What is it about American agriculture that inspires farm and ranch groups to not trust American consumers? What do we fear?
In a recent television interview, famed Wall Street investor Warren Buffett characterized the October federal government shut-down as “totally irresponsible” and said the failure of leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to raise the nation’s debt ceiling until moments before possible default was “just plain stupid.” Unlike most stock market billionaires, Buffett wasn’t talking […]
Some things never change: In 1981, the White House and Congress were locked in a farm bill fight the likes of which no one had seen before. On one side was an overwhelmingly Democratic House and Senate that wanted more active federal policies on export embargoes, target prices and dairy support prices. They easily had […]
From the baking but breezy rest stop in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert, Interstate 15 disappears into the low mountains southwest toward Los Angeles and northeast towards Las Vegas. The desert is huge, brown and desolate. The highway is flat, gray and jammed with cars roaring both directions at 70 miles an hour. California […]
On a sparkling fall day a week before the first FarmAid concert at the University of Illinois, I drove the back roads to Champaign to pick up two press passes for the lovely Catherine and me. It was mid-September, 1985, and the brown corn and yellowing soybeans rattled and rippled in a soothing breeze against […]
There are two reasons to keep up-to-speed on the fast pace of events in what would seem to be the very dull world of potash. The first reason is that the key players in this once-tightly controlled market continue to lose their grip on it. According to analysts, prices for this key fertilizer will continue […]
So just what was Congress, and especially the U.S. House of Representatives, doing when it entered the final week of its high-speed game of chicken with the White House and three out of four Americans who said loudly and clearly they did not want a government shutdown? Politics One part of the answer, the political […]
Just before the Labor Day weekend began, Aug. 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced China was welcome “to export processed, cooked chicken to the United States.” If USDA hoped this little nugget might get overlooked during summer’s last, languid holiday, that thought was deep-fried by noon when Politico, the […]
Our good friends at Progressive Farmer magazine fill 15 pages of their September issue with a well-researched, well-written “special report” on “Feeding the World.” ( http://www.dtnpf-digital.com/#&pageSet=26) The four-color, four-story package hits all the humane highlights U.S. farmers and ranchers expect in these stories of manifest destiny when “the world will look to the U.S. to […]
A lean hog is not a fat chicken but the marketing geniuses hired by the National Pork Board sure sold a lotta’ hams, bacons and butts when, in 1987, they began to promote pork as “The Other White Meat.” Now, 25 years after that brilliant slight of hand, the pork crowd wants to be known […]
The weekly newspaper from my hometown bring news that the small, rural Catholic church near the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth will close its doors next year, a casualty, according to its distant bosses, of too few priests and too many parishes. No planning It’s a judgment day that many of the […]
The July 30 news that Uralkali, the huge Russian potash producer, was pulling out of the global fertilizer cartel might be that nation’s richest gift to American farmers since the Great Grain Robbery in 1972. Unlike the grain-buying deal that carried grain prices to 125-year highs 41 Julys ago, this July’s move will drain potash […]
So you think you’re going to get a farm bill by the time the budget brawl breaks out Oct. 1?
The hay is blooming, the sun is shining and, in the coming month, Congress is bringing its dysfunction to a VFW hall or church basement near you.
After a 10-day cooling off period known as the Fourth of July recess, House and Senate members came back to steamy, hot Washington, D.C. July 9 to do exactly what most Americans expected them to do: Spew more steamy, hot bilge at each other. These folks are, after all, seasoned professionals when it comes to […]
Twice a year readers who write, telephone or send drone aircraft to my office take over this space to air their gripes, grievances and gratitude. As in the past, gracious letters outnumber the ones soaked in jalapeno sauce. Unlike the past, however, this year’s peppery correspondence contains record levels of heat. A mid-May email from […]
In yet another testament to the careful inattention this office consistently pays to the career of its founding (and, as ever, only) staff member, an anniversary of sorts came and went a month ago with nary a notice, nod or neigh. During the first week of June, 1993, 20 alarmingly fast years ago, this column […]
If you thought the farm bill fight was bad, you’re gonna hate the coming battle over the reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). You remember the CFTC, right? Futures market regulator It’s the futures market regulator that everyone despises until some brokerage firm takes $700 million from customer accounts a day before it […]
June meant the end of school, the beginning of summer and the arrival of dairy month.Now, somehow, June has become the Golf Channel’s official Pace of Play Month, LGBT Pride Month (you can look that up) and Farm Bill Month. Little wonder rural folks are cranky; enjoying frosty bowls of vanilla ice cream on the […]
There’s many reasons to be thrilled about Shuanghui International Holding Inc.’s proposed $4.7 billion purchase of Smithfield Foods, Inc. Here’s only 10…