Earth Day 2014 on Storify

Wind Turbines65

For Earth Day 2014, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting gathered a list of its past reports on environmental issues. Also included is work from Harvest Public Media, The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism. Continue Reading →

Slideshow: Farmers stay busy as planting approaches

Dennis Riggs works on his antique Jeep Forward Control truck at his home.

A farmer’s job does not come to a halt once harvest ends. Work continues with tasks such as planning the next growing season, attending meetings, keeping the soil tilled until the ground freezes and maintaining farm equipment. View this photo slideshow to see how some Midwestern farmers spend their off-season. Continue Reading →

‘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: 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 →