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Farm and Food File Results

Take it to the non-bank bank

Thursday, December 10, 2009

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 […]

While I can’t do math, I can read

Thursday, December 3, 2009

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, […]

Remember me? Of course I do, Orlie

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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? […]

One devil’s advocate thoughts

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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 […]

Only the land lasts forever

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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 […]

Antitrust chief, others moving ahead

Thursday, November 5, 2009

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 […]

More Astroturf on global warming war

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If the generals and admirals within the concentric walls of the Pentagon — hardly a bastion of greenie weenies — view global warming as a “serious threat to national security,” exactly who does the American Farm Bureau Federation view as the enemy in its latest Astroturf war against climate change legislation? For its part, the […]

Don’t know much ’bout economics

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In the transition from farm boy to student to journalist, I skated and stumbled through several academic departments at the Big U. For example, at the height of Watergate scandal in the early 1970s, I studied political science. A visit home during fall harvest that year, however, cured me of that silliness; I missed the […]

The truth about rock-and-roll

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the sunny, first Sunday of October, Willie Nelson, 76; Neil Young, 63; John Mellencamp, three days shy of 58, and Dave Matthews, 42, brought their Farm Aid road show, now 24, to west St. Louis. Having interviewed the three Farm Aid founders at the inaugural 1985 concert in Champaign, Ill., (Matthews joined the effort […]

We knew cold on our southern Ill. farm

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The distant hickory trees sport golden crowns and the neighbor’s white oak has begun to flash hints of scarlet when the wind rustles its leaves. The slow, colorful drift into winter has begun; the wheels of nature are turning. The wheels of harvest, however, are not. September is gone but nearly every acre of still-green […]

The film The Informant is not funny

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The two, almost-funny moments in The Informant!, Hollywood’s comedic treatment of the deadly serious, 1995 price fixing scandal at Archer Daniels Midland, failed to amuse the 60 or so viewers sharing the theater with the lovely Catherine and me Sept. 20. Both passed with nary an audible laugh, guffaw or snort. That’s funny because each […]

The father of the Green Revolution

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If pushed to guess, I suspect that few of the lengthy, laudatory obituaries published the week after his Sept. 12 death would have pleased Norman E. Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy turned hunger fighter. Borlaug, after all, wasn’t into flowers or flowery words. He was a plain-spoken, dirt-on-the-shoes plant breeder whose semi-dwarf and rust-resistant wheat […]

Accumulated numbers we love

Thursday, September 17, 2009

As many Eastern Cornbelt farmers nervously estimate just how many frost-free days (weeks?) they’ll yet need to bin an almost certain to-be-late harvest, it’s time for me to sweep my bins — or at least this 150 foot-square office — of some numbers that have accumulated over the summer. For example, agriculture has a huge […]

Sleeping with the fishes

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If mega-biz is to be believed, the new antitrust chief in the Obama Department of Justice, Christine A. Varney, is really a hurricane whose chief ambition is to demolish the very foundations of modern American business. If the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, Varney’s first public comments on antitrust, offered in May 12 […]

The company you keep says it all

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In the long, expensive battle fought by U.S. farmers to make corn-based ethanol the premier alternative fuel in America, few Washington influence peddlers fought harder and spent more in opposition to it than the American Petroleum Institute. In fact, you name the biofuel issue and API and its fat checkbook made it into a bare-knuckle […]

The GIPSA watchdog better bite

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who is J. Dudley Butler and why are meatpackers and their allies saying nasty things about the courtly, 61-year-old from Yazoo County, Miss.? The short answer is that Butler is the new administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). That makes him the watchdog over Big Meat and […]

Uncle Honey was all thumbs

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A morning thunderstorm ripped through my rural farmette recently and in its wake I found a front yard peppered with green walnuts, a sky bluer than the Pacific and memories as warm as the August afternoon that threatened. On the big dairy farm of my youth, everyone — my two older brothers and I, my […]

Cap and trade: Show me the money

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One of the basic rules of my incredibly successful one-dog, two-ink pen operation is that if the government wants to give some of my tax money back, I take it. Depreciation? Thank you. Double declining balance, three-backflips depreciation? Thank you very much. That simple principle, however, was trampled July 22 when a Senate Ag Committee […]

Farm news that happened while you weren’t watching …

Thursday, July 30, 2009

With the summer already two-thirds over and the dog days of August about to seep in, I’ll bet you didn’t notice that… About the time troubled New York lender CIT Group started coughing up blood two weeks ago, a trustee for one of its former clients, Meadowbrook Farms Cooperative, was alerting a federal bankruptcy judge […]

Dairymen crying over spilled milk prices

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maybe this is what Willie and Waylon were thinking when they warned American “mommas” to not let their “babies to grow up to be cowboys:” Anyone with a dairy cow this year will lose, on average, $70 per month feeding and milking it; more if the cow is also packin’ debt. Losing big That means, […]

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