Every year ends on Dec. 31. Every baseball season ends with the World Series. Growing seasons end with a hard freeze and the opera season is over when a large, round lady sings. Today’s ag political season, however, never ends. Farm bills take more than two years to write and they’re still not written. Negotiations […]
There are two file folders in the lower, right drawer of my desk. One is labeled “Mail,” the other “Another Satisfied Customer.” The former is filled with complimentary or question-asking reader mail. The latter holds mail that’s more acidic than affectionate, more hammering than humorous. Like an email from “Gil” in response to an October […]
The weekly hometown newspaper recently brought news of a family friend’s death. The friend, a dairy farmer, had lived a long, good life and was a respected member of his church, community and profession. My family’s connection, outside of cows and kids, was business: He, my father and a few dozen farmers in neighboring southern […]
Big Ag — John Deere, Dow, Monsanto, Pioneer, and Syngenta — are “on the verge of going ‘all in’” on big data collection, analysis and operational planning.
Like most Americans of 1955 or so vintage, the lovely Catherine and I will spend time this week recalling our personal whos, whats, whens and wheres of President John F. Kennedy’s murder, funeral and burial 50 years ago. It is likely, though, we won’t talk much about JFK’s politics and policy because we were too […]
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 […]