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Byline: Tom Webb
Jan. 19--A century ago, when a farm family needed medical care but didn't have the money, a country doctor might instead accept a turkey, a bushel of apples or a sack of potatoes.
Now, Cargill is bringing back a distant echo of that rural bartering system. Today it's unveiling a program that lets farmers swap a pledge to deliver some of next season's crop to Cargill, in exchange for Cargill depositing money into farmers' health savings accounts.
Though farmers have not always viewed the agribusiness giant as an ally, Cargill officials say their "Harvest Health" program is aimed at making a dent in a critical rural need. "Many times over, our farm customers have told us that rising health care costs are one of the biggest challenges facing their business," said …