The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Posts Tagged ‘agriculture

morning cram [chinese-italian edition]

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“For more than a thousand years, the Italian town of Prato in the heart of Tuscany has been a textile center synonymous with top-quality craftsmanship. Now, it has become home to the largest concentration of Chinese residents in Europe.”

NPR reports on China’s expanding influence in the world.

KENTUCKY ~ Kentucky gets recycling grants, biggest grants are McCracken County and Pennyrile Regional. Paducah commissioner discuss revised (stricter) fireworks ordinance. UK prez signs a contract, will get 500K salary. Conscientious objector charged with child pornography, objector claims discrimination.  General Campbell may get third star.

ILLINOIS ~ Governor signs “landmark” education bill. Illinois state police review charges of racial bias.

TENNESSEE ~ Clarksville city budget set for vote, some concerned about appropriation of funds.  Obion among counties seeking agriculture disaster assistance.

Deere Farmer

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Click through for pics from Griffith Farms in Graves County. Farm co-owner Jerry Griffith was featured on the Front Page.

Written by Angela Hatton

January 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

morning cram [debris edition]

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Before Haiti is able to rebuild it must remove tons of rubble left behind by last year’s devastating earthquake. 

NPR hears how some Haitians aren’t waiting for the government to clear the debris: They’re freeing their communities using hand-cranked machines.

KENTUCKY~ Paducah will hold a public hearing about building a proposed electrical substation in front of Coleman Place and the Police Department shows off its new bookkeeping software. Bardwell city officials put off voting on a proposed payroll tax. A Hopkins County ex-Magistrate declines being the new Community Development Director there. Murray could get a skate park @ Chestnut this summer. Four charged in connection to a Murray home invasion will be back in court by the end of the month. Who is the Commonwealth’s first woman to file to run for a state office? KET joins the fight to prevent cuts to federal funding for public broadcasting. Gov. Steve Beshear is comfortable with people carrying guns into the state Capitol. Oak Grove’s Police Chief is reinstated.

TENNESSEE~ Farmers are using social media to promote agritourism to their farms. Paris’ Dana Corp. expects to add 25 new jobs to its workforce.

ILLINOIS~ Whether or not the state abolishes the death penalty is now up to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Down at the Farm . . . Conference

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Here’s some pictures from Murray State University’s Department of Agriculture Regional Conference. The event drew in over a hundred participants from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Illinois.

Written by Angela Hatton

November 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm

The Changing Face of the Farm Workforce

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It’s good to be back at work. Yesterday afternoon’s panel discussion brought out some interesting figures about the immigrant workforce.

Let’s start with some statistics shared by Domingo Martinez, director of the Cambio Center (Research and Outreach on Latinos and Changing Communities). It’s important to note that the United States government counts ethnic groups, not immigrants, which means the statistics on exactly how many Latino immigrants are in the United States legally and illegally is difficult to pinpoint, though some have tried. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Angela Hatton

October 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Making Kentucky Proud

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. . . at least that’s what I hope I’m doing here. I believe that I’m the only representative from the Bluegrass State attending the conference.

The biofuels discussion went by in a rush. To give an explanation in one sentence, it’s a complicated issue. Since corn ethanol has been studied more than anything else, that was the main topic discussed. One concern economists and scientists are looking at is that the federal tax incentives for biofuel production are set to expire December 31 this year. The question is, if the incentives aren’t renewed, will standards go down? I’ll have more from the biofuel discussion later.

The session on Immigrant Labor is beginning soon.  Watch it here.

Written by Angela Hatton

October 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Connecting at UMC

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Folks are milling around here at the Food, Fuel, and Society Conference, drinking coffee, and chowing down on some breakfast bagels and fruit.

So far, I’ve met Donna Vestal, editor of Harvest Public Media. Harvest is a consortium of six member stations focusing on issues related to agriculture. They’re brand new. Only a few months old, according to Vestal. They’re working with a small staff on a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Their two-year goal is to be self-sufficient. Their goal at this conference is to make connections and build their mission for reporting in the future. Check out their Facebook page.

