(Posted Mon. Aug 6th, 2012)

Aug. 6: KVIE Public Television, producers of America’s Heartland, announced new consumer features, themed episodes, and new hosts as it premieres an unprecedented eighth season of the public television series celebrating U.S. agriculture starting the week of Sept. 10. The National Corn Growers Association is a proud promotional partner of this important effort to educate audiences about today’s agriculture.


During Season 8’s 22 new episodes, veteran reporters Jason Shoultz, Sarah Gardner and Rob Stewart are joined by Sharon Vaknin, video host and editor at CNET and a popular online chef. Vaknin debuts in Episode 801 as the host of Farm to Fork, where she introduces viewers to real-life farmers or ranchers to learn about the products they grow or raise. Together, she and her guests then prepare some delicious dishes using those same ingredients. All of the recipes will be posted on the America’s Heartland website.


The expanded reporting team is also joined by Kristin Simoes, longtime anchor, reporter, and most recently correspondent for California Country, a TV series focusing on California agriculture. At least three special themed episodes are planned for Season 8, including Dawn to Dusk, where viewers take an intimate look at a full day in the lives of a farm or ranch family; Dairy Duel, where cheese makers from Wisconsin and California vie for supremacy in their craft; and Classy Cowgirls, where viewers go on a photo shoot to discover how ranching meets high fashion.


Other new and returning features planned for America’s Heartland’s eighth season include Agriculture 101, where consumers ask (and get answers to) all kinds of questions about agriculture; Off the Shelf, which looks at food choices we make at the supermarket; and Harvesting Knowledge, which explores the fascinating history of foods we enjoy every day.


Launched in 2005, the award-winning America’s Heartland travels throughout the U.S., introducing non-farm viewers to the men and women who provide the food, fuel, and fiber we use and consume daily. The half-hour weekly series is seen on more than 240 public television stations, including stations in 21 of the top 25 U.S. markets.


America’s Heartland also examines how technology is changing production and how sustainability and environmental issues are becoming increasingly important to producers and consumers.


The website gives consumers easy connections to topics, educational resources, search functions and video offerings. To give viewers immediate access to stories and special segments, America’s Heartland has expanded its social networking outreach with updated features and information on Facebook and Twitter. Video plays an increasingly important role on the America’s Heartland YouTube Channel, currently welcoming more than 90 thousand visitors each month.


In November 2011, Farm Credit announced its renewed Season 8 funding support for America’s Heartland. Farm Credit was joined shortly afterwards by the two other major funders from last season, the United Soybean Board and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. On June 21, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Association joined United Egg Producers as supporters of the Fund for Agriculture Education, created by KVIE to help organizations support America’s Heartland. America’s Heartland also receives in-kind production support from many prominent agriculture organizations, including NCGA, U.S. Grains Council, American Soybean Association, FFA, National Association of Wheat Growers, and the National Cotton Council of America.