Farmers

Flickr / Jonathan Reyes

Leaders in Congress say they aim to pass a finalized Farm Bill before the Fourth of July recess. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, that bill will include the legalization of industrial hemp. The industrial hemp business is increasingly seen as an economic savior and substitute for vulnerable industries like mining.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near Columbus, Neb., for decades, but now he is planning to take a huge gamble.

The big-box retailer Costco is building a new chicken-processing plant in Fremont, Neb., about an hour away from Mueller's farm. The company plans to slaughter 2 million birds per week. To raise all those chickens, Costco is recruiting about 120 farmers to sign on as contract poultry farmers.

Mueller wants in. But to do that, he plans to take out a massive $2 million loan to finance the construction of four chicken barns.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Trump Administration's recent budget proposal could mean bad news for Oklahoma farmers.

The proposal was introduced last month and, if passed, will reduce the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget by 21 percent.

This could result in higher rates for crop insurance, which could be detrimental to Oklahoma farmers as this farming season has already seen high levels of precipitation following a five-year drought.

Colin Curwen-McAdams opens the door to his greenhouse in Mt. Vernon, Wash., and a rush of warm air pours out.

"Basically, it's summer all year long here," he jokes.

Curwen-McAdams, a PhD student at Washington State University, and WSU professor Steven Jones have developed a new species: a cross between wheat and its wild cousin, wheat grass. They call it Salish Blue. Their goal was to make something that's like wheat but grows back year after year.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma could become a right-to-farm state if voters approve State Question 777this November. But opponents are gearing up for a legal fight to keep the issue off the ballot.

CHICKEN WASTE WORRIES

As an African-American, John Boyd Jr. might not be what Americans imagine when they think of a typical farmer. But Boyd has been farming his entire life, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him. He grows wheat, corn and soybeans and has cattle at his southwestern Virginia farm.

Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Nowhere is this truer than San Diego County, where water prices are some of the highest in the state.

Grapefruit trees shade the entrance to Triple B Ranches winery in northern San Diego County. The tasting room is a converted kitchen festooned with country knick knacks.

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