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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Alan Guebert takes Washington to task on the 2012 Farm Bill.
On July 17, the U.S. Senate pulled off a Half Ginsburg by convening three Capitol Hill hearings on why the crooks and crackpots in charge of global finance find it ridiculously easy to make suckers out of you and me and Swiss cheese out of American laws. William Ginsburg, you may recall, represented Monica Lewinsky […]
Many on Capitol Hill are quick to point out that “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.” What they never add is that this little blinding glimpse of the obvious has never stopped legislative quackery in the past and it’s not stopping it now. Drought impact For example, […]
On an early morning bicycle ride I roll past a massive red combine slumbering at the end of a freshly barbered wheat field.<
If there’s no such thing as a free lunch — and there isn’t: even the United States Department of Agriculture’s “free” National School Lunch Program cost $10.8 billion in fiscal year 2010 — then it stands to reason that the free market might not be entirely free either. Financial markets For example, to ensure that […]
Every week for 19 years this 170 square-foot, two-dog, one-person office has declared its complete devotion to numbers. For example, just last week we found it completely fascinating that in just three days this month 100 U.S. senators offered 302 amendments to an ag committee-approved 2012 farm bill that already ran more than 1,000 pages. […]
In mid-June, the best guessers on Capitol Hill handicapped a probable 2012 Farm bill this way: either the Senate passes its version by the Fourth of July to push the House to act by late summer or no farm law will pass until after the November general election. That either-or view takes in a lot […]
As the world stumbles toward a summer of financial winter, one part of the American economy continues its merry, five-year waltz: U.S. ag exports are forecast to reach $134.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012. Estimate That estimate, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture May 31, is $3.5 billion higher than USDA’s February guess and […]
When I hopped on the ag journalism jet in 1981, the European Union (known then as the European Economic Union) forecast it would spend a fabulous sum — $5 billion or so — on its farm support program, the Common Agricultural Policy. By comparison, the USDA estimated total 1981 farm program costs here would be […]
Since you speak English as well as anyone, perhaps you understand the working paragraph of a May 19 Washington Post column that explains the trading strategy employed by JP Morgan Chase & Co. to, ah, hedge its market risk. It reads: “It is this exemption that would allow (J.P. Morgan executive, Ina) Drew and her […]
Hard numbers, hard questions and even harder answers.
It is the universal German Lutheran explanation for all the unnecessary sweat generated by farm folks since the Garden of Eden, “Besides, it doesn’t kill us.”
Alan Guebert reacts to the recently passed Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.
In a striking, two-and-a-half page analysis that ran counter to department leanings, the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture strongly objected to the department’s use of two outside studies that justified the massive retooling — essentially gutting — of the 2010 update of Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules to ensure […]
Before I was lucky enough to keep myself in suds and my family in socks with this weekly effort, my previous boss liked to remind me that I had “the best job in ag journalism.” He was right because I spent most of my time and his money writing profiles of the political and intellectual […]