Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it’s the driest part of the state this year.

“We really haven’t really had any measurable rain since the middle of October,” says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville, north of St. Louis. “I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust.”

Fewer Regulations Heighten Cities’ Concerns Over Water Quality, Cost To Clean It Up

Nov 6, 2017

There’s a city council election in Des Moines soon, and voters have questions about the rivers where the city draws its water supply.

“Is (the water) safe to drink? Is it safe to consume?” candidate Michael Kiernan says he’s been asked.

Plant breeder Jessica Barb is on a mission to improve how sunflowers self-pollinate, a trait that'll be increasingly important to farmers are wild bee populations diminish. Her research tool of choice: a paper towel. 

In the summer of 2002, water pumps in Colorado’s San Luis Valley stopped working.

The center pivot sprinklers that coax shoots from the dry soil and turn the valley into one of the state’s most productive agricultural regions strained so hard to pull water from an underground aquifer that they created sunken pits around them.

“This one right over here,” says potato farmer Doug Messick as he walks toward a sprinkler, near the town of Center. He's the farm manager for the valley's Spud Grower Farms. “I came up to it one day and I could’ve driven my pickup in that hole.”

Mad Cow Disease Detected In Alabama

Jul 18, 2017

A case of mad cow disease has been found in a cow in Alabama.

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists confirmed Tuesday that an 11-year-old cow found in an Alabama livestock market suffered from the neurologic cattle disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The animal “at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States,” according to the USDA.

Dana Cronin / 91.5 KRCC

Family farms line the southern reaches of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The agricultural community there depends on the river's yearly flows for crop irrigation. But with predictions of less water in the future, the region could face tradeoffs over the coming decades.

The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

An app that encourages users to support farmers and growers in southern Colorado is moving into its third year. 

Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith [LC-DIG-highsm-11937]

Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River is a new book from David Owen, a staff writer with the New Yorker magazine and author of more than a dozen books.  His latest takes him on a journey across the west following the Colorado River: the dams, reservoirs and pipelines that help quench the thirst of seven states and parts of Mexico. 

Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USF343-001617-ZE] / Library of Congress

A new study looked into what would happen if the modern agricultural industry was to experience a 1930s Dust Bowl style event.

Kristen Wyatt / Associated Press

Three varieties of industrial hemp seed are the first to attain certification from the state for widespread use.  They meet the requirements to produce mature plants with less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Deric Stowell / Courtesy Daneya Esgar

The Pueblo Chile Growers' Association and Pueblo County are working together to get a new Colorado license plate approved that would feature the Pueblo chile.

Denise Dethlefsen / Used with permission

A new partnership aims to preserve four farms in Rocky Ford, totaling more than 660 acres.

New conservation easements between farmers Bart and David Mendenhall and the Palmer Land Trust will help ensure the water from their farms can never be sold off.

Holly Pretsky / KRCC

The Colorado State Fair officially opened August 25th in Pueblo. Saturday, hundreds of high school students crowded in to perform at the annual marching band competition. KRCC's Holly Pretsky attended the event and other traditional fair activities, and brought back this audio postcard.  

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The 144th Colorado State Fair officially opens Friday in Pueblo, and organizers expect more than 500,000 people to attend.

Neighborly Cooperation Keeps Alive Acequia System of Irrigation

May 10, 2016
Katherine-Claire Nynas

Water rights can be a touchy topic for Colorado families whose livelihoods are tied to the resource's availability. But in the tight knit community of San Luis in southern Colorado, a group of farmers and ranchers uses old methods of cooperation to help ensure healthy livestock and a good harvest in the arid region.

Tuesday Newscast, 3/1/16, 5:32 PM

Mar 1, 2016

Newscast for Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 5:32 PM:

Wednesday Newscast, 2/10/16, 7:04 AM

Feb 10, 2016

Newscast for Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 7:04 AM:

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Colorado State Fair has a new general manager.  Sarah Cummings recently picked up the reins to drive the annual celebration of state agriculture.  She comes from California, where she worked with and ran various fairs; she also grew up participating in them. KRCC's Andrea Chalfin sat down with Cummings on her first day on the fairgrounds to talk with her about the state of the State Fair.

Tuesday Newscast, 12/15/15, 6:04 PM

Dec 15, 2015

Newscast for Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 6:04 PM:

Winter Water for Migrating Ducks

Oct 8, 2015
Shelley Schlender / RMCR

Colorado's South Platte River basin is a powerhouse for crops and cattle.  Massive reservoirs quench the region's thirst, with farm fields generally first in line.  Wildlife?  It's often last. But a small win-win is giving waterfowl a little more room at the watering hole.  It's a program that creates warm winter ponds for migrating ducks — then gives the water back, in time for summer crops. 

Whole Foods Market has announced that by April of next year it will stop sourcing foods that are produced using prison labor.

The move comes on the heels of a demonstration in Houston where the company was chastised for employing inmates through prison-work programs.

Michael Allen, founder of End Mass Incarceration Houston, organized the protest. He says Whole Foods was engaging in exploitation since inmates are typically paid very low wages.

Whole Foods says it will stop selling products made by a Colorado prison labor program after a protest against the practice at one of its stores in Texas.  The company says the products should be out of its stores by April 2016, if not sooner. Whole Foods says it has sold tilapia and goat cheese produced through the Colorado Correctional Industries program in Canon City since at least 2011.

Prison reform advocates have likened the program to indentured servitude, citing low wages. 

Friday Newscast, 9/25/15, 5:32 PM

Sep 25, 2015

Newscast for Friday, September 25, 2015, 5:32 PM:

Thursday Newscast, 9/17/15, 6:04 PM

Sep 17, 2015

Newscast for Thursday, September 17, 2015, 6:04 PM:

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The Colorado State Fair is in full swing in Pueblo. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to check out the annual celebration of the state's agriculture and more. They'll have plenty to do from spinning on rides at the carnival to eating festival foods to watching young Coloradans show off their livestock and other 4H projects.  KRCC's Shanna Lewis captured some of the sights and sounds from the fair, starting in the swine barn.

Andrea Chalfin

The Colorado State Fair is full swing in Pueblo this week, and early numbers show a possible increase in turnout over last year.

The Fair saw an average of 45,000 people a day over opening weekend, a 2% increase in attendance says Chris Wiseman, Colorado State Fair General Manager.  Wiseman says he's optimistic about the coming weekend, but adds anything could happen.

Monday Newscast, 8/24/15, 5:32 PM

Aug 24, 2015

Newscast for Monday, August 24, 2015, 5:32 PM:

Friday Newscast, 8/21/15, 5:32 PM

Aug 21, 2015

Newscast for Friday, August 21, 2015, 5:32 PM:

  • Construction is underway in Pueblo County large solar array that will generate enough electricity to power around 30,000 homes.
  • Colorado’s apple orchards are bearing less fruit this year.

Friday Newscast, 8/14/15, 5:32 PM

Aug 14, 2015

Newscast for Friday, 8/14/15, 5:32 PM:

  • Officials in Colorado have reopened the Animas River to boating.
  • A lieutenant colonel at Fort Carson faces a court-martial on charges of viewing child pornography on a government computer while in Afghanistan.
  • A recent report from Colorado State University says if Great Plains farmers adopt more conservation practices, their carbon emissions could be drastically reduced.