov, cropped

Republican Congressman James Comer of Kentucky's First District says being one of the only farmers in Congress and being a former state agriculture commissioner made him a frontrunner to serve on the conference committee that will negotiate the final version of the Farm Bill.

On a beautiful sunny day recently in south Lancaster County, Pa., farmer Abner Stolztfus and seven of his eight children were inside, bottling yogurt in a room next to the barn. "The younger one is only 2 months old, so she's not working out here yet," he said, laughing.

Stolztfus and his family own Cedar Dream dairy farm in the town of Peach Bottom in southeast Pennsylvania. He and his kids milk 50 cows twice a day — at 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. His family has been farming for generations.

"I learned milking cows before I started going to school," he said.

Bob Fitzgerald lives on the edge of a flat field that's just a few feet above sea level. It's the same spot on Maryland's Eastern Shore where his ancestors settled before the U.S. became a country.

"The land grant came into the family in 1666," he says.

When he was a child his parents grew tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans. Now nearing 80, Fitzgerald plants corn and soybeans to supply local chicken farms.

In American farm country, a grass-roots movement is spreading, a movement to keep more roots in the soil. (Not just grass roots, of course; roots of all kinds.) Its goal: Promoting healthy soil that's full of life.

I met three different farmers recently who are part of this movement in one way or another. Each of them took me to a field, dug up some dirt, and showed it off like a kind of hidden treasure.

"You can see how beautiful that soil [is]," said Deb Gangwish, in Shelton, Neb. "I'm not a soil scientist, but I love soil!"

Updated at 4:45 pm ET

President Trump thanked America's farmers for their political support on Monday and unveiled a plan designed to help revive fortunes in struggling rural areas. At the same time, the president is pursuing trade and immigration policies that could be harmful to farmers' bottom lines.

A few years ago, Kansas City restaurateur Anton Kotar surveyed the local and national restaurant scenes and concluded his town's reputation as a steakhouse paradise had slipped.

The problem, he says, is the way conventional beef is raised – bulked up with grain on feedlots, making it cheap and plentiful and changing what Americans expect to taste.

"I think some of our best steakhouses chased the quality of the beef to the bottom," Kotar says.

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