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Farm and Food File Results

Global markets: High speed crazies

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If it’s a bad idea to play with matches, it’s an even worse idea to play with a blowtorch in a fireworks factory. And yet that’s just what farmers and ranchers do every time they price their cattle, corn, cotton and other commodities in global markets dominated by “high frequency trading,” trading driven by computers […]

Organic by another name: Science

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In most public policy debates, everyone favors “science” until science begins to favor one side over the other. When that occurs, science, suddenly, isn’t so hallowed and name-calling soon takes over. Rare, however, is the instance when an apparent winner in a science face-off uses so much name-calling during a victory lap that the intended […]

Autumn’s splendor restores my soul

Friday, October 12, 2012

Somehow a notice went out a week ago to all the blue jays in Illinois that the acorns on (what I think is) a shingle oak outside my office were ripe for the picking. Within hours, a dozen or more jays appeared in the tree’s top branches to pluck, shuck and consume the soft fruit […]

The farm bill gamble could be costly

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A long, bitter year in the long, bitter Congressional session drifted into the campaign season with the U.S. House of Representatives unable or unwilling to butter the softest piece of legislative toast before them, the 2012 Farm Bill. Speaker of the House John Boehner attempted to telegraph that likely outcome two months ago as Congress […]

All the news they want to print

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born American media titan, is having one tough year on both sides of the Atlantic. On the Old World side, several of his British newspaper editors have been disgraced, arrested or fired for an alleged phone-hacking scheme that reached into royal palaces and political offices. The mess cost Murdoch his empire’s crown […]

Having a beef with Ohio’s checkoff, where cattle will vote … sort of

Thursday, September 20, 2012

According to Chicago legend, a tombstone somewhere in the city reads: “John Smith, Born 1934, Died 1981, Voted 1984, 1988, 1992.” What makes the joke funny, of course, is its resemblance to the truth. Chicago’s well-deserved reputation for election shenanigans is just that — well deserved. Despite that legacy, cattle cannot vote in either Chicago […]

Having a beef with Ohio’s checkoff, where cattle will vote … sort of

Thursday, September 20, 2012

According to Chicago legend, a tombstone somewhere in the city reads: “John Smith, Born 1934, Died 1981, Voted 1984, 1988, 1992″. What makes the joke funny, of course, is its resemblance to the truth. Chicago’s well-deserved reputation for election shenanigans is just that, well deserved. Despite that legacy, cattle cannot vote in either Chicago or […]

Some days are meant to last forever

Friday, September 14, 2012

Someone — my great-grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, someone — told me how fathers announced the upcoming wedding of their daughters more than a century ago in the small, southern Illinois farming community where I was raised. The story goes like this: After a wedding date was set, the bride’s father saddled his finest horse […]

Numbers, what they really mean?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Since figures backstop fact, numbers are the meat and potatoes and forks and knives of journalism. They are, in a word, beautiful, and, like true beauty, they can take your breath away. For example, in the faint light of early Aug. 10, my daily newspaper reported that Tom Laughlin would mark his 81st birthday that […]

Sorting lies, distortions and lawsuits

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Somewhere along the line, it became acceptable to bend and break the record of public figures and firms without any consequence whatsoever. Shortly thereafter, distortion and deception replaced discussion and debate and yelling and lying replaced compromise and progress. And that’s just in agriculture; in politics, it’s even worse. The latest farm and food fight […]

‘All these numbers’ tell a story now

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In modern political campaigns it’s a given that opponents will attack each others’ ideas, misrepresent each others’ record and, metaphorically, make every attempt to rip each others’ ugly face off. Since this vitriol is expected, little of it finds traction. It’s “politics as usual” and, as usual, it rarely changes minds, votes or outcomes. A […]

Take it from Uncle Honey, take a nap once and a while

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One part of every day on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was inviolate: the noon nap; nearly everyone took one. We didn’t rest very long, just 30 minutes or so, because the farm work never rested long. The naps, however, were as integral a part of our farm routine as the big […]

What will kick Congress into gear?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Alan Guebert takes Washington to task on the 2012 Farm Bill.

Be wary of the banksters in Washington

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On July 17, the U.S. Senate pulled off a Half Ginsburg by convening three Capitol Hill hearings on why the crooks and crackpots in charge of global finance find it ridiculously easy to make suckers out of you and me and Swiss cheese out of American laws. William Ginsburg, you may recall, represented Monica Lewinsky […]

Can’t duck crop insurance disaster

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Many on Capitol Hill are quick to point out that “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.” What they never add is that this little blinding glimpse of the obvious has never stopped legislative quackery in the past and it’s not stopping it now. Drought impact For example, […]

Readers know how to write, too

Friday, July 13, 2012

On an early morning bicycle ride I roll past a massive red combine slumbering at the end of a freshly barbered wheat field.<

‘Free markets’ really aren’t free

Thursday, July 5, 2012

If there’s no such thing as a free lunch — and there isn’t: even the United States Department of Agriculture’s “free” National School Lunch Program cost $10.8 billion in fiscal year 2010 — then it stands to reason that the free market might not be entirely free either. Financial markets For example, to ensure that […]

A golden goose for chicken feed

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Every week for 19 years this 170 square-foot, two-dog, one-person office has declared its complete devotion to numbers. For example, just last week we found it completely fascinating that in just three days this month 100 U.S. senators offered 302 amendments to an ag committee-approved 2012 farm bill that already ran more than 1,000 pages. […]

Bigger programs, bigger boondoggles

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In mid-June, the best guessers on Capitol Hill handicapped a probable 2012 Farm bill this way: either the Senate passes its version by the Fourth of July to push the House to act by late summer or no farm law will pass until after the November general election. That either-or view takes in a lot […]

Some hot numbers in cold times

Thursday, June 14, 2012

As the world stumbles toward a summer of financial winter, one part of the American economy continues its merry, five-year waltz: U.S. ag exports are forecast to reach $134.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012. Estimate That estimate, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture May 31, is $3.5 billion higher than USDA’s February guess and […]

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