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Farm and Food File Results

Pork is the other red meat

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A lean hog is not a fat chicken but the marketing geniuses hired by the National Pork Board sure sold a lotta’ hams, bacons and butts when, in 1987, they began to promote pork as “The Other White Meat.” Now, 25 years after that brilliant slight of hand, the pork crowd wants to be known […]

More than meals served at the last supper

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The weekly newspaper from my hometown bring news that the small, rural Catholic church near the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth will close its doors next year, a casualty, according to its distant bosses, of too few priests and too many parishes. No planning It’s a judgment day that many of the […]

Potash pullout: From Russia with love

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The July 30 news that Uralkali, the huge Russian potash producer, was pulling out of the global fertilizer cartel might be that nation’s richest gift to American farmers since the Great Grain Robbery in 1972. Unlike the grain-buying deal that carried grain prices to 125-year highs 41 Julys ago, this July’s move will drain potash […]

You know the saying, ‘with friends like these’? How it’s playing in D.C.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

So you think you’re going to get a farm bill by the time the budget brawl breaks out Oct. 1?

Political dysfunction: D.C. haymakers won’t fill the barn this year

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The hay is blooming, the sun is shining and, in the coming month, Congress is bringing its dysfunction to a VFW hall or church basement near you.

Ridin’ the Capitol Hill crazy train

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

After a 10-day cooling off period known as the Fourth of July recess, House and Senate members came back to steamy, hot Washington, D.C. July 9 to do exactly what most Americans expected them to do: Spew more steamy, hot bilge at each other. These folks are, after all, seasoned professionals when it comes to […]

Readers respond to past columns

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twice a year readers who write, telephone or send drone aircraft to my office take over this space to air their gripes, grievances and gratitude. As in the past, gracious letters outnumber the ones soaked in jalapeno sauce. Unlike the past, however, this year’s peppery correspondence contains record levels of heat. A mid-May email from […]

‘Farm and Food File’ celebrates 20 years

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In yet another testament to the careful inattention this office consistently pays to the career of its founding (and, as ever, only) staff member, an anniversary of sorts came and went a month ago with nary a notice, nod or neigh. During the first week of June, 1993, 20 alarmingly fast years ago, this column […]

Please tell me you remember, right??

Thursday, June 27, 2013

If you thought the farm bill fight was bad, you’re gonna hate the coming battle over the reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). You remember the CFTC, right? Futures market regulator It’s the futures market regulator that everyone despises until some brokerage firm takes $700 million from customer accounts a day before it […]

June, farm bill could be another mess

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June meant the end of school, the beginning of summer and the arrival of dairy month.Now, somehow, June has become the Golf Channel’s official Pace of Play Month, LGBT Pride Month (you can look that up) and Farm Bill Month. Little wonder rural folks are cranky; enjoying frosty bowls of vanilla ice cream on the […]

Top 10 reasons to love the China deal

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There’s many reasons to be thrilled about Shuanghui International Holding Inc.’s proposed $4.7 billion purchase of Smithfield Foods, Inc. Here’s only 10…

A closer look at farmland values

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The mild winter affected U.S. farmland values only mildly. Summer, however, may cool ‘em. According to the much-followed Seventh Federal Reserve District quarterly land survey — a poll across 219 ag bankers in Iowa, Michigan, the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin and the northern two-thirds of Illinois and Indiana — first-quarter 2013 land values in the […]

So, where’s my cow insurance?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It was evident from the hello that the South Dakota rancher had practiced his pitch before he dialed my office. “I’m (so and so),” he said in a clipped, clear voice, “an independent cow-calf producer west of the (Missouri) river with 500 cows. I’m calling with one question: Where do I go to sign up […]

Dairy’s dive into the unknown

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It’s one of American agriculture’s best truisms: Only six people in the world understand U.S. dairy policy and none of the six milks cows. It’s not true, of course. Only four people understand U.S. dairy policy. And soon it’s about to get worse. Under the just-passed Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill, two of dairy’s four […]

You’ll know it when you see it

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case Jacobellis v. Ohio, Justice Potter Stewart wrote a concurring opinion he hoped would establish a legal standard that protected every American’s right to free speech yet guarded “community standards” against “hard core pornography.” That competing interest, Stewart wrote, was difficult to balance because it was difficult to define […]

Patience is farming with a faulty planter

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The first good corn planting day of spring finally arrived at my central Illinois farmette April 30. Like the month’s previous 29 days, however, no one within 100 miles used it to plant because near-record rains had washed April away. Late start So now it’s May and it’s late by any corn-planting standard. On the […]

SNAP should be embraced by ag

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two of the greatest ironies of living in the richest, strongest nation in the history of the world are how many poor people remain in 21st century America and how vulnerable — as the Boston bombings showed again — we are to evildoers. The two are not linked. Evil is evil and it has no […]

Cubs and cattlemen: Paying to lose

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicago Cubs baseball fans and American cow-calf ranchers have two things in common. First, they can’t win for losing and, second, they pay heavily for the right to do just that. For example, on April 15, Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, announced plans to update the 99-year-old home of the team, Wrigley Field. The […]

Congress needs less old-boy cronyism

Thursday, April 18, 2013

While Max Baucus and Jon Tester are both Democrats, both U.S. senators and both Montana country boys, last month’s hurried vote to fund nearly $1 trillion of current federal spending shows just how different these Big Sky legislators really are. Baucus, a ranch kid with two degrees from Stanford University, has spent nearly 50 years […]

Springing backward, like the economy

Thursday, April 11, 2013

That lion-in/lamb-out thing about March didn’t offer much lamb this year, but it did deliver several platters of snow. Oh, spring arrived on time; winter just didn’t leave on time. The struggle between seasons finally sorted out during Holy Week. Palm Sunday brought eight inches of snow, howling winds and drifted roads to nowhere. Easter […]

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