Large number of Iowa public schools in range of potential pesticide spray drift

Nine of every 10 public school districts in Iowa have buildings within 2,000 feet of a farm field, making students and teachers susceptible to being exposed to pesticides that drift from the fields when pesticides are sprayed. Yet many school officials interviewed for an IowaWatch/Tiger Hi-Line investigation showed little to no awareness on if or how pesticide drift could affect the staff and students in school buildings.

Organic crops lucrative, challenging for U.S. farmers

Despite a steady increase in demand for organic products among consumers, U.S. crop growers have been reluctant to make the switch from conventional crops, even if it could mean higher profits for farmers struggling with low commodity prices.

We’re partnering with agricultural communities to measure pesticide drift

If you live in central Illinois, you may have spotted a small, dome-like device that resembles a flying saucer along a fence or in a neighbor’s backyard. Those devices are air samplers, specifically designed to measure pesticide drift. We’ve placed four samplers in agricultural communities to learn more about what chemicals, if any, might be drifting from corn and soybean fields onto nearby backyards, school grounds and parks as spraying gets underway this spring. We have also placed a sampler near our office in Champaign to serve as a control. Below, you will find more information about how this project will contribute to our reporting, how the community helped determine the locations of the samplers and exactly how the samplers work.

Report: U.S. Department of Agriculture can do more to keep pathogens out of meat and poultry supply

A new report released today from a congressional watchdog agency says the U.S. Department of Agriculture can do more to keep foodborne illness-causing pathogens out of meat and poultry products. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, a branch of the agriculture department, inspects approximately 6,500 meat and poultry processing plants nationwide. The inspectors test meat to ensure that salmonella and campylobacter bacteria, two common pathogens that cause roughly 2 million Americans to fall ill and each year, aren’t present in the food supply at unsafe levels. The new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the process the USDA uses to determine safety standards for pathogens in meat is outdated. The standards for ground beef, for example, have not been updated in more than 20 years, the report said.

Off-target: A community conversation about dicamba

Join us for a panel discussion featuring weed scientists, industry leaders and community members as we delve into the issues that arose with dicamba. There will be time after the moderated panel for an audience Q & A session.

The event is free but RSVP required. Light refreshments will be served.

We've also put together a fact sheet so you can ask questions, too.

Join our community conversation about dicamba

For farming communities in the Midwest, the herbicide dicamba did more than damage crops – it created tensions between friends and neighbors and raised questions about how state officials and makers of dicamba - Monsanto and BASF - responded to the problem. Join us for a panel discussion featuring weed scientists, industry leaders and community members as we delve deeper into the issues that arose with dicamba. There will be time after the moderated panel for an audience Q & A session.

Pesticide buffer zones crop up in other states but none in Midwest

Hundreds of rural schools in Midwest states nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds.

Health experts say those pesticides might pose risks to children, and nine states in other regions of the country have been concerned enough to pass laws requiring buffer zones. But states in the Midwest do not require any kind of buffer zone between schools and crop fields and seldom require any notification that pesticides are about to be sprayed, a review of laws by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting has found.