On this Memorial Day, remember Abraham Lincoln’s challenge: “It is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus so nobly advanced.”
Squeeze almost any official of almost any agbiz or farm group and the words “Feed the world” will cross their lips. The phrase is this century’s “Manifest Destiny,” a near-imperative, a cornerstone of our export-directed ag policy. But this ambition, according to the number-crunching crew in Daryll Ray’s ag shop at the University of Tennessee, […]
Politicians are so good at the muddled math of their budget game that they can turn the equation upside down and make it work in reverse: $1 of budget savings today can be legislated into $2 of tax cuts tomorrow.
In a Jan. 27 conference call with Wall Street analysts, the president and CEO of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, the world’s leading supplier of potash, couldn’t offer “an exact number” where potash prices might nick demand.
Farm groups, commodity organizations and most ag checkoffs have spent 25 years and billions dollars refining and repeating their modern message: American agriculture is a business and farmers and ranchers are business people. In the process, cowboys became beef producers and hog farmers became pork producers and a half-million or more of each became no […]
Sure, Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has a 10-year plan to take this country back from the poor, the uninsured, the elderly, the hungry and all the unemployed that threaten to make America a warmer Iceland. But, I ask, does Ryan’s plan go far enough in reining in this earmarked, […]
For 35 years I have returned to Indian Farm, when I can, to replenish what it first gave me as a child.
By law and by USDA’s failure “to restore operational integrity” to the checkoff, NCBA remains the single, biggest benefactor of checkoff cash.
In Congress, the House aggies aren’t exactly tied up with policy debates to address, say, today’s soaring food prices, the nation’s perilously thin food stocks or a dysfunctional federal dairy policy.
Families, careers, whole lives take turns that are completely unpredictable. I mean, one minute you’re looking out the window of your third-floor college dorm room in sleepy boredom and the next minute you can’t breathe because, on the sidewalk below, is the lovely, curly-haired creature you absolutely must meet and marry. Hey, it happens. Then, […]
It’s not the choices you make in the bad times that usually cause you the most trouble. It’s the choices you make in the good times that often lead to the biggest disasters.
As has been noted here before, most journalists get into the writing game because they cannot do math. I don’t mean the hard stuff like differential equations; I mean the incredibly hard stuff like subtraction and division. Math-challenged as we ink blots might be, we are Nobel Laureates compared to the sausage grinders on Capitol […]
On Dec. 20, 17 people from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including Secretary Tom Vilsack, 10 from non-governmental organizations, 10 from seed and food firms and 18 from industry groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Biotech Industry Organization met at USDA to discuss “Alfalfa Production Co-Existence.” The benign title belied what many […]
After hiring into the market newsletter biz 30 years ago, my new bosses informed me that I’d sink or swim on how well I learned either fundamental or technical market analysis. I had two weeks to master one. Since fundamental analysis centers on farm and ranch facts and figures and technical analysis relies on charts […]
Rare is the person, topic or issue that finds the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in unison. In the last two months, however, the voices of the world’s most-respected liberal and most-respected conservative editorial pages sang perfect harmony on one topic, their intense dislike of ethanol, the corn-based […]
When the nearby link of a national grocery chain hosted a beef sale last summer, this carnivore grabbed his checkbook and motored to the store’s meatcase as fast as the Exploder’s worn wheel bearings allowed. They’re Angus At the store I was greeted with a ruby wave of shrink-wrapped beef loins sporting stickers that announced […]
It wouldn’t be a new year without the big players in the $80 million-per-year beef checkoff — the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Federation of Qualified State Beef Councils and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — squaring off over checkoff money, programs and control. And so it is again as members of this tall-walker trinity gather […]
Two fat sparrows sit in the trough of a bird feeder outside my office window and eat their way through today’s snowstorm. Six feet away, a squadron of chickadees does touch-eat-and-goes on a second feeder. In the snow below, a plump dove dines on the sorghum scattered by the unmannered sparrows. As I sip my […]
When Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry and Fred Kirschenmann get together, conversation, laughter and ideas flow. Other than a closeness in age, the three appear to have little in common. Jackson is a Ph.D. plant breeder and founder, in 1976, of The Land Institute, a Salina, Kan., nonprofit dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to food’s uncertain […]
A Dec. 28, 2010, Wall Street Journal story laments the “near-halt” of pork belly trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Bellies were “once among the CME’s most-traded commodities,” but now “the pork belly is in danger of going belly-up.” Indeed, only six belly contracts traded in November 2010. Why? Two chief reasons, say experts cited […]