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The Farm Report

Learn about the people, processes, and policies that shape how food is produced today, from the latest agricultural innovations to the day-to-day challenges of running a viable business growing vegetables and grazing cattle. Host Lisa Elaine Held is an experienced journalist who covers food, agriculture, and the environment for Civil Eats, The Guardian, and many other publications. On The Farm Report, she engages in conversations with farmers, farmworkers and the people who work alongside them—like chefs, researchers, activists, and investors. Expect from-the-field insights paired with real-world context as guests explore how producing fresh, delicious food relates to environmental and community sustainability, equality and justice, politics and policy, and better health.

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Episode 356: The Biggest Little Farm

Debuting in theaters on May 10, The Biggest Little Farm is a film that follows two urban professionals, John and Mary Chester, as they leave Los Angeles on a mission to build a farm that exists in harmony with nature. Eight years later, the pair owns and operates Apricot Lane Farms, a thriving diversified, organic, biodynamic farm. In this episode, farmer and filmmaker John Chester joins host Lisa Held in the studio to talk about the challenges they faced as new farmers (from foxes and snails to depleted soil and wildfires), the process of making a movie while building a farm, and lessons they learned about building systems alongside the brutality—but also wisdom and intricacies—of nature. Photo courtesy of Apricot Lane Farm. The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.

38mins

15 May 2019

Rank #1

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Episode 139: Will Harris of White Oak Pastures

Meet Will Harris, the the owner/operator of White Oak Pastures, a multi-generational family farm that was established in 1866 in the small, southwest Georgia community of Bluffton. White Oak Pastures is the only farm in the United States that has both a beef and chicken abattoir on the property. Erin Fairbanks interviews Will on this week’s episode of The Farm Report. Mr. Harris explains what inspired him to transition away from the big industrial farming model and back to the humane and organic methods his great grandfather practiced. Learn more about what animal welfare means at White Oak Pastures and how they set the standard for excellence in modern livestock production. This program was sponsored by Whole Foods Market. “We’re the only farm in the country that has both a beef and poultry slaughterhouse on the farm – we’re very proud of that.” “When I was in my 40’s in the 1990’s I became disgusted with the excesses of the industrial practices and started transitioning back to the ways of my great grandfather.” “Good animal welfare is very easy to determine. If you enjoy watching the animal – you have good animal welfare. The animals need to be able to express their instinctive behavior.” –Will Harris of White Oak Pastures on The Farm Report

40mins

20 Sep 2012

Rank #2

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Episode 127: The Fiber Series: Virginia Scholomiti & Andy Rice

This week on The Farm Report, Erin Fairbanks continues her exploration into the world of agricultural fiber. First on the show, Virginia Scholomiti of Yellow Farm describes the process of breeding and managing flock to produce fleeces of superior quality for hand-spinners and crafters. From artificial insemination to sheep coats, learn about everything it takes to produce high end fiber from sheep. Later on, Andy Rice of Hogget Hill Farm joins the conversation to talk about his work with the Swiss Village Foundation, the process of retaining heritage breed genetics and concerns of parasite control and diversity. Learn how the process of shearing has been perfected in New Zealand and why what’s good for the sheep is good for the shearer. This program was sponsored by International Culinary Center. “We are always there when our lambs are born, because our sheep are very rare and we can’t afford to lose any of them.” –Virginia Scholomiti of Yellow Farm on The Farm Report “The idea behind preserving rare breeds is that some of these breeds, for instance the Santa Cruz breeds in California, have developed some of their own natural parasite control. If we can use some of these genetics in our modern breeds and not have to use drugs [to fight parasites], it would be a whole lot better.” “The better a shearer gets the more relaxed the animal gets. It has nothing to do with the sheep, it’s all dependent on the shearer and how you control them. Whether the sheep like it or not is very hard to say.” “A good blade shearer can shear 200 sheep in a day.” –Andy Rice of Hogget Hill Farm on The Farm Report

40mins

28 Jun 2012

Rank #3

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Episode 309: Immigration and Agriculture

