farming

If Republicans in Congress have their way, millions of people who get food aid through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will have to find a job or attend job training classes for about 20 hours each week, or lose their benefits.

Flickr / unitedsoybean

As the United States and China propose tariffs on one another, possibly leading to a trade war, one Oklahoma grain specialist is urging Oklahoma agricultural producers to stay focused on the long-term.

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Businesses across the U.S. are making all sorts of calculations right now trying to figure out what it would mean for them if these tariffs do happen. One of the people doing the math is Mark McHargue.

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.

When the worst of Irma's fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida's extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country's biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. "The eyewall came right over our main production area," McAvoy says.

You've heard that American agriculture loves trade. And it's easy to see why: Under NAFTA, American farmers have quadrupled their exports to Canada and Mexico and the two nations rank second and third, after China, as markets for U.S. farm goods.

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight mesh-covered plastic frame that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she'll sell these chickens to customers at local markets.

The demand for beef, pork and chicken raised on smaller farms closer to home is growing. Now, some Midwest farmers, like Johnson, are exploring how to graze livestock to meet those demands while still earning a profit.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near Columbus, Neb., for decades, but now he is planning to take a huge gamble.

The big-box retailer Costco is building a new chicken-processing plant in Fremont, Neb., about an hour away from Mueller's farm. The company plans to slaughter 2 million birds per week. To raise all those chickens, Costco is recruiting about 120 farmers to sign on as contract poultry farmers.

Mueller wants in. But to do that, he plans to take out a massive $2 million loan to finance the construction of four chicken barns.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Trump Administration's recent budget proposal could mean bad news for Oklahoma farmers.

The proposal was introduced last month and, if passed, will reduce the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget by 21 percent.

This could result in higher rates for crop insurance, which could be detrimental to Oklahoma farmers as this farming season has already seen high levels of precipitation following a five-year drought.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Low-income areas of rural Oklahoma are blotched with food deserts, where fresh, healthy food options are scarce. It’s a problem in cities, too, but entrepreneurs, educators and legislators say newly signed legislation could help fill grocery gaps with community gardens.

School just let out at Walt Whitman Elementary in north Tulsa and a group of third and fifth graders is eager to brag about the garden they helped plant on a hillside behind the school.

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