This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about the attacks in Paris and calls by leaders, mostly Republicans who called on the President to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country as well as opposition from a group including former Attorney General Drew Edmondson on the Right to Farm state question going before voters next November.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Recent rains across Oklahoma, and the forecast for more in the coming week are easing drought conditions in much of the state.

State climatologist Gary McManus said Friday that he's optimistic the moisture will prevent the return of severe drought that plagued the state during much of the past five years, in addition to reducing the danger of wildfires and providing much needed moisture for farmers.

Farmer Joe Kelly in Altus says he's harvesting cotton while planting wheat and is more optimistic about his crops than he's been since 2010.

Startups Connect Vermont's Farmers To Urban Markets

Sep 21, 2015

Farmers in Vermont have about 600,000 state residents – plus visitors – to sell their products to. That's not a big market.

One company trying to help expand the reach of Vermont farms outside the state's borders is Farmers to You, based in Berlin, Vt.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Generations of tilling and planting on the same land have left Oklahoma’s soil in poor shape. And if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, feeding the future won’t be easy. As Slapout, Okla., farmer Jordan Shearer puts it: “We’re creating a desert environment by plowing the damn ground.”


If you're enjoying a late-summer fruit pie this Labor Day, consider what went into growing and harvesting that fruit. Chances are, it took a lot of human hands to ensure its skin would be perfect and smooth when you bought it.

More than 1,500 tractors driven by angry farmers snarled Paris traffic this morning, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports. In an ongoing protest movement, farmers across the country have been up in arms about high taxes and low prices on their goods.

The Associated Press reports:

"They're facing increasingly slim margins they blame on cheap imports and high payroll charges, which they say make them unable to compete against producers in Germany and Eastern Europe. The farmers are seeking tax breaks from the French government and EU action."

More than 21,000 people are out of work this year from California's drought, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. The majority are in agriculture. Those farmworkers lucky enough to have a job are often working harder for less money.

Leaning forward and crouching from the waist, Anastacio picks strawberries from plants about as tall as his knees. We're not using his last name because Anastacio and his family are undocumented.

While prolonged drought has strained California agriculture, most of the state's farms, it seems, aren't just surviving it: They are prospering.

The environment, though, that's another story. We'll get to that.

Across the U.S., small farmers have been struggling for years with low commodity prices and rising production costs. Even for organic farmers, who can justify higher prices, making a profit is tough.

But throughout the Midwest, a new farm-to-table strategy is giving a boost to some farmers.

Nick Lapatas spent 18 years living in Chicago. Then he returned home to Greece and bought a small farm. Today he and his son sell tomatoes in an open-air market in Athens. Despite the depressed economy and cheaper imports from Bulgaria and Albania, he's doing OK.

"I don't know how, but we are making some money," he says. "Now, what is going to happen a month from now, I don't know."