Through interviews with the farmers and fishermen responsible for growing and catching our food, we provide the inside track on issues ranging from animal welfare to the role of technology and innovation in feeding a growing world population.
Episode 1: Family Farms, featuring 4th Generation Cotton Farmers and an Alaskan Fisherman
In Episode 1 of the series, we focus on America’s family farms, which make up 98% of all farms in the United States.
We hear from Jay Hardwick, a cotton farmer from Louisiana who’s in the process of handing over the reins to his sons – the fourth generation, and native Alaskan Bill Thomas who has been a commercial fisherman for 52 years.
And we talk about the importance of leaving the land in better shape for the next generation and learn about responsible fisheries management in Alaska, where sustainability has been part of the State Constitution since 1959. Read the Show Notes from Episode 1 (pdf).
Episode 2: Animal Welfare
Just because the U.S. does things differently doesn’t mean that its animal care practices aren’t as robust as more regulated countries, as our experts explain.
We also have a real-life example of animal care in action – a dairy farm offering the ultimate in cow comfort, from waterbed mattresses to a milking robot. Read the Show Notes from Episode 2 (pdf).
Listen now to hear from:
- Tina Hinchley, a dairy farmer from Cambridge, Wisconsin
- Cheyenne McEndaffer from the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and a former food safety animal welfare officer
- Tiffany Lee, Director of Animal Care and Compliance at Clemens Food Group, a pork production company, and a trained veterinarian
Episode 3: Technology and Innovation: from GMOs to Precision Agriculture
Featuring expert views and real farmer experiences, this episode considers the differing approaches between the U.S. and Europe and how technology could play a major role in sustainable food production, particularly in Europe’s “Farm to Fork” strategy.
We talk GMOs, the cost benefits of variable rate technologies and how farmers everywhere want access to the best tools but sometimes politics stands in the way. Here’s a sneak preview (video) of episode 3, as well as the Show Notes (pdf).
Listen now to hear from:
- Marie-Cécile Damave, an agronomist, who is Head of Innovation and International Affairs at French agricultural think tank, agriDées.
- Benno van der Laan, an expert in government relations and issues management who has worked with American farm groups for more than 25 years on issues associated with agricultural technologies.
- Monte Petersen, a fourth-generation soybean and corn farmer from North Dakota who is a strong advocate for GMOs.
- Peter Hvidsten, a fifth-generation farmer from Northwest Minnesota who uses technologies including variable rate fertilizing, GPS autosteer and reduced tillage.
Episode 4: A Deep Dive into Water Conservation
We travel from Weiner, Arkansas to the central valley of California to find out how some of America’s farmers and producers are rising to the challenge of climate change and extreme weather by implementing water efficiency measures on their land.
We speak to an Arkansas rice farmer who describes his pioneering approach to irrigation as a giant mathematical equation. We also hear from a California almond grower who has implemented no fewer than 5 water-saving practices, from strategic irrigation to municipal water recycling (or potty to plate, as she calls it!). Read the Show Notes from Episode 4 (pdf).
Tune in now to hear more about the intricacies of multi-inlet rice irrigation, how whole orchard recycling boosts the water-holding capacity of soil, and a future that includes groundwater banking.
Episode 5: Soil Health, featuring a soil scientist, a cotton farmer and an organic farmer
What is soil heath? Why is it important? And how can it be improved?
We speak to Professor Michelle Wander, a soil scientist at the University of Illinois whose entire career has been dedicated to understanding soil stewardship, and we hear from two award-winning farmers:
Cotton farmer Barry Evans, Field to Market’s Farmer of the Year
A fourth-generation cotton grower in the Texas panhandle, the heart of America’s historic Dust Bowl, Barry has experienced the dangers of blowing topsoil first hand. He shares his resilient approach to dryland farming and how he rises to the dual challenges of water and wind erosion of his soil.
Organic farmer Amy Bruch, The Organic Trade Association’s Organic Farmer of the Year
A follower of the Albrecht Kinsey principles of soil fertility, Amy is credited with evolving her family operation in York County, Nebraska into one of the most cutting-edge organic farms in the country. She talks to us about intentional soil balancing and how, by feeding the soil, she’s feeding the plants and achieving optimal yields. Read the Show Notes from Episode 5 (pdf).
Tune in to the latest episode of This is U.S. Sustainability.