Latest from Alan

Dirt’s Big Year

Last year may have been a lot of things to a lot of people but one thing it surely wasn’t was predictable. I mean who foresaw last year’s record-setting high in the U.S. stock market, the plunge in global crude oil prices, Russia’s naked grab of Ukraine’s sovereign territory or the Obama Administration’s reaching out […]

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You’re Right, I’m Wrong… Next!

The email got the point as quickly as a working hammer gets to a nail: “Alan—You have got to be kidding me—production agriculture ‘embrace’ the EPA clean water regulations?” it asked not really seeking an answer. The question was sent in reaction to a mid-September column that urged farmers and ranchers to work with the […]

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Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving

Originally published in 1994, “Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving” continues to be the most requested, most reprinted Farm and Food File column. The column inspired The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey which will be published by The University of Illinois Press in May 2015.  The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods […]

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Insuring Elephants

Federally subsidized crop insurance is the elephant in the Farm Bill pantry and anyone who had any role in pushing the law through the zoo called Congress knows it. What most didn’t know, however, was when Big Ag would finally acknowledge its huge appetite and suffocating presence. Enter Mary Kay Thatcher, a long-time, well-respected Washington, […]

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Groundhog Day, Again and Again

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, Christmas in the windshield, and given the glacial pace of key policy decisions awaiting resolution in Washington, D.C., it’s just another Groundhog Day out here in rural America. Those decisions, after two years of heavy duty do-nothingness, are coming slower than the deadlines faced by this Congress and the […]

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