Big Ag

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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An Allegory and A True Story

The allegory:
Not long ago, a man named Jim was in business with his brother Bob. Jim was the hardworking, money-making side of the firm; Bob was the always smiling, money-spending side.
And, sure, Jim knew the arrangement was lopsided but he loved and trusted Bob and Bob was Jim’s greatest admirer and biggest promoter.
The business did […]

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Major Farm Groups to Trump: Adopt GIPSA Rules

For almost a month now, we’ve watched what DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton calls “the visceral political fight” over three changes to livestock marketing rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA.
“Visceral” is a fitting word to describe Big Meat’s reaction to the Dec. 14 rules […]

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Hard Numbers and Hard Politics

The calendar may have changed but the numbers all U.S. farmers will work with this new year are little different from the numbers everyone worked with last year.
For example, 2016’s corn production was baked-in last fall and so too are most of 2017’s options. We grew a staggering 15.3 billion bu. last year, will use […]

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If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

Truth, civility, and honesty took a hard beating in the brutal 2016 election season but global trade, the campaign’s daily whipping boy, actually grew in the July-September quarter.
Moreover, reports the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an international group that tracks trade, the late summer surge means global trade “may rise over the year […]

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Dwayne Andreas, The FBI, and Me

Dwayne Orville Andreas, the pocket hurricane that built a sleepy soybean processor, Archer Daniels Midland Co., into a global giant, died Wednesday, Nov. 16, in a Decatur, IL hospital. He was 98.
Andreas’s career was as long and profitable as it was remarkable and jaded. Just last week someone again asked me if it was true […]

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“You’re Wrong” Is the Wrong Message

When most of us hear the words “Have I got a great deal for you!” we grab our wallets because experience suggests any forthcoming deal won’t be great.
Similarly, when someone says, “Here’s the straight talk,” our baloney meters redline because we know the coming talk will be about as straight as a hound’s hind leg.
We […]

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We Feed the World Is “Not a Harmless Myth”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is using this harvest season to solidify its reputation as the biggest not-for-profit policy organization American farmers love to hate.
The hatred took root in 1995 when EWG published—on something called the Internet—a 10-year, searchable database of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) payments to all American farm entities. Farmers, especially the […]

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Livestock’s Bleak, Industrial Future

The more the American meat and milk sectors industrialize—via integrated contract production, fewer bigger players, machine-centered scale—the more these key parts of American agriculture resemble industry itself: commoditized products, razor-thin margins, and extended periods of steep losses.
This shift from what we once quaintly called animal husbandry has also shifted economic and political power to a […]

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Vote Like It’s 2018

As this year’s harvest and general election roll into October, key Capitol Hill farm policy players are looking past both events to stake out negotiating territory in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill fight.
It’s not too soon. The Congress elected next month will rewrite the every-five-year law that divvies up $100 billion a year on federal […]

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