Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media
America's hugely productive food system is one of its success stories. The nation will export a projected $139.5 billion in agricultural products this fiscal year alone. It's an industry that supports "more than 1 million jobs," according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
But all that productivity has taken a toll on the environment, especially rivers and lakes: Agriculture is the nation's leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are declining at an average rate of 3.7 percent each year, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released this week. Researchers say the study is the first to calculate how quickly amphibians are disappearing in the United States.
"If the rate observed is representative and remains unchanged, these species would disappear from half of the habitats they currently occupy in about 20 years," according to the USGS.
Flooding continues to plague the upper Midwest, as waters crested at record highs in places and weary river-town residents watched the flood markers for signs of relief.
NPR's David Schaper, reporting from Chicago, tells our Newscast Unit that the Mississippi River continues to rise, overtopping small levees north of St. Louis. But he says some of the bigger problems are in Illinois, near the town of Peoria, where "many roads, homes and businesses are flooded, and dozens of Peoria-area residents have been evacuated."