Big Ag

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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Close the Barn Door

One of the oldest truisms in agriculture is the simple, rock-solid advice that the time to close the barn door is before the cows get out. Closing the door afterwards, as everyone knows, is pointless because the cows are already long gone.
Everyone, except of course, the U.S. Congress which, on Sept. 20, hosted a Senate […]

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There’s No “Future” In the Futures Market

As the food industry continues to consolidate into fewer, bigger players, the price risk it once hedged in Chicago and New York futures markets is being pushed back onto the very farmers and ranchers it buys from.
The reason is simple: the Big Boys have the market power to do it.
After decades of Big Ag’s talk […]

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Failure Isn’t Success

The most positive news about the most negative presidential campaign in modern history is that, in 80 or so days, we can forget to remember it.
Or should that read “remember to forget it”?
It’s hard to get the words right when it’s so easy for our political actors to get them wrong. In their hands and […]

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Warbling Bluebirds

The Texas rancher was rehashing his Capitol Hill meeting over a cold beer and a not-much-warmer steak at a swanky restaurant a block or two from the White House.
“It was pretty discouraging,” he said as he sliced into the slab of red rib-eye. “That guy”—his congressman—“had no more idea of what he was talking about […]

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For the Record

It’s tough being a politician in today’s Big Data Age because something you said—or didn’t say—15 or 20 years ago pops up every 15 or 20 minutes on a database someplace between Terra Haute and Tierra del Fuego.
Take the Republican vice presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.
Before the-then presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, […]

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