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Midwest Farmers Lose $570 Million During Winter 2014


Farmers in the upper Midwest lost about $570 million last winter. The U-S Department of Agriculture blames most of those losses on transportation. Harvest Public Media’s Kristofor Husted (HUE-sted) reports.


With record grain harvests in 2013 and a nearly exhausted railway network, farmers in the Upper Midwest had to dig deep to move their wheat, corn and soybean crops. Low grain prices, a harsh winter and stiff competition on the railway all exacerbated the problem.  Charlie Kuskie is an agriculture commodity broker in Nebraska. He says the burgeoning frack sand and oil industries were snapping up space on the rails making it more difficult for farmers to grab a spot.

     (“It wasn’t necessarily that we didn’t have the rail cars, it’s that we didn’t have the engines to pull them all. So when the engines are all pulling oil tankers, we don’t have them to pull grain trains.”)

Cold temperatures also forced railway operators to trim train lengths by as much as half.  Kristofor Husted, Harvest Public Media.



Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest. Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and the push and pull for resources has serious ramifications for our country’s economic prosperity. What’s more, we all eat, so we all have a stake in how our food is produced In the Midwest, in particular, today’s emerging agenda for agriculture is headlined by climate change, food safety, biofuel production, animal welfare, water quality, and sustainability. By examining these local, regional and national issues and their implications with in-depth and unbiased reporting, Harvest is filling a critical information void. Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio — regular reports are aired on our member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. We are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read our ethics policy.