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Farm and Food File Results

One plan, three men and 50 years

Thursday, January 13, 2011

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 […]

Let there be light in the pork markets

Thursday, January 6, 2011

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 […]

Dear Mr. Apples and Oranges

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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 […]

The ‘level playing field’ of trade

Thursday, December 16, 2010

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 […]

Hog producers not going to have a very merry Christmas this year

Thursday, December 9, 2010

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 […]

Cattle industry flying for 79 floors

Thursday, December 2, 2010

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 […]

Always cows; usually a turkey

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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 […]

This isn’t going to be a tea party

Thursday, November 18, 2010

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 […]

Proposed GIPSA rules may be a good thing for packers in future

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If you only quote the Amen Corner, the only reply you’ll ever hear is “Hallelujah!” And so it was in late October when yet another hired preacher of the Meatpacker Gang, a Brooklyn, N.Y., outfit named John Dunham & Associates, claimed proposed rules to bring meatpackers into compliance with the Packers & Stockyards Act will […]

Lucas likely to head Ag Committee

Thursday, October 28, 2010

If the current political forecast holds, Nov. 2 will deliver House Democrats their biggest pasting since 1994. With over 60 of their seats either leaning or already lost to GOP challengers, House Dems appear headed for the political weeds. That could be especially so for Dems from corn and cattle country. Several mid-October polls show […]

I believe in Santa Claus. No, really.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Like an over-filler auger wagon, I cannot carry this load anymore, so, for the record, let me say this plainly and sincerely: I believe in Santa Claus. This admission may surprise friends who treasure my many rare abilities and foes who fear my modesty. Who, after all, is more rare or more modest than me? […]

Universities can’t serve two interests

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A September piece in The Economist, the esteemed English business and political weekly, makes the bold statement that “America’s universities lost their way badly in the era of easy money. If they do not find it again, they may go the way of GM,” the global automotive giant that became a global lemon in less […]

On the road to France, where buckets of butter and veal fill their stomachs

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When the lovely Catherine and I travel, we often follow a plan that is purposely vague. Sure, we know where we’re going, but the route we drive, fly or canoe to reach it often could be described as “north out of Des Moines” or “turn right at Amarillo.” This year’s big adventure, however, defied footloose: […]

Phosphorus market: Gravest, strategic U.S. issue you’ve never heard of

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Before anyone smiles too broadly about the grain prices, they might want to take a peek at fertilizer prices. If so, they’ll discover, as DTN reporter Russ Quinn recently did, the only price rising faster than either corn or wheat is fertilizer. “Six fertilizers have seen double-digit increases in price compared to one year earlier,” […]

The days of buses, bullies and books

Thursday, September 23, 2010

By mid-September, most children west of the Ohio have a month of the new school year already on the books. That means some young scholar right now is discovering the beauty of the Pythagorean Theorem, trying to remember what “is” is in Spanish and wishing he or she didn’t have to get on that big, […]

Remember, people vote, cattle don’t

Thursday, September 9, 2010

During a sudsy session in a college pub nearly 40 years ago, a friend wryly observed that every person lacks one word in what he labeled their “personal vocabulary.” Looking my way, Charlie explained. “For example, Alan, your missing word is ‘height.’” Everyone laughed. Clever. “My missing word,” continued the extroverted friend, “is ‘modesty.’” We […]

Keep an eye on $40 billion potash pie

Thursday, September 2, 2010

American farmers hardly noticed when, in mid-August, news broke that Australian-based BHP Billiton was willing to pay nearly $40 billion for the world’s largest fertilizer producer, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Inc. The disinterest was honest; after all, who was BHP Billiton and what did it want with a Canadian fertilizer firm in the steady, if […]

Ohio livestock growers caged by farm groups

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What was to be a clever, voter-sanctioned effort to fence out the animals-are-people-crowd in Ohio last year is, depending on your perspective, either a progressive way for farm and animal rights groups to work together toward humane livestock production or a total sell-out of livestock producers by Big Ag to the Humane Society of the […]

Lack of internal controls could present problems for cattle industry

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You know it’s gonna’ be a bad day when you open your e-mail and see that day’s New York Times’ sports your picture pleading over why your organization… well, here’s how the Aug. 2 Times explains it: “An influential cattle industry group misused money raised from ranchers and farmers for promoting beef sales and violated […]

It’s weaning time for packers

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A lot of bellowing and bawling was heard from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other in the late July heat of Washington, D.C. In fact, so much whining and wailing was heard that it was difficult to make out the usual voices of lobbyists, politicians and staffers. The new, sweaty chorus sounded more […]

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