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Farm and Food File Results

Crop insurance: ‘Just insane’

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Neither the outcome of the federal election nor the fast-approaching budget “fiscal cliff” bothered any of the 250 gawkers and bidders at a 1,170-acre land rental auction Nov. 10 in Thurman, Iowa. That’s right, an auction where the right to crop one family’s five parcels of Fremont County, Iowa, the absolute southwest corner of the […]

Santa, if you can’t bring a combine or a farm bill, how ’bout some hay?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You, my friend, are one tough customer for Santa. I mean, like many, the Fat Man knows food, but he doesn’t know farming. As such, he gets lost in the jargon when trying to pick the perfect gift for you and your farming and ranching pals. For example, just last week Old Kris texted to […]

Lame ducks holding up the farm bill

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On the face of it, few things carry a more apt name than today’s “lame duck” Congress. Indeed, how lame is it that after two years of raw partisanship and paralyzing inactivity, we believe two legislative bodies that haven’t agreed on what day it is since 2010 will — what — reform taxes, pass a […]

Did Mississippi Farm Bureau railroad state director for opinions?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

To hear Fred Stokes tell it, he got carried away “a mite” in a Kansas City news conference Aug. 10 with his explanation of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board over the management of the beef checkoff. Noting that the Humane Society of the U.S. had done the […]

Cooking goose brings back memories

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For the first year in five, the lovely Catherine and I will not be driving a sack of sweet potatoes, a cooler with a thawing turkey buried under dozens of adult beverages and a jar of sauerkraut to Washington D.C. for Thanksgiving with The Heirs. Different plans Instead, we’ll be slicing a bird and playing […]

Grandpa and dad knew balance while farming was vital

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life seems to bounce from one hard lesson to the next. For example, no sooner than someone tells you “It’s not about the money,” you learn that, yes, it’s always about the money. Then, after years of working hard to acquire that money, you discover that, no, you can’t take it with you. Farming and […]

Creaming the co-op: There appears to be no winners in the milk battle

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sometimes it takes a newspaper’s ink-stained thumb to right the scale of justice, and no newspaper has a bigger, inkier thumb than the New York Times. On Sunday, Oct. 28, the Times published a 2,900-word tribute to the greedy good-old-boyism that seems to have been the only business plan of America’s biggest dairy cooperative, Dairy […]

In California she says tomato; he says GMO delivery device

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It’s pretty hard to be taken seriously in any debate if, geographically, you are located on the “Left Coast,” have elected a person known nationally as “Governor Moonbeam” to statewide office five times and are home to an industry, movie-making, built on fantasy that’s centered in an area referred to as “LaLa Land.” Farm fight […]

Global markets: High speed crazies

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If it’s a bad idea to play with matches, it’s an even worse idea to play with a blowtorch in a fireworks factory. And yet that’s just what farmers and ranchers do every time they price their cattle, corn, cotton and other commodities in global markets dominated by “high frequency trading,” trading driven by computers […]

Organic by another name: Science

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In most public policy debates, everyone favors “science” until science begins to favor one side over the other. When that occurs, science, suddenly, isn’t so hallowed and name-calling soon takes over. Rare, however, is the instance when an apparent winner in a science face-off uses so much name-calling during a victory lap that the intended […]

Autumn’s splendor restores my soul

Friday, October 12, 2012

Somehow a notice went out a week ago to all the blue jays in Illinois that the acorns on (what I think is) a shingle oak outside my office were ripe for the picking. Within hours, a dozen or more jays appeared in the tree’s top branches to pluck, shuck and consume the soft fruit […]

The farm bill gamble could be costly

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A long, bitter year in the long, bitter Congressional session drifted into the campaign season with the U.S. House of Representatives unable or unwilling to butter the softest piece of legislative toast before them, the 2012 Farm Bill. Speaker of the House John Boehner attempted to telegraph that likely outcome two months ago as Congress […]

All the news they want to print

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born American media titan, is having one tough year on both sides of the Atlantic. On the Old World side, several of his British newspaper editors have been disgraced, arrested or fired for an alleged phone-hacking scheme that reached into royal palaces and political offices. The mess cost Murdoch his empire’s crown […]

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 […]

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 […]

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