This week's episode of The Farm Report is focused on immigration and agriculture. Guest host Challey Comer is joined by Maria Rojas from GrowNYC and Mary Jo Dudley from the Cornell Farmworker Program. While there are many aspects of immigration to discuss, today's conversation is focused on community aspects of the issue. We learn about farmworker communities, employment experiences, and regulations that impact this integral part of the agricultural industry. Mary Jo Dudley is the director of the Cornell Farmworker program and a faculty member of the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. Her research is focused on immigrant workers, farmworker empowerment, migration from Latin America to the U.S. and immigrant communities within the U.S. Through her work in the extension system, she provides education on health and safety for farm operators and workers, planning assistance related to state and federal laws that impact farmworkers and workshops to improve communications between farmworkers, their employers, and members of communities in wich they live. More information on the program is available at farmworkers.cornell.edu Maria del mar Rojas is the beginning farmer program manager at GrowNYC. In this role, she provides direct technical assistance and organizes trainings to beginning and immigrant farmers who are part of the Greenmarket network. This work is part of GrowNYC's Farm Assistance Retention and Management program, FARMroots. More details on FARMroots is available at www.grownyc.org/farmroots

38mins

1 Feb 2017

Rank #4

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Episode 68: Fred Magdoff

This week on The Farm Report, Erin Fairbanks is joined by Fred Magdoff, author of the book “Agriculture and Food in Crisis: 
Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal”. Fred is also an adjunct professor at Cornell and discusses the variety of problems facing our country when it comes to food security. Find out why there is such a price squeeze on crops these days and how Wall Mart manages to sell 20% of the food in this country! This episode was sponsored by S. Wallace Edwards & Sons. For more information visit www.surryfarms.com

33mins

17 Feb 2011

Rank #5

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Episode 122: The Federation of Southern Cooperatives

This week on The Farm Report, Erin Fairbanks is talking with Mircha King of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives about the Pigford case- a class action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination on the part of the USDA concerning the distribution of loans and credits. Tune in to hear Mircha and Erin discuss the roots of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in the Civil Rights Movement, the history and intricacies of the Pigford case, and the changes that black farmers see twenty years after the case. To learn more about the Pigford case, visit BlackFarmerCase.com. This episode has been brought to you by Fairway Market. “What these lawsuits had asserted that the United States Department of Agriculture had systematically discriminated against African American farmers on the basis of race, which violates the 5th Amendment.” “Before Reagan left office, one of the things that he did was terminate the office of civil rights for the U.S.D.A… So for years there were stacks of boxes and boxes with claims of discrimination that no one even touched.” “We have all of these discrimination claims- we have black farmers, Native American farmers, women farmers, Hispanic farmers- and he [Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture] made a personal commitment to settle these claims.” — Mircha King on The Farm Report

32mins

3 May 2012

Rank #6

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Episode 229: To Beef or Not to Beef: Meat Talk with Nicolette Hahn Niman

This week on The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks welcomes Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” to the show. Kicking off the show talking about Nicolette’s background and how she became involved with ranching cattle, she elaborates exactly why beef is in need of defending. Nicolette’s take is that for decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one. She asks if the matter really so clear cut? In “Defending Beef,” Nicolette argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, she discusses with Erin that properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment. While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Nicolette explains that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and beef can and must be part of the solution. Tune in for an interesting discussion! This program was brought to you by Whole Foods Market. “There are many wonderful water intensive foods but that suggestion you hear over and over again that beef is some water guzzler and some outlier, that’s just not true.” [20:00] “I think the reason why beef has been the favorite target of sensational journalism because it was the most consumed meat in the United States and considered the most desirable.” [23:00] —Nicolette Hahn Niman on The Farm Report

34mins

20 Nov 2014

Rank #7

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Episode 307: Ben Machin of Redstart

This week on The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks is joined by Ben Machin of Redstart Natural Resource Management in Vermont, which provides forest management, invasive species management, ecosystem restoration, and land use consulting services to landowners and property managers. Prior to joining Redstart Forestry in 2001, Ben was employed as a firefighter/smokejumper with the USDA Forest Service, parachuting and fighting fires from Alaska to Arizona. In addition to his work as a partner of Redstart, Ben is the land management consultant for the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, VT.

45mins

17 Jan 2017

Rank #8

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Episode 71: Janet Britt of Agricultural Stewardship Association

This week on The Farm Report, Erin Fairbanks is joined by Janet Britt, farmer and Easement Steward of the Agricultural Stewardship Association. Tune in to learn more about the ASA, Janet’s life on the farm and the origins of Community Supported Agriculture. Find out why young farmers are in such a good position today, and how the “organic revolution” has truly evolved over the years. This episode was sponsored by The Museum of Food & Drink. Learn about the “Get the Ball Rolling” fundraiser here.

