National / International News
This week, news emerged that Hillary Clinton used a personal email address during her time as secretary of state. The committee has also directed Internet firms to protect documents.
Racism in soccer has been making headlines again, and FIFA President Sepp Blatter is now talking about relegating teams.
WHO says there's strong evidence that excessive sugar is bad for us. So it's recommending that we cut back significantly.
More than 16,000 children have lost a parent to Ebola. Almost all of these children have found a home with a relative, but they still lack basic needs, such as food and clothes for school.
The Lilienthal farm is tucked into a corner of eastern Iowa, about a half hour’s drive from the Mississippi River and Illinois border. It’s 400 acres of flat, fertile farmland. The farm has been in the family for about 150 years.
I pull up to a trim, white farmhouse. The Lilienthals are gracious, and hardy. So they agree to give me a quick tour of the farm, even though it’s seven degrees outside.
Dale Lilienthal is the family patriarch. He points to a shed.
"Dad built this machine shed," he says. "So he says, 'I’m going to build this so the doors are high enough and wide enough.' Now they’re not high enough or wide enough.”
Dale Lilienthal is the family patriarch.Nancy Marshall-Genzer
That’s because the equipment Dale’s son uses today dwarfs his father’s. Bob Lilienthal is in the process of taking over the family farm. He rents the farmland and hundreds more acres around it. He had to build a shed the size of a warehouse for his machines.
Bob Lilienthal built an immense new hog barn, too. Bob raises more than a thousand pigs at a time, while his father used to have a couple hundred.
But with everything bigger and better, Bob Lilienthal struggles to match his father’s standard of living, even though he has side businesses.
I’ve come here to find out why. But first we have to get warm after our tour. We hustle into the cozy farmhouse kitchen. On the table – cookies and hot chocolate. This was going to be a good interview.
I get things going, with this question for the young farmers at the table: “Do you ever think to yourself – my goodness – you could just farm in the old days and now you have to have all these separate things?”
Bob Lilienthal’s business partner, Chad Rockow, pipes up.
Chad Rockow is Bob Lilienthal's business partner.Nancy Marshall-Genzer
“The bar has been raised,” he says.
Rockow says it costs more to farm now, even after you factor in inflation.
Everything is more expensive. Fertilizer, equipment. And the prices the Lilienthals get for their corn, soy beans and livestock haven’t kept up.
Rockow says their profit margins are thinner than Dale Lilienthal’s were. So they have to farm more land, raise more pigs, and do lots of other stuff.
“It’s more like what don’t we do," he says, laughing. "There might be eight or 10 different businesses.”
They even have a foam insulation business, totally unrelated to the farm. They do some contract farming, plowing other people’s fields. They raise pigs for the giant Cargill corporation (they’re paid to raise Cargill pigs in their barn).
But Bob Lilienthal says big corporations are one reason it’s hard to be a small farmer now.
“There’s all these big companies – Cargill, Tyson’s," he says. "They all own sows, they all own pigs. And they own the packing plant. So they’re very hard to compete against.”
Bob Lilienthal says it's hard to compete with big corporations.Nancy Marshall-Genzer
There were no Cargills or Tyson’s when Bob’s father, Dale Lilienthal, was farming.
And here’s another thing. The price of farmland has skyrocketed. Dale Lilienthal remembers when he bought a chunk of land back in 1962. “When we first got married I bought ground for $400 an acre," he says. "Now that same ground is worth, what? $10-12,000."
The farm across from the Lilienthals sold for $12,000 an acre a few years ago.
All this stuff – the soaring land prices, rising costs, competition – it’s happening across the country.
“Part-time farming is pervasive and it appears to me to be permanent, and I think there’ll even be more reliance on off-farm income,” says Paul Lasley, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University, who studies farm communities.
Dale Lilienthal says today's farmers have to be good business people.Nancy Marshall-Genzer
Lasley says 50 to 60 percent of farmers in the U.S. have some kind of second job – off the farm. Maybe they drive a school bus, or sell insulation like Bob Lilienthal.
Back at his kitchen table, Dale Lilienthal can only shake his head and marvel at the innovation of today’s farmers.
“You gotta be a lot sharper to be a farmer now than when I started," he says. "When I started, if you were strong and did things on time you were successful.” Now, he says, you have to be a good business person, too.
So why do they do it? Well, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. They feel the pull of the land, like previous generations did. They like to watch things grow, be their own boss. Even if that means working harder to stay in place.
Oil companies hope to build the nation's largest oil-by-rail terminal on the Columbia River in Washington. Proponents say it will bring economic growth, but others fear it could mean fiery accidents.
Over the next two years, McDonald's will transition its U.S. restaurants to a new antibiotics policy. Several of the chain's competitors have also committed to curb antibiotics in their supply chain.