From the Column

Please, Just Bruce, Not Kingmaker

We will not be attending the “Iowa Agricultural Summit,” March 7 in Des Moines because, oh dear, this is embarrassing, we were not invited. Yes, many non-farming, political types were invited and will be there. Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim […]

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Food Guidelines and Average Old You and Me

No one in farming or ranching buys a bag of seed corn or a couple of young bulls hoping for an average corn crop or an average calf crop. Both buy what each believes will best fit their farm and ranch’s unique circumstances to achieve the best results because average is, well, average. Moreover, since […]

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Past Present, Present Future

As winter’s icy hands again strangle most of the country, I toss another log in the stove and grab the stack of old newspapers, aging magazines, and new books that has grown tall during winter travels. The newspapers take little time. No trick to reading a two-weeks-old daily newspaper: headline… headline… recycling bin. The magazines […]

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Who Wrote This Mess?

The low whimpering and muffled whining heard in farm country this month are not the gripes and grunts of corn and soybean growers trudging through 2015’s purgatory of under-$4 corn and less-than-$10 beans. Instead, it’s the rising complaints of cranky farmers as they trudge out of dull meetings where Land Grant experts and Farm Service […]

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Diverse, Concentrated–Big Ag, New Ag?

The Progressive Farmer magazine’s February issue resembles most mid-winter issues of most U.S. farm magazines. It features stories on how to grow more corn, how to whip soybean aphids, and how to “Drain Water in the Hydraulics.” Interspersed between these tried-and-true farm favorites, however, are three stories that mark just how incredibly diverse our farm […]

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Big Ag’s Weak Hand in Nitrate Fight

For over a year the Des Moines Water Works has been warning every private farmer and public official in Iowa that it would sue anyone or any entity it deemed responsible for the dangerously high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River, a key source of the water it delivers to 500,000 people in and around […]

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The COOL Facts

Country of origin labeling, or COOL, for meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts sold in the U.S. has been kicked around by the courts, politicians, international trade panels and special interest farm groups since it became law in 2008. The only people who haven’t kicked it are American consumers. Polls consistently report that at least 85 […]

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Winter From the Window

January’s week of blistering cold was met with the blissful heat from the farmette’s two efficient woodstoves. Red oak and hickory are, after all, the July and August of wood heat both when you split ‘em and when you burn ‘em. Zero degree cold was not common on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of […]

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Welcome Back, Foodie

We didn’t know it back then but everyone on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was a foodie. Of course there was no one named Bittman or Pollan or Waters to tell us we were foodies but there were people named Mom and Grandma and Aunt Nina whose food knocked your socks […]

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Dirt’s Big Year

Last year may have been a lot of things to a lot of people but one thing it surely wasn’t was predictable. I mean who foresaw last year’s record-setting high in the U.S. stock market, the plunge in global crude oil prices, Russia’s naked grab of Ukraine’s sovereign territory or the Obama Administration’s reaching out […]

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