Stories by Alan Guebert

Checkoff oversight virtually nil

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More and more, the federally-mandated, non-refundable commodity checkoffs resemble something out of a Charles Dickens novel. Most feature huge casts, complicated plots and, to read their press releases, are completely responsible for the best of times enjoyed by their farm- and ranch-payers. Truth But when federal auditors examine almost any aspect of the 18 checkoffs […]

Bigger and bigger and …

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It was, literally, a sight for sore eyes. Two years ago March 12, trumpets blasted in Ankeny, Iowa, as America’s new gladiators for agricultural justice — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., his antitrust chief Christine Varney, U.S. Department of Agriculture boss Tom Vilsack and hundreds of farmers — gathered for a day-long discussion on […]

Agriculture needs better leaders

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How will we — farmers everywhere — sustain our ability to feed any of us when there are more of us and less of everything else? Sheep, excellent or otherwise, ain’t gonna get that job done. Leaders will.

It should be easy: English for the eater

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ranchers have a well-earned reputation for speaking plain English plainly. Translation As such, cowboys instantly translate phrases like “government revenue enhancements” and “now pursuing other career opportunities” into “tax increases” and “got fired” without one twitch of their upper lip or one hitch in their giddyup. So what do these straight talkers call “lean finely-textured […]

Watch the traffic, not the lights

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A good friend recently reminded me of a story Jackie “Moms” Mabley liked to tell about how easily people are misled into trusting the wrong thing or person. “People always tell me ‘Moms, watch the lights’ when I’m crossing the street,” Moms would relate, “and I’d always ask, ‘Why?’ I mean, lights never killed nobody, […]

Shouldn’t be a mystery to farm folks: The customer is always right

Thursday, March 8, 2012

UEP is working with the Humane Society of the U.S. to codify federal regulations it knows its customers know they want for its chickens.

What is the grain market telling us?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

As corn and soybeans cash prices flutter around their post-harvest highs, a farmer telephones with a question: How do February’s stronger prices compare to 2010 season average prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton? Well, let’s see. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the national average cash price for 2010 corn was $6.38 per […]

I’m going fishing … checkoff style

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sometimes you just got to shoot the fish in the barrel and take the candy from babies. As a hunter of barrel-trapped fish who always takes candy from babies — that’s right, I’m a journalist — I can spot a carp from any golf course or barstool in any light any day of the week. […]

Snowy winter days sure have changed

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A dash of sugar-like snow is almost lost in the brown grass and gray sky out my back door. Winter’s dullness seems to have finally caught February and the weight has slowed it to a cold crawl. Fifty years ago a tablespoon more snow or a teaspoon more ice would have changed a plow horse […]

MF Global was not running on vapor

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The lead story on the front page of the Jan. 30 Wall Street Journal reported “that a ‘significant amount’” of an estimated $1.2 billion in customer money that disappeared when investment bank MF Global Holdings Ltd. collapsed “could have ‘vaporized’ as a result of chaotic trading … the week before the company’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing.”

Crude oil and crude politics

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Like the weather, everyone complains about how slanderous politics has become but no one ever does anything about it.

Do the math: Oil ($$) trumps food

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In south Texas, 407 million gallons of water will yield either $200,000 of corn or $2.5 billion of oil and gas. That means there are 12,500 times more reasons to use the water to extract oil and gas than to grow corn and cows.

The good old farmboy network

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Most folks are familiar with the Good old boy network, a loose collection of family and friends that can be tapped for personal or business needs. Few, however, know that agriculture has it own network, the good old farmboy network.

Iowa State may want shy from African lands

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It’s hard to see Iowa State University’s key role in a plan by one of its top officials to develop an 800,000-acre farm in Tanzania as anything other than institutional polish to a massive African land deal for politically-connected financial titans. Connections And, yet, there sits ISU, smack in the middle of a geopolitical web […]

Auld Lang sighs as 2012 begins

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Before this 2012 thing gets too far down the road, let’s take a sober second or two to review some of the more inventive ideas from 2011 and see if we can’t make them work in the coming 12 months of political and economic stalemate.

Farm and Food File: Readers respond in year-end column

Thursday, December 29, 2011

As we slip into the sweet week between Christmas and New Year’s there’s only one task to complete before clearing the desk and brain of all things 2011: readers having the last word in the last column of the year.

Farm and Food File: Christmas joy in the gymnasium

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A month ago I enjoyed a church dinner in the gymnasium of the grade school I attended 50 years ago. Back then, the gym sparkled with newness because, like the school itself, it was brand new, finished just weeks before I reported to the first grade as an equally new student.

Food or fuel: What do you believe in?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the world has never produced more food, fed more people and, simultaneously, never had so many hungry people.

Farm and Food File: Listen up, hired hands in Congress

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How do you explain Congress’ public approval rating of only 9 percent and still not one hint of any change in the collective behavior that has made the institution and its members as popular as chickenpox?

‘… the least of these my brothers…’

Thursday, December 1, 2011

As the Sunday, Nov. 20 network news’ yakkers were working hard to fix the blame for the Super Committee’s failed attempts to fix last summer’s failed attempts to fix Congress’s failed attempts to fix the federal budget, 25 or so Americans gathered in a central Illinois church to hear their pastor explain that day’s Gospel, Matthew 25: 31-46.

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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