Big Ag

Sonny’s Big Adventure

Those Wisconsin dairy cows at the center of another trade kettle now boiling between the United States and Canada, a friend suggests, aren’t really black-and-white Holsteins.
They’re tiny, yellow canaries, he opines, and their tweets—not President Donald J. Trump’s—are a warning that America’s reign as the world’s ag export superpower is fading and U.S. farmers and […]

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The Numbers Aren’t Adding Up

According to numbers compiled and published by Agri-Pulse, the Washington, D.C.-based ag news service, the top bosses at ag-centered commodity groups and federally-chartered checkoff agencies had far better recent years than the farmers and ranchers they claim to serve.
For example, Agri-Pulse’s annual compensation report published last September noted that Steve Censky, chief executive officer of […]

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Courting Courage

On April 10, Art Cullen of the Storm Lake (IA) Times was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing. His work, explained the Pulitzer board, “fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing… successfully challenged the powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.”
Challenged, yes; beat ‘em, no.
Cullen, who co-owns the tiny, twice-weekly Times (circulation: […]

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There Goes the Neighborhood

Farmers and ranchers pride themselves on neighborliness, and rightly so. Rare is the season, after all, when the local newspaper or radio station doesn’t carry a lump-in-the-throat story explaining how neighbors of an ill or injured member of a farm or ranch family gathered for a day or two to do a month or two’s […]

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Big Salaries, Big Loans, Big Questions

If you want to get the attention of the $240-billion Farm Credit System (FCS), just mention the $725-million loan CoBank, a System lender, made to Verizon in 2013 to help finance Verizon’s $130-billion buyout of Vodafone, a European telecommunications giant.
The far-from-the-farm loan incensed commercial bankers, the System’s largest competitors, who howled to Congress about CoBank’s […]

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By the Numbers

Before spring arrives and our attention turns to blue sky, dancing daffodils, and why the corn planter’s GPS isn’t working, let’s take a few minutes to lock in key numbers that will dominate the still-young farm and ranch year.
For example, as of Wednesday, March 8, Congress has 66 legislative days remaining until its lengthy August […]

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As Ag Swoons, Farm Credit System Booms

On Feb. 28, the agriculture subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee held a “Farm Credit Administration [FCA] Oversight Hearing.”
Remarkably, it was the first public questioning of FCA leaders—and how they regulate the nation’s biggest agricultural lender, the $240-billion Farm Credit System (FCS)—by the subcommittee in 19 years.
In the intervening, unchecked decades, System […]

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New Boss, Same Brawls

The Trump Administration’s turtle-slow start with the Republican-led Congress bodes ill for what it and Republicans said would be a busy legislative year. Tax reform, replacing Obamacare, raising the debt ceiling, and a 2018 budget all await initial action.
The GOP chairmen of the House and Senate ag committees, however, aren’t waiting on any White House […]

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Promises Made, Promises Kept

Of all the words used to describe President Donald J. Trump during his first days in office—bold, boastful, alternative facts—here are two that almost no person or pundit uttered: promise keeper.
Love him or loathe him, Trump took no time in checking off key items from his unconventional campaign’s list of unconventional promises.
Toss out the Trans-Pacific […]

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Sunny and Chair

The chairman gaveled the Ag Committee to order.
“We’re here today,” he announced in his best radio voice, “to rapidly confirm our President’s nominee for secretary of agriculture. He is, like most us, self-made, rich, manly—”
“Mr. Chairman!” interrupted a female voice from the far side of the horseshoe-shaped dais. “What are you talking—”
The sharp rap of […]

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