AGRICULTURE

Maple syrup producers take pride in their pure, natural product. So when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed new labels to say maple syrup contains “added sugar,” producers fought back.

Live racing was popular at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds in the last century.
Courtesy Fair Grounds Community Redevelopment Project / State House News Service

Horse racing could make a return to the fairgrounds in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, as soon as next year. The operators of the Suffolk Downs race track in East Boston have a deal to lease the Berkshire County facility.

Author Tinky Weisblat prepares rhubarb brownies from the cookbook, "Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb."
Carrie Healy / NEPR

The humble rhubarb: when its green stalks transition to pink, it's springtime in New England. Author Tinky Weisblat has a new cookbook out, full of ways to prepare rhubarb that don't involve pie.

Pea seedlings.
Rev Stan / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/revstan

The cold, wet weather this month has set the vegetable growing season behind in some parts of New England. And some farmers are already dealing with crop loss.

You can think of an anaerobic digester as a big metal stomach. Biodegradables go in, get composted, and turned into energy. And now, the hope is that the waste turns into a profit.

While Vermont dairy farmers are experiencing some of the hardest times in recent memory, their counterparts in Quebec are thriving. The reason is a complex system that regulates the supply of milk  and sets the price farmers receive.

Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET

China's leaders followed President Trump in taking another step toward a new trade war, announcing a plan to put steep tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. imports. China's proposed 25 percent tariffs would target a wide range of American products, from soybeans and whiskey to airplanes and cars.

"China currently buys about $14 billion worth of American soybeans each year — almost a third of the entire U.S. crop," NPR's Dan Charles reports for our Newscast unit. "Prices for U.S. soybeans tumbled by 3 to 5 percent" on the news, Dan adds.

While Vermont is by far the highest producing maple syrup state in the United States, 70 percent of the world's maple syrup is made in Québec.

And that's where the benchmark global price for bulk maple syrup — the price paid by processors to Vermont's maple syrup producers — is set each year by a powerful, but legal, cartel.

A row of buildings on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2013.
John Phelan / Creative Commons

The city of Hartford, Connecticut, is planning changes around its new downtown baseball stadium. The once-busy, historic North End neighborhood now has a lot of vacant lots and boarded-up buildings. We check in with Hartford residents about what should come next, what the area needs and what might be lost.

As the nation's dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of depressed milk prices, concerns are rising that many are becoming depressed themselves. The outlook for the next year is so bleak, it's heightening worries — especially in the Northeast — about farmer suicides.

Agri-Mark Inc., a dairy cooperative with about 1,000 members, saw three farmers take their own lives in the past three years. The most recent was last month. It's a very small sample, but very sharp and disturbing increase.

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