Big Ag

Big Meat’s Next Fat Hog

Two of the world’s biggest meatpackers, Tyson Foods and JBS SA, are in a bare-knuckled, checkbook throw-down over who will own Hillshire Brands, the Chicago-based maker of branded processed meats and packaged food.
Which ever firm wins this brawl will matter less to Tyson and JBS than to you or me because it will enable one […]

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The Death of Mr. Clayton

History doesn’t note the first instance of price fixing or monopoly but it’s a safe bet all were around long before Moses and the “Thou shall not steal” commandment.
History does record when the U.S. Congress acted to prohibit monopoly and antitrust in business; first, in 1890, with the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act and, […]

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Touching the Electric Fence

American humorist Will Rogers once noted that he “wasn’t a member of any organized political party” because “I am a Democrat.” The crack is dead-on funny because it’s bulls-eye true. Just ask any Democrat.
Ag Republicans on Capitol Hill, however, are working feverishly to take the title from Rogers’ Dems. Earlier this month, festering differences between […]

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Feeding 9 Billion

Just before this weekly effort began 21 years ago this month, its two founders, the lovely Catherine and me, compiled a list of nearly 30 words we thought its title could include. Two words, however, shouted to be in every permutation of every possible title: farm and food.
The point of farming was—is—food so any comment, […]

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And the Moral Is…

If you’re a regular reader of the American agricultural press you already know that the three greatest threats to U.S. farmers and ranchers are the chicken-chasing, nut-eating vegans at PETA, HSUS, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
I know–you were thinking drought, flood and low prices, right?
Nope. When the apocalypse arrives, according to we in the ag media, […]

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Safe, Not Sorry

Almost everyone in American agriculture, from farmers to ranchers to the top executives of the biggest transnational grain trading and meatpacking firms, loves to say the United States is home to the cheapest, safest food supply in the world.
Of course, the global commodity slingers love cheap. It’s the yeast that makes their dough rise because, […]

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Punching Russia’s Breadbasket

When Vladimir Putin sent his nation’s armed, but unmarked troops into sovereign territory of Ukraine, he became the latest in a long line of Russian Little Big Men to punch Eurasia’s famed breadbasket in the gut.
First came the imperial czars, then the revolutionary Bolsheviks and, right behind them and most brutally, Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
And […]

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The Least of Your Problems

Early February was not a good time to be an American carnivore.
First, on Saturday, Feb. 8, Rancho Feeding Co. of Petaluma, CA, announced it was recalling 8.7 million pounds of beef carcasses and cuts. That’s virtually every pound of the company’s 2013 throughput.
The reason for the recall, explained the Feb. 11 Los Angeles Times, was […]

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Ag’s New Math

It might be a new year but the old year’s weaknesses persist.
For example, I still try to type the word “separate” with one “a,” still can’t walk past a display of cherry licorice without buying some, and still can’t do high-end math like, say, division.
Part of that latter weakness goes back to the 1960s when […]

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The triumph of dumb

Somewhere along his long, winding way from Delaware to Indiana to Washington D.C., Bart Chilton picked up a desire for public service, a view that government should serve the powerful and powerless alike and a trusted way to bring people together to write straightforward, fair public policy.
Appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, Chilton […]

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