Stories by Alan Guebert

Having a beef with Ohio’s checkoff, where cattle will vote … sort of

Thursday, September 20, 2012

According to Chicago legend, a tombstone somewhere in the city reads: “John Smith, Born 1934, Died 1981, Voted 1984, 1988, 1992″. What makes the joke funny, of course, is its resemblance to the truth. Chicago’s well-deserved reputation for election shenanigans is just that, well deserved. Despite that legacy, cattle cannot vote in either Chicago or […]

Some days are meant to last forever

Friday, September 14, 2012

Someone — my great-grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, someone — told me how fathers announced the upcoming wedding of their daughters more than a century ago in the small, southern Illinois farming community where I was raised. The story goes like this: After a wedding date was set, the bride’s father saddled his finest horse […]

Numbers, what they really mean?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Since figures backstop fact, numbers are the meat and potatoes and forks and knives of journalism. They are, in a word, beautiful, and, like true beauty, they can take your breath away. For example, in the faint light of early Aug. 10, my daily newspaper reported that Tom Laughlin would mark his 81st birthday that […]

Sorting lies, distortions and lawsuits

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Somewhere along the line, it became acceptable to bend and break the record of public figures and firms without any consequence whatsoever. Shortly thereafter, distortion and deception replaced discussion and debate and yelling and lying replaced compromise and progress. And that’s just in agriculture; in politics, it’s even worse. The latest farm and food fight […]

‘All these numbers’ tell a story now

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In modern political campaigns it’s a given that opponents will attack each others’ ideas, misrepresent each others’ record and, metaphorically, make every attempt to rip each others’ ugly face off. Since this vitriol is expected, little of it finds traction. It’s “politics as usual” and, as usual, it rarely changes minds, votes or outcomes. A […]

Take it from Uncle Honey, take a nap once and a while

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One part of every day on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was inviolate: the noon nap; nearly everyone took one. We didn’t rest very long, just 30 minutes or so, because the farm work never rested long. The naps, however, were as integral a part of our farm routine as the big […]

U.S. House stalls farm bill progress

Friday, August 10, 2012

Journalism school doesn’t make cynics out of people who pick up the pen for a living. Committing journalism — using the pen to chronicle the escapades of crooks and crackpots you encounter as a journalist — often does, though. A glaring example of this transformation arrived in the late July action of Speaker of the […]

What will kick Congress into gear?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Alan Guebert takes Washington to task on the 2012 Farm Bill.

Be wary of the banksters in Washington

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On July 17, the U.S. Senate pulled off a Half Ginsburg by convening three Capitol Hill hearings on why the crooks and crackpots in charge of global finance find it ridiculously easy to make suckers out of you and me and Swiss cheese out of American laws. William Ginsburg, you may recall, represented Monica Lewinsky […]

Can’t duck crop insurance disaster

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Many on Capitol Hill are quick to point out that “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.” What they never add is that this little blinding glimpse of the obvious has never stopped legislative quackery in the past and it’s not stopping it now. Drought impact For example, […]

Readers know how to write, too

Friday, July 13, 2012

On an early morning bicycle ride I roll past a massive red combine slumbering at the end of a freshly barbered wheat field.<

‘Free markets’ really aren’t free

Thursday, July 5, 2012

If there’s no such thing as a free lunch — and there isn’t: even the United States Department of Agriculture’s “free” National School Lunch Program cost $10.8 billion in fiscal year 2010 — then it stands to reason that the free market might not be entirely free either. Financial markets For example, to ensure that […]

A golden goose for chicken feed

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Every week for 19 years this 170 square-foot, two-dog, one-person office has declared its complete devotion to numbers. For example, just last week we found it completely fascinating that in just three days this month 100 U.S. senators offered 302 amendments to an ag committee-approved 2012 farm bill that already ran more than 1,000 pages. […]

Bigger programs, bigger boondoggles

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In mid-June, the best guessers on Capitol Hill handicapped a probable 2012 Farm bill this way: either the Senate passes its version by the Fourth of July to push the House to act by late summer or no farm law will pass until after the November general election. That either-or view takes in a lot […]

Some hot numbers in cold times

Thursday, June 14, 2012

As the world stumbles toward a summer of financial winter, one part of the American economy continues its merry, five-year waltz: U.S. ag exports are forecast to reach $134.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012. Estimate That estimate, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture May 31, is $3.5 billion higher than USDA’s February guess and […]

Go ahead and bet against Europe

Thursday, June 7, 2012

When I hopped on the ag journalism jet in 1981, the European Union (known then as the European Economic Union) forecast it would spend a fabulous sum — $5 billion or so — on its farm support program, the Common Agricultural Policy. By comparison, the USDA estimated total 1981 farm program costs here would be […]

Take a guess how this is going to end

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Since you speak English as well as anyone, perhaps you understand the working paragraph of a May 19 Washington Post column that explains the trading strategy employed by JP Morgan Chase & Co. to, ah, hedge its market risk. It reads: “It is this exemption that would allow (J.P. Morgan executive, Ina) Drew and her […]

Big numbers should trigger hard questions

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hard numbers, hard questions and even harder answers.

The wisdom of hard work on the farm: ‘It won’t kill you’

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It is the universal German Lutheran explanation for all the unnecessary sweat generated by farm folks since the Garden of Eden, “Besides, it doesn’t kill us.”

Sugar water or Kool-Aid?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Alan Guebert reacts to the recently passed Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.

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About Alan

Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com