As the roaring combine sawed through 30 feet of soybeans at a fast-walk pace last October, a farming friend, through the convenience of his cell phone, sold 160 acres of still-standing corn for a couple or three nickels over $3 per bushel upon harvest.
A college friend once noted that everyone is missing one word from their personal vocabulary. “My missing word is modesty,” he pronounced.
One hundred years ago this week, the nation’s first extensive food safety laws went into effect. Inspired by Upton Sinclair’s stomach-churning novel The Jungle, President Theodore Roosevelt bullied Congress into passing the Food and Drug Act.
In 2006, ethanol was the strong tail wagging the farm dog. In 2007, ethanol will be the big, well-muscled dog whose price-pumping tail will stir every farm market and nearly every public policy debate.
The move from the big house to the smaller home a year ago brought a pint-sized office, three dozen banker boxes to replace nine, overfilled filing cabinets and a new, tiny-by-comparison work desk.
In late July, this space highlighted recent investigative stories by reporters at the Washington Post.
The big wins Senate and House Democrats enjoyed Nov. 7 will deliver them bigger titles, bigger offices, bigger staffs, bigger responsibilities and bigger expectations when the 110th Congress convenes in early January.
About the time most Americans werecarving their Thanksgiving turkey, Australia’s virtual wheat export monopoly, AWB Ltd, was being carved up like a Christmas turkey – a Christmas turkey for U.
For years, farmers’ hearts would leap when the word “ethanol” appeared in a newspaper headline. Now farmers almost dread it because they know the ensuing story is likely to outline the inevitable bust that awaits them if the current unplanned, willy-nilly ethanol boom continues.
According to most political wags, Nov. 7’s election results were delivered more by do-nothing Republicans than by here’s-what-we-want-to-do Democrats.
In the run-up to the Nov. 7 election, any candidate worth a baby-kissing pucker instantly, enthusiastically and repeatedly took the ethanol pledge.
In a move somewhere between brilliantly audacious and unbelievably outrageous, Monsanto’s Aug. 15 offer to buy Delta & Pine Land Co.
The weakly regulated, wild west show that has been the Chicago futures markets is poised to become a wilder, more global show now that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange announced it was purchasing archrival Chicago Board of Trade for $8 billion.
Show me the contents of a person’s wallet and I’ll outline their life. My skinny wallet, for example, holds just two credit cards (likes convenience, hates consumer debt), a grocery store discount card (cheapskate), a driver’s license, voter’s registration card and fishing license (name, address, age, dull life) as well as a blood donor card (O Positive).
As fast as time usually passes, it seems to pick up even greater speed in the fall. Corn and soybeans, like maples’ leaves, appear to turn golden one day, brown the next and, at least so to me, are gone the next.
Leaving a backlog of work it clearly had no appetite for, a deeply divided, very worried Congress skedaddled out of Washington at the end of September to make its re-election case to an equally divided, equally worried electorate.
On September’s two middle Wednesdays, American agriculture’s soft hands and hard hands – its lobbyists and farmers – brought their 2007 farm bill shopping lists to the House Agriculture Committee.
Even before the ink had dried on last week’s column – a detailed report that, at least to me, made an ironclad case not to raid the Conservation Reserve Program to fuel the anticipated ethanol boom – members of the House Agriculture Committee were listening to testimony that urged a raid on the program to fuel the ethanol boom.
Drop a pebble in the ag policy pond and the resulting ripples seem to rush over many farmers’ self-interest.
Farmers and ranchers live in an ocean of numbers. And like the tide, the numbers – pigs-per-litter, gain-per-pound, bushels-per-acre, dollars-per-bushel – can’t be held back; they keep coming and keep adding to our nation’s food story.