Big Ag

Let’s Hear It for the Readers, and Writers

At the end of every fiscal year, June 30, and the end of every calendar year, December 31, readers claim this space to offer their views of my views.
Take Mike C. from Texas who, after I wrote a spring column on how climate change will affect food production in 2050, sent a parody of a […]

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Betting Against Climate Change

According to 2013 data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, you and I owe our very existence to water. After all, 92 percent of our blood, 75 percent of our brains and muscles, 60 percent bodies and 22 percent of our bones is plain, simple old water.
Even more to the point, while most of […]

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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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