For 35 years I have returned to Indian Farm, when I can, to replenish what it first gave me as a child.
By law and by USDA’s failure “to restore operational integrity” to the checkoff, NCBA remains the single, biggest benefactor of checkoff cash.
In Congress, the House aggies aren’t exactly tied up with policy debates to address, say, today’s soaring food prices, the nation’s perilously thin food stocks or a dysfunctional federal dairy policy.
Families, careers, whole lives take turns that are completely unpredictable. I mean, one minute you’re looking out the window of your third-floor college dorm room in sleepy boredom and the next minute you can’t breathe because, on the sidewalk below, is the lovely, curly-haired creature you absolutely must meet and marry. Hey, it happens. Then, […]
It’s not the choices you make in the bad times that usually cause you the most trouble. It’s the choices you make in the good times that often lead to the biggest disasters.
As has been noted here before, most journalists get into the writing game because they cannot do math. I don’t mean the hard stuff like differential equations; I mean the incredibly hard stuff like subtraction and division. Math-challenged as we ink blots might be, we are Nobel Laureates compared to the sausage grinders on Capitol […]
On Dec. 20, 17 people from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including Secretary Tom Vilsack, 10 from non-governmental organizations, 10 from seed and food firms and 18 from industry groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Biotech Industry Organization met at USDA to discuss “Alfalfa Production Co-Existence.” The benign title belied what many […]
After hiring into the market newsletter biz 30 years ago, my new bosses informed me that I’d sink or swim on how well I learned either fundamental or technical market analysis. I had two weeks to master one. Since fundamental analysis centers on farm and ranch facts and figures and technical analysis relies on charts […]
Rare is the person, topic or issue that finds the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in unison. In the last two months, however, the voices of the world’s most-respected liberal and most-respected conservative editorial pages sang perfect harmony on one topic, their intense dislike of ethanol, the corn-based […]
When the nearby link of a national grocery chain hosted a beef sale last summer, this carnivore grabbed his checkbook and motored to the store’s meatcase as fast as the Exploder’s worn wheel bearings allowed. They’re Angus At the store I was greeted with a ruby wave of shrink-wrapped beef loins sporting stickers that announced […]
It wouldn’t be a new year without the big players in the $80 million-per-year beef checkoff — the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Federation of Qualified State Beef Councils and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — squaring off over checkoff money, programs and control. And so it is again as members of this tall-walker trinity gather […]
Two fat sparrows sit in the trough of a bird feeder outside my office window and eat their way through today’s snowstorm. Six feet away, a squadron of chickadees does touch-eat-and-goes on a second feeder. In the snow below, a plump dove dines on the sorghum scattered by the unmannered sparrows. As I sip my […]
When Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry and Fred Kirschenmann get together, conversation, laughter and ideas flow. Other than a closeness in age, the three appear to have little in common. Jackson is a Ph.D. plant breeder and founder, in 1976, of The Land Institute, a Salina, Kan., nonprofit dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to food’s uncertain […]
A Dec. 28, 2010, Wall Street Journal story laments the “near-halt” of pork belly trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Bellies were “once among the CME’s most-traded commodities,” but now “the pork belly is in danger of going belly-up.” Indeed, only six belly contracts traded in November 2010. Why? Two chief reasons, say experts cited […]
Another final column of the year and, as is the custom, another year where readers will have the final word. Some of their words are bitter, some are sweet and all arrive with either red hot passion or cold blue conviction. Take the mid-August email that started, “You didn’t do a very good job of […]
Some phrases just make the heart flutter. “Call the vet,” was one that always tripped my father’s ticker. “Level the playing field of trade,” has the same effect on me. Level the playing field of trade. Strategy Hmm, is it a negotiating strategy, a goal, an ideal? Wait a second; don’t I want an unlevel […]
As Christmas approaches, some seasonal elves will shop, some will bake, some will string a couple of megawatts of colorful lights from the front porch to the barn. I hope to avoid most of this season-pushing by burrowing into my den of paper to wait out all this buying, baking and beautifying. Three weeks from […]
Twice a week, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman drives political and economic policymakers into full rant on topics as opposite as global free trade (he loves it) and national industrial policy (he loves it, too). Kiss him or kick him, Friedman can turn a phrase. A current Friedmanism notes that “If you jump […]
On the 100-cow, southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, two hearty helpings of Holsteins were always on the Thanksgiving Day menu. In between came other entrees — church, usually a turkey, pie, a nap and, often, a pinochle game. The turkey was the “usual” dinner centerpiece, but not always, because I remember one or […]
If ascendant Republicans act on what they say was the clear message sent by voters Nov. 2, the 112th Congress ain’t gonna be a tea party. Boiling pigs Oh, something will boil, all right. It may be the fat most politicians claim is stored in all those pork barrels on Capitol Hill. After that, maybe […]