33mins

10 Mar 2011

Rank #9

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Episode 329: Federal Farm Policy Update with Rep. Chellie Pingree

United States Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is a former organic farmer and currently serves on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. She's been a longtime advocate for policies that support farmers and contribute to building a healthier, more sustainable food system—in her home state of Maine and across the country. With the Farm Bill deadline of September 30 fast approaching, host Lisa Held caught up with Rep. Pingree to talk about the Farm Bill programs she's been working on—like the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP)—and other pressing policy issues facing farmers right now. The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.

23mins

20 Sep 2018

Rank #10

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Episode 315: The High Cost of Cheap Labor

This week on The Farm Report, co-hosts Challey Comer and Maria Rojas are joined by Sarah Gray Miller, the Editor-In-Chief of Modern Farmer, to discuss an article from the magazine's most recent issue titled "The High Cost of Cheap Labor." New immigration orders will greatly impact the food world, and this piece is an in-depth look at the facts and history of farm workers in the U.S., as well as a frank discussion with farmers that these policies affect.

38mins

5 Apr 2017

Rank #11

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Episode 316: Whole Foods Market Founder & CEO John Mackey

On the season finale of The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks is joined by John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, and author of the new book The Whole Foods Diet. Mackey's mission in writing it, along with Drs. Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman (the bestselling authors of Forks Over Knives), was to distill the huge body of science, research, and advice into one undeniable consensus: that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the optimum plan for health and longevity.

42mins

19 Apr 2017

Rank #12

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Episode 322: NYC Greenmarket Grain Project with June Russell

On this week's episode of The Farm Report, June Russell joins host Erin Fairbanks to share a bit of what's exciting in the world of grains. June Russell is the Manager of Farm Inspections and Strategic Development for Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC. Greenmarket is the largest network of farmers’ markets in the country with fifty five locations within the City’s five boroughs. It provides retail outlets for nearly two hundred and thirty local farmers, fishers, and bakers who sell what they grow, raise, catch, and bake themselves. The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast

44mins

4 Oct 2017

Rank #13

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Episode 340: Farmland for a New Generation

With funding from New York State, American Farmland Trust (AFT) recently launched its most ambitious program to help young farmers access land and conserve farmland statewide. The program is modeled after the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network and is aimed at connecting landowners—especially retiring farmers—to young farmers via online listings and resources, on-the-ground support and guidance, and financial assistance. Host Lisa Elaine Held talks to AFT's New York Policy Manager Samantha Levy about how the program will work, what she anticipates the challenges will be, and why she thinks it is a successful model for getting more young people on land to start farming. The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast

46mins

12 Dec 2018

Rank #14

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Episode 81: United Way of NYC & Food Bank For NYC

This week on The Farm Report, Erin talks policy with Carmine Rivetti of United Way of NYC & Carlos Rodriguez of Food Bank For NYC. Tune in to learn more about the constant steps being taken to feed New Yorkers in need and help families through these challenging economic times. Learn more about how programs like food stamps and WIC play into the equation and what’s in store for the future of food security in our city. This episode was sponsored by Hearst Ranch.

34mins

19 May 2011

Rank #15

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Episode 323: Ithaca Farmers Market & Fishkill Farms

In this first half of this episode of The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks speaks with Becca Rimmel, co-manager of the Ithaca Farmers Market. Becca's experience as a professional naturalist led her to begin questioning the origin of the food on her dinner plate, and how food choices affected the landscape around her. Through this curiosity, she began exploring her own bio regional food system, completing her Masters in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College in 2016, and beginning as the manager of the Ithaca Farmers Market shortly after. When she’s not managing the Ithaca Market, she’s working to build her own business, Bottomland Farm. After the break, we hear a recording from Erin's visit to Fishkill Farms in September. Owner/operator Josh Morgenthau walks us through the history of his family business. The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast

44mins

11 Oct 2017

Rank #16

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Episode 377: The Goat Milk (and Cheese) Moment

