Esther Honig

Harvest Public Media Reporter

As a reporter for Harvest Public Media, I travel throughout northern Colorado, and parts of Wyoming and Nebraska to cover agriculture and rural issues. 

I’m originally from Colorado and moved back after a nine year hiatus to work for KUNC. Previously, I spent two years reporting on the opioid epidemic in rural Ohio for the NPR affiliate in Columbus. 

I got my start in radio journalism while attending college in Oakland, California, where I earned a degree in Spanish, Latin American Studies. 

Esther Honig

On a summer evening, police Sgt. Anthony Gagliano patrols the long, open streets of Fort Morgan, Colorado. He’s lived here for the last 16 years, almost as long as he’s been on the force. There’s one thing he knows sets apart this rural city of about 11,000: the diversity.

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

In 1992 nearly half of all dairy farms had fewer than 100 cows. Today, about half of all dairies have at least 1,000 or more cows, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Larger herds require more workers and as David Douphrate discovered, there are many logistical barriers to training those workers.

“These are 365, 24/7 operations, so it’s very challenging to pull these workers off the job to deliver training,” he said.

Esther Honig / KUNC

A computer science major in college, 25-year-old Garrett Hause would fit in at a Silicon Valley startup. But he said he prefers to stay busy and work with his hands, so he decided to do something different.

Last year he took over his grandparents’ farm in Lafayette, Colorado and replaced the fields of alfalfa with five acres of hemp.

Esther Honig for Harvest Public Media

Each summer news of foodborne illnesses from crops like lettuce and spinach make national headlines. According to the Center for Disease Control, 10 percent of outbreaks come from vegetable crops, and E. coli and salmonella are the common culprits. These pathogens can be found in contaminated manure, water and on the hands of those harvesting the crop — especially if they don’t have access to proper bathrooms or a way to wash their hands.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

New research from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests rising global temperatures will have a greater impacts on crop yields than previously predicted. The reason: Bug populations are going to be bigger and hungrier.

Esther Honig

This week at a press conference in Washington D.C., the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed details of their federal aid package meant to assist farmers caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s global trade war.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Earlier this week a civil lawsuit was filed against JBS USA and two officials at their meatpacking plant in Greeley. The suit alleges that a former employee, 37-year-old Kacem Andalib, faced racial and religious discrimination from his coworkers and that the company failed to intervene or prevent it.

Esperanza Yanez can spot a sick cow just by looking at it.

"The head hangs down and they don't eat," says Yanez, who immigrated from Mexico two decades ago and has been caring for cattle ever since.

While learning to communicate with animals takes years of patience, Yanez says the true language barrier exists between the dairy workers and the veterinarians who rarely speak Spanish. Medical terminology can be confusing, and to avoid embarrassment, Yanez says she and other workers may feign comprehension.

Esther Honig

Each spring, ranchers across the Eastern Plains look at their land and ask a very important question: How much green can they expect this season?

In this case, "green" refers not to money, but to grass. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently launched a new tool to help cattlemen predict just how much they can look forward to.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

An old water cliché tells us that “water flows uphill toward money.” It’s an adage born out of people’s frustrations about who benefits when water moves around in the Western U.S., popularized by author Marc Reisner’s 1986 book, “Cadillac Desert.”

Like all persistent folksy sayings, it’s a mix of myth and truth.

But there’s at least one case where it has some validity: the phenomenon known as “buy and dry” along Colorado’s fast-growing, historically agricultural Front Range.

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