Latest from Alan

Sure, That’ll Work

There was a mirrored symmetry to the news last week that reflects badly—but not unfairly—on American agriculture. On Jan. 18, Farm Futures Magazine released its updated presidential surveys among farmers for both the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and the overall United States. The clear leaders among farmers who said they’d vote GOP in either Republican contest […]

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China Sees Woe, U.S. Ag Sees Red

The fireworks-filled, holiday celebration that is the Chinese New Year doesn’t begin until Feb. 8. Three weeks into calendar year 2016, however, key elements in China’s economy—its wildly speculative stock markets, less-than-transparent currency, sagging heavy industries—have gone boom. That weakness is already being felt in U.S. farm and ranch country. Rural America, after all, is […]

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The Quiet Month

January was a quiet month on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. Maybe it was quiet because we were quiet, drained after December’s month-long buildup to Christmas and New Year’s. Maybe it was quiet because most of our farm machines, like all of our fields, were quiet. Whatever the reason, January still brought […]

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Farm Policy By Fiat

It’s hard, messy work to make U.S. farm and food policy. It’s even harder and messier if anyone in Congress actually proposes policy, actually holds hearings to examine that policy, actually debates and, then, actually votes on how it might affect every farmer, rancher, and eater in the country. Easier by far is to sneak […]

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Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving

Originally written on December 25, 1994, this column is now reprinted annually by Alan’s editors across the country to celebrate the season of giving. The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered our farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby woodstove. […]

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