The InsideClimate News investigative series Harvesting Peril: Extreme Weather and Climate Change on the American Farm has won first place for best series and best feature in the North American Agricultural Journalists 2019 writing contest.
Harvesting Peril describes how the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation's largest farm lobby, has worked to undermine climate science and derail climate policy, putting at risk the very farmers it represents.
The stories were reported and written by Georgina Gustin, John H. Cushman, Jr., and Neela Banerjee after months of investigation, which included reviewing hundreds of documents and conducting more than 200 interviews.
The judges commended the reporting and editing team, writing: "This is an incredible piece of reporting that should be mandatory reading for every farmer—no, make that every American. Well researched, well written, this tells a chilling story of a lobbying organization that has gone off the rails."
The four-part series revealed how the Farm Bureau has worked with fossil fuel allies over decades to sow uncertainty about the science of global warming and the need for solutions. It examined the Farm Bureau's support of the federal crop insurance program, which provides security to farmers in a way that discourages the very farming methods that would help bring climate change under control. It described how the agriculture industry has become an extractive industry, similar to the fossil fuel industry, locking in a system that degrades the soil, increases greenhouse gas emissions and is difficult to alter. The series included graphics by Paul Horn and an explanatory video by Anna Belle Peevey.
InsideClimate News is a non-profit, non-partisan news organization that provides essential reporting and analysis on climate, energy and the environment for the public and decision-makers. ICN has won dozens of journalism awards since its founding in 2007. In 2013 ICN won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, and in 2016 it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Harvesting Peril launched ICN's deep reporting on the nexus between agriculture and climate change.