Latest from Alan

The “Con” in Econometric

While American farmers and ranchers were eyeball-deep in spring planting and first-hay cutting, their commodity groups and federal government were knee-deep in narrowly-focused studies filled with meaningless numbers and unchallenged econometric puffery. For example, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and U.S. Grains Council (USGC) released a privately “commissioned” report May 24 that proclaimed the […]

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Let’s Dance

Since late last summer, Big Seed’s big players have looked more like anxious high school kids hoping to pair off for the senior prom than international businesses investing in new products and markets. The first to go courting was St. Louis-based Monsanto. Last August it offered nearly $46 billion for its Swiss classmate, Syngenta, only […]

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Trade Deals Going Nowhere

As the politics of this election year heat up, the chances of Congress debating—let alone passing—either of the White House’s marque trade deals continue to melt away. Oh, there’s plenty of talk about the westward-looking Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Euro-centered Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TPP and TTIP, respectively. Most of the yakking, however, […]

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We Should Talk

With little fanfare and barely a nod of public acknowledgement, the world of food turned upside down April 13 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture informed a Penn State University plant pathologist that the “white button mushroom” he developed by removing some of its genetic material is not a genetically modified organism (GMO). As such, […]

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Checkoffs Go Dark

Big Ag’s control of the non-refundable, federally-chartered Research & Promotion programs—more commonly known as commodity checkoffs—reached new heights April 19 when the House Appropriations Committee approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $21.3 billion 2017 budget. Tucked 34 pages into the pending bill’s 217 pages of bureaucratic thatch was this thorn: Since “commodity Research and Promotion […]

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