The tall, mostly dead red oak on the eastern edge of the farmette still stands this late, long winter, saved mostly by this late, long winter. The majestic, strong-armed tree, my age or a little more, had a date with the saw and maul as soon as the weather turned cold. Deep snow and face-cracking […]
On Jan. 5, 2011, www.gop.gov, the website for the “House Republican Majority,” trumpeted news that its members had acted on their “promise” to “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.” […]
Early February was not a good time to be an American carnivore. First, on Feb. 8, Rancho Feeding Co. of Petaluma, Calif., announced it was recalling 8.7 million pounds of beef carcasses and cuts. That’s virtually every pound of the company’s 2013 throughput. Reason The reason for the recall, explained the Feb. 11 Los Angeles […]
If you’re an ag-dependent advertising agency, a commodity organization hired hand or an ag journalist who can’t do math, commodity checkoffs are a gift that just keeps on giving. The most recent checkoff gift comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. The OIG released a 29-page report Jan. 31 on […]
Columnist says the new farm bill does not justify the time and work it took.
The farm bill may be settled, but the process was ugly.
You wouldn’t order a new pick-up truck without reserving the right to amend—choose—how the truck is equipped inside and out. The same goes for a new combine or an operating loan. After all, it’s your farm or ranch so, naturally, you’ll choose what’s right for you and it and not let some ratchet-jawed salesman dictate […]
Claims of food stamp fraud just don’t match up with reality.
A week or two into every new year, most folks review, often regretfully, their list of resolutions already bent, broken or buried. That never happened on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth for one simple reason: We never made any New Year’s resolutions. We didn’t. Honest. In fact, I can’t recall one […]
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 […]