I’ve also met Dave Swenson, an economist from the University of Iowa. He’ll be at this morning’s breakout session, “Biofuels or Bust.” (Still time to get your questions in, *nudge* *nudge*.) Swenson said he plans to talk about some of the problems in developing biofuels. Basically, he said, even though develop seems to be moving forward in states, including Kentucky, innovation is stagnant.

Looking forward to meeting new people and bringing back some good ideas to the WKMS newsroom.

You can watch this morning’s sessions (including the keynote with Ira Flatow) and check out the live blog here.

Written by Angela Hatton

October 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

Let’s Get Ready to Conference

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Greetings from Columbia! The city is a busy college town with hip shops and trendy restaurants, but outside the city the rolling farmland isn’t that much different from western Kentucky. And the local NPR station, KBIA’s call letters? 91.3. I’m right at home.

Tomorrow is the Food, Fuel, and Society Conference. There’s still time to send me some questions about biofuel and immigrant farm labor. For example, one thing I’ve heard so far is that E-85 fuel seems to burn faster than traditional gasoline. So, the question is are ethanol-makers are aware of that, and are other biofuels (like switchgrass) better as gasoline replacements?

P. S. If you’re ever in Columbia, check out India House for some good Indian food in generous portions.

WKMS likes the food of India.

Written by Angela Hatton

October 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

WKMS Goes to Missouri

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Today I’ll be celebrating Columbus Day by driving to Columbia, Missouri, for the Food, Fuel, and Society Conference at University of Missouri, Columbia’s Reynolds Institute for Journalism. Now that’s a mouthful.

Ira Flatow, the host of NPR’s  Science Friday is the featured guest speaker at tomorrow’s conference. The focus will be better practices in agriculture reporting.  It’s not just plowing and planting, people. I’ll be talking to other reporters, farmers, professors, and analysts. And you can participate too. Here’s how:

I’ll be attending two panel discussions. One on bio-fuels, and the other on immigrant farm labor. If you’ve got a question you’d like me to ask, leave it as a comment at the bottom of this post.

To find out more about what’s new in the world of agriculture, visit Harvest Public Media’s Facebook page.  You can follow them on Twitter too.

Hey, WKMS is on Facebook and Twitter too!

More later from the Show-Me State!

Written by Angela Hatton

October 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

UFW Invites Anti-immigration Advocates to Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

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by Todd Hatton

In August of 2008, WKMS aired a story by Carrie Pond about the H-2A program, where U.S. farmers are allowed to bring in foreign workers for jobs not filled by American workers.  Considering that the Obama Administration is looking once again at immigration reform, and once again immigration opponents are rallying to the cry of “they’re taking our jobs,” the story’s worth another listen.  In the piece, Murray tobacco farmer Mark Pascal points out that the Mexican workers coming here aren’t taking anyone’s job.  He says, “They’re doing the jobs no American wants to do.  They’re good people, wanting to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

Two years later, “they’re taking our jobs” is still a common sentiment.  But when one considers the nation’s 9.3% unemployment rate, Kentucky’s 10.2% rate, and Tennessee’s 10.3% rate, that sentiment seems, well, a little disingenuous if not downright hypocritical.

Now, the farm workers are calling us out on it.

In a Yahoo! news story from the Associated Press, the United Farm Workers of America say they’re challenging the unemployed and anti-immigrant activists to take their jobs.  They’ve even set up a website,, to facilitate the process.  They’ve also attracted some celebrity help.

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert will spotlight the campaign on “The Colbert Report” July 8.

The Yahoo! story says the campaign is tongue in cheek, but the underlying issue is serious.  It cites a U.S. Labor Department report that says three out of four farm workers were born abroad, with more than half of them in this country illegally.  The workers, legal or not, face long days and little pay.  They’re excluded from federal overtime laws and may not even get minimum wage.  On top of that, the website says sixteen states don’t require farm laborers to be covered by worker’s compensation laws.  And yes, Kentucky and Tennessee are two of those states.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Todd Hatton

July 7, 2010 at 10:47 am