Of all the political hot rocks farm groups are juggling now in Washington, D.C. — cap-and-trade, cuts in crop insurance, shrinking farm program budgets — I’ll bet you a cup of coffee you cannot name the issue that recently united ag heavyweights as diverse as the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. That […]
Not one new rule, not one new regulation and not one new knuckle-rapping regulator was created in 2009 to rein in the knuckle-draggers that traded an estimated $592 trillion, or 12 times the world’s total economic output, in over-the-counter, in-the-dark derivatives last year.
Sometime shortly after March 1, winter lost its frozen grip on my backyard and brown blotches of lifeless grass and small mats of soggy hickory leaves began to emerge from their cemetery of snow. It didn’t come as a surprise, though, because for a week the loud, love-sick calls of flaming red cardinals had drifted […]
Farm seed prices almost tripled in four years and, unlike other big input markets, now show no sign of backing — or even letting — up. Columnist Alan Guebert wades in to the ag competition fray.
Type the phrase “farmers feeding world” into Google’s search engine and “about 15 million results” pop up in “0.12 seconds.” Some results may surprise American farmers who, in good old U-S-of-A modesty, may have thought they had been, were and will be feeding the world. Not so, suggests the hunter-gatherers at Google. Every farmer matters […]
In the ever-expanding galaxy of American jurisprudence, few stars shine as brilliantly as Richard A. Posner, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. The best Everything about Posner screams the best: Yale undergrad, Harvard Law, Supreme Court clerk, Stanford law professor, federal judge since 1981, author of more […]
Talk is cheap but words have meaning. In a mid-January speech to the 400 or so farmers, vendors and state officials at the 10th annual Minnesota Organic Conference in St. Cloud, I spent most of my hour talking about words like “elitist,” “educate,” “farmer,” “producer,” “customer” and even “mule.” Attack I thought the talk went […]
Like Henny “Take my wife — please” Youngman, Steven Wright has built a comedy career on one-line jokes. A classic Wright one-liner unblinkingly and unsmilingly asks: “Twenty-four hours in a day, 24 beers in a case — coincidence?” The question is clever and rhetorical; laughter is its only answer. Lots of coincidences January seemed to […]
When the cowboys of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association ride into San Antonio for the Cattle Industry Annual Convention and NCBA Trade Show Jan. 27, the hottest topic of the four-day meeting won’t be stale markets, packer shenanigans or another ground beef recall. No, the biggest bone to chew will be NCBA’s plan to put […]
Roosters crow, cows moo and pigs squeal. To be more precise, proud roosters crow, contented cows moo and, contrary to popular folklore, scared pigs — not happy ones — squeal. In fact, the more scared the pig, the louder the squeal. This simple piece of farm knowledge was confirmed, again, in a squeal-packed, Jan. 5 […]
Iowa’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture starts 2010 embroiled in controversy over its next director.
Rare is the new year that begins without me wondering how I took a wrong turn on the road of life and became a writer rather than a highly paid, universally respected, heaven-bound meatpacking executive. Of course it wasn’t my fault; my farming parents bear complete responsibility. Great shortcoming I mention this great shortcoming on […]
Come on, you don’t want to end this year reading what an aging aggie like me thinks the “Best Stories of 2009″ are. Easy as it might be — health care, global warming, cap-and-trade, Uncle Honey… What, I already wrote about all those things? OK, how about what you wrote on what I wrote to […]
One of the worst meals of my life occurred on a stormy June evening in the early 1980s at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel. The main course that night was a stringy, tasteless filet of me that my bosses at Successful Farming magazine served up to an unhappy advertiser, Allis Chalmers. The sin that put me on […]
It was more a wavering non-waiver than another government oldie-but-goodie, a non-denial denial. Still, nothing in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dec. 1 delay to grant the ethanol industry’s request to boost the current 10 percent ethanol limit in gasoline to 15 percent suggested it won’t happen — and soon. “It is vitally important that the […]
If you asked unimpeachable sources such as St. Peter or former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee why so many pretty average people often choose journalism for a career over, say, rocket science or particle physics, the simple, one-word answer you’ll likely get is “mathematics.” Please understand, we journalists do arithmetic reasonably well — addition, division, […]
Longtime readers may recall a Thanksgiving column years ago that featured a dinner entree provided by Orlie, the gainfully unemployed younger brother of our farm’s two hired men, Jackie and Howard. How did we end up with three brothers, all bachelors, living together in a provided house on the farm along with their widowed mother? […]
If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, idle thoughts are, what, the product of a devil’s advocate? Maybe, but one election result from early November leaves plenty of room for thought, idle or otherwise. On Nov. 3, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved Issue 2, a statehouse-directed ballot initiative to create a “Livestock Care Standards Board.” The […]
The final Saturday in October swept me three hours south for lunch with my parents and nearly-new grandniece and, later that Halloween afternoon, backwards about 40 years for visits with some ghosts on the farm of my youth. It began as an afternoon drive from my parents’ home in town to the Bottoms, that black […]
Almost before her first cup of government coffee cooled, Christine Varney, the antitrust chief at the U.S. Department of Justice since April 20, tossed the Bush Administration’s antitrust guidelines — described as toothless — out the window. New collusion cop There’s a new collusion cop in town, she explained May 9, and DOJ’s “Antitrust Division […]