According to The Washington Post, the number of dairy goats in the US is now climbing quickly. But Suzanne Behrmann, owner of Shepherd’s Way Creamery, got into milking goats a long time ago, simply because she liked them. Now, her farm has a herd of 14, and she sells her artisanal goat cheese at farmers markets in West Virginia and Washington DC’s famed Dupont Market. In this episode, Behrmann is in DC to attend Freshfarm’s annual Feast, and she talks to host Lisa Held about what it takes to run a goat dairy, setting up an on-farm cheesemaking operation, and her experiences selling at farmers markets.The Farm Report is a Heritage Radio Network show, recorded live on Full Service Radio at the LINE Hotel in Adams Morgan, Washington DC.Join Heritage Radio Network on Monday, November 11th, for a raucous feast to toast a decade of food radio. Our tenth anniversary bacchanal is a rare gathering of your favorite chefs, mixologists, storytellers, thought leaders, and culinary masterminds. We’ll salute the inductees of the newly minted HRN Hall of Fame, who embody our mission to further equity, sustainability, and deliciousness. Explore the beautiful Palm House and Yellow Magnolia Café, taste and imbibe to your heart’s content, and bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences and tasty gifts for any budget at our silent auction. Tickets available now at heritageradionetwork.org/gala.The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.

33mins

30 Oct 2019

Rank #17

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Episode 364: Investing In Small Farms and Regenerative Agriculture

Meriwether Hardie is the chief of staff at Bio-Logical Capital, where her work focuses on developing new models for regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, and climate-positive land use. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Hardie about how the company invests in farms and projects that “un-scale” the food system, how small farms and diversified, regenerative agriculture operations can compete for investment when up against commodity agriculture and ag-tech operations, and her upcoming participation in “The Innovative Farmer” summit at Slow Food Nations, the food and agriculture festival happening in Denver, Colorado July 19–21. It's HRN's annual summer fund drive, this is when we turn to our listeners and ask that you make a donation to help ensure a bright future for food radio. Help us keep broadcasting the most thought provoking, entertaining, and educational conversations happening in the world of food and beverage. Become a member today! To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have brand new member gifts available. So snag your favorite new pizza - themed tee shirt or enamel pin today and show the world how much you love HRN, just go to heritageradionetwork.org/donate The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.

39mins

10 Jul 2019

Rank #18

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Episode 346: Say Hello to Hemp

Hemp played an important role in America’s history—it was grown by many of the founding fathers, and the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper—but its production has been restricted since 1937. That changed with the passage of the Hemp Farming Act, which was attached to the 2018 Farm Bill and legalized hemp farming, processing, and selling in the US. Now, hemp is set to become an important American agricultural crop once again. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Joy Beckerman, president of the Hemp Industries Association, about the growing market for hemp (especially for CBD) and how it will affect farmers. Then, she’s joined by Tara Caton, the director of the Rodale Institute’s Industrial Hemp Trial, to discuss growing hemp, and how as a crop it has the potential to suppress weeds, add diversity to crop rotations (and therefore build soil health), and boost farmers’ bottom lines. Photo courtesy of Rodale Institute The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.

46mins

13 Feb 2019

Rank #19

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Episode 376: Dear Sonny Perdue, Small Farms Matter

United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently made a lot of farmers angry. At a time when small dairy farms are going out of business at unprecedented rates (and small farms producing other crops are also struggling), Perdue made a comment that suggested the situation was par for the course. “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” he said. This week, host Lisa Held is joined by three guests—Brenda Cochran, dairy farmer and president of Farm Women United, Russell Diez-Canseco, president and CEO of Vital Farms, and Jordan Treakle, policy director at the National Family Farm Coalition—to discuss Perdue’s comments, what current challenges faced by America’s small farmers really look like, and what can be done to help small farms survive.Join Heritage Radio Network on Monday, November 11th, for a raucous feast to toast a decade of food radio. Our tenth anniversary bacchanal is a rare gathering of your favorite chefs, mixologists, storytellers, thought leaders, and culinary masterminds. We’ll salute the inductees of the newly minted HRN Hall of Fame, who embody our mission to further equity, sustainability, and deliciousness. Explore the beautiful Palm House and Yellow Magnolia Café, taste and imbibe to your heart’s content, and bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences and tasty gifts for any budget at our silent auction. Tickets available now at heritageradionetwork.org/gala.The Farm Report is powered by Simplecast.

44mins

23 Oct 2019

Rank #20