Climate change triggers rare crop diseases in Missouri

This story was originally published by the Missouri Information Corps. New crop diseases pervading Missouri have been linked to climate change, and they’re directly impacting crop production. Climate change has already made Missouri a little more hot and humid, but has also caused some diseases for crops like corn and soybeans to become more prevalent. If not treated properly, farmers could see a significant loss in crop yields. However, there are ways Missourians can both fight off these crop diseases and combat climate change. 

Kaitlyn Bissonnette, a plant pathologist for MU Extension, said that she has seen climate change impact crop production by changes in disease varieties and prevalence in Missouri.

Climate change worsens flooding devastation across the Midwest

This story was originally published by the Missouri Information Corps. Loaded up with camera gear and permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get up close, John Moon III made his way to Harry S. Truman Reservoir in Warsaw, Mo. A contracted stormtracker for KSN TV, Moon stood on the side of gushing flood waters during the flooding in 2019. The water being 30-40 feet above a normal pool, Moon struggled to shield his equipment from the spray of the water. 

“The spray itself [from the floodgates] made me feel like I was in a rainstorm,” Moon said. Every Missourian remembers the powerful rain and flooding in 2019 — events that caused widespread destruction and financial loss across the state.

Without an official statewide climate plan, Missourians must look elsewhere for direction

This story was originally published by the Missouri Information Corps. A staple of industry and identity in the state — agriculture has a stake in Missouri's economy and people's livelihoods. 

But Missouri’s agriculture industry will face the harsh realities of the climate emergency if action isn’t taken. The Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program states that in the Midwest, climate change will reduce agricultural productivity in the next 30 years due to increased precipitation and extreme temperatures. That is, unless there are major technological advances. 

Not only will more rain cause less flexibility for spring planting and worsen soil erosion, but higher overall temperatures will also reduce yields for staple crops in Missouri like corn and soybeans. 

Although some states have taken initiative to combat climate change, Missouri is one of 30 that has not created a statewide plan to prepare for potential climatic changes. And though Missouri has an $88 billion agricultural industry, the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) does not have a climate adaptation plan for farmers. 

In a written statement, MDA Communications Director Sami Jo Freeman recognized the department's lack of a climate change adaptation program.

‘They think workers are like dogs.’ How pork plant execs sacrificed safety for profits.  

USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting spent five months piecing together the pivotal moments in the Triumph Foods outbreak, interviewing more than a dozen current and former workers and examining thousands of pages of government records.

Missouri meat processing plant workers cite unsafe COVID conditions

Meat processing workers at Smithfield Foods in Milan, Missouri, were raising concerns about their working environment even before nearly 600 employees of a Smithfield plant in South Dakota contracted COVID-19.

Smithfield shut down its South Dakota plant indefinitely Sunday, and some workers in Milan fear it’s only a matter of time before the coronavirus overwhelms their community, too.

Jury orders Monsanto, BASF to pay peach farmer $250 million in punitive damages

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - A federal jury determined that German agribusiness giants Bayer and BASF will have to pay $250 million in punitive damages to Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, for damage caused by their dicamba-related products. The verdict comes at the end of a three-week trial of a case where Bader Farms alleges it is going out of business because of damage incurred by the companies' dicamba herbicides moving off of neighboring fields and harming their 1,000 acres of peach orchards. 

On Friday, the jury ruled that both Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, and BASF acted negligently and Bader Farms should receive $15 million in actual damages for future losses incurred because of the loss of their orchard. 

Read also Reporter’s notebook: Five key takeaways from trial of peach farmer’s lawsuit vs. Bayer, BASF

Bader Farms will receive a total of $265 million. BASF and Bayer will have to sort out what portion of the damages each company pays. 

Bader Farms is among thousands of farms, comprising millions of acres of crops, that have alleged dicamba damage since 2015.