‘Ag-gag’ laws on the rise

Crop insurance

State legislators throughout the country are passing laws aimed to protect farmers from individuals who use hidden cameras to record images without consent. Recently, Idaho became the first state to have both a modern-day farm protection law and an agriculture disparagement, or “veggie libel,” law. Continue Reading →

States restrict drone use because of privacy concerns

Suspended from the ceiling of the CIA's headquarters in Virginia are reminders of intelligence history: models of the U-2, A-12, and D-21 Drone. These models are exact replicas at one-sixth scale of the real planes. All had photographic capabilities.

In September 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration will open U.S. airspace to unmanned aircraft. As that deadline approaches, state legislators have begun to pass and consider legislation that places restrictions on domestic drone use. Some believe that unmanned aircraft hovering over private property pose privacy threats. Others believe domestic drone use by individuals is protected under the First Amendment. Continue Reading →

Reporter’s guide to investigating meat, poultry and eggs

A farmer checks an egg for cracks at a farm in Campbell Hill, Ill. The Food Safety and Inspection Service is in charge of monitoring domestically produced eggs, along with meat and poultry, too.

Multiple federal and state agencies have roles in the regulation of our food system. When a problem occurs, producers, consumers and even members of the media can have a hard time figuring out which agency to turn to for answers. While each specific case can have its nuances, here is a general guideline for the oversight process of domestic production and distribution of chicken and meat. Continue Reading →

A Second Chance: After life-changing injury, farmer-turned-researcher now teaches about agricultural dangers

Chip Petrea stands near a modified tractor after his accident.

In 1978, Robert "Chip" Petrea was injured while baling hay near his family's dairy farm located just outside Iuka, Ill. The injury resulted in double-above the knee amputations for Petrea. Less than a year removed from the amputations, Petrea began to farm again. Today, he serves as a principal researcher for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With a focus on agricultural safety and health, Petrea now helps prevent injuries such as his from happening to others. Continue Reading →

Even while adapting, most Wisconsin farmers are climate skeptics

University of Wisconsin-Madison crop economics professor Paul Mitchell presented results of a survey he coauthored finding that most Wisconsin farmers were climate skeptics. Photo Feb. 27, 2014, at UW-Madison's Sustainability Forum 2014.

Most Wisconsin farmers remain skeptical about climate change, although data show they have already begun adapting to shifts in weather patterns, scientists said at a University of Wisconsin-Madison conference this week.

Farmers, the scientists said, are key actors in adapting to climate change or mitigating its effects. They manage 61 percent of the nation’s land. They are vulnerable to droughts, cold, heat and hail — crop insurance paid out $17.4 billion dollars in indemnities nationwide after the 2012 drought. Continue Reading →