As corn and soybeans cash prices flutter around their post-harvest highs, a farmer telephones with a question: How do February’s stronger prices compare to 2010 season average prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton? Well, let’s see. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the national average cash price for 2010 corn was $6.38 per […]
A dash of sugar-like snow is almost lost in the brown grass and gray sky out my back door. Winter’s dullness seems to have finally caught February and the weight has slowed it to a cold crawl. Fifty years ago a tablespoon more snow or a teaspoon more ice would have changed a plow horse […]
The lead story on the front page of the Jan. 30 Wall Street Journal reported “that a ‘significant amount’” of an estimated $1.2 billion in customer money that disappeared when investment bank MF Global Holdings Ltd. collapsed “could have ‘vaporized’ as a result of chaotic trading … the week before the company’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing.”
Like the weather, everyone complains about how slanderous politics has become but no one ever does anything about it.
In south Texas, 407 million gallons of water will yield either $200,000 of corn or $2.5 billion of oil and gas. That means there are 12,500 times more reasons to use the water to extract oil and gas than to grow corn and cows.
Most folks are familiar with the Good old boy network, a loose collection of family and friends that can be tapped for personal or business needs. Few, however, know that agriculture has it own network, the good old farmboy network.
It’s hard to see Iowa State University’s key role in a plan by one of its top officials to develop an 800,000-acre farm in Tanzania as anything other than institutional polish to a massive African land deal for politically-connected financial titans. Connections And, yet, there sits ISU, smack in the middle of a geopolitical web […]
Before this 2012 thing gets too far down the road, let’s take a sober second or two to review some of the more inventive ideas from 2011 and see if we can’t make them work in the coming 12 months of political and economic stalemate.
As we slip into the sweet week between Christmas and New Year’s there’s only one task to complete before clearing the desk and brain of all things 2011: readers having the last word in the last column of the year.
A month ago I enjoyed a church dinner in the gymnasium of the grade school I attended 50 years ago. Back then, the gym sparkled with newness because, like the school itself, it was brand new, finished just weeks before I reported to the first grade as an equally new student.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the world has never produced more food, fed more people and, simultaneously, never had so many hungry people.
How do you explain Congress’ public approval rating of only 9 percent and still not one hint of any change in the collective behavior that has made the institution and its members as popular as chickenpox?
As the Sunday, Nov. 20 network news’ yakkers were working hard to fix the blame for the Super Committee’s failed attempts to fix last summer’s failed attempts to fix Congress’s failed attempts to fix the federal budget, 25 or so Americans gathered in a central Illinois church to hear their pastor explain that day’s Gospel, Matthew 25: 31-46.
This Thanksgiving day, like the previous three November holidays, will find the lovely Catherine and me about as far east from the harvested Illinois fields as one can get and still be on American soil. In fact, we’ll be on federal soil, just seven blocks from the U.S. Capitol, at daughter Gracie’s place in Washington, […]
Earlier in the week, USDA acknowledged its role in stacking the deck to favor Big Ag’s new poodle, U.S Farmers & Rancher’s Alliance.
TV talkers and radio ranters briefly bloviated last week on the world’s population topping 7 billion. While 7 billion is a big number it isn’t the biggest part of the population story.
Some serious outdoor carpentry this fall quickly proved, again, the enormous amount of woodworking skills I did not acquire on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. It’s easy to peg the origins of this deficiency: Working with wood on our farm usually meant picking up the remains of a gate or fence that […]
Suggestions on how to change the 2012 farm bill are popping up faster than jack-o’-lanterns. Like this gap-toothed hallmark of Halloween, however, most are hollow, scary and shed little light.
When Chairman Frank Lucas gaveled the full House Ag Committee to order Oct. 12, aggies who depend on commodity futures markets to price their crops, livestock and dreams might have thought the hearing would center on what its title suggested: “To Review Legislative Proposals Amending Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.” The hearing would do no such thing.
Today’s politics are dominated by the inside-out logic that doing nothing is better than doing anything. We even pay dozens in Congress at least $174,000 per year to ensure it