From the Column

The Auctioneer’s Song

For someone who rarely attended auctions, my father somehow managed to host or co-host four different auctions in the last 20 or so years of his long life. Is that a record of some kind?
The first, held in the mid-1990s, was a dispersal sale for the 100 or so Holstein cows, heifers, and calves that […]

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March Madness

If only Julius Caesar had listened to the soothsayer who, in plain Latin, warned him, “Beware of the Ides of March.” Instead, the powerful, arrogant Roman tweeted, er, complained, “He is a Dreamer, let us leave him.”
And leave Caesar did—forever—on the Ides of March 44 B.C.
Someone should have given American farmers, ranchers, and rural residents […]

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Big Salaries, Big Loans, Big Questions

If you want to get the attention of the $240-billion Farm Credit System (FCS), just mention the $725-million loan CoBank, a System lender, made to Verizon in 2013 to help finance Verizon’s $130-billion buyout of Vodafone, a European telecommunications giant.
The far-from-the-farm loan incensed commercial bankers, the System’s largest competitors, who howled to Congress about CoBank’s […]

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By the Numbers

Before spring arrives and our attention turns to blue sky, dancing daffodils, and why the corn planter’s GPS isn’t working, let’s take a few minutes to lock in key numbers that will dominate the still-young farm and ranch year.
For example, as of Wednesday, March 8, Congress has 66 legislative days remaining until its lengthy August […]

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As Ag Swoons, Farm Credit System Booms

On Feb. 28, the agriculture subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee held a “Farm Credit Administration [FCA] Oversight Hearing.”
Remarkably, it was the first public questioning of FCA leaders—and how they regulate the nation’s biggest agricultural lender, the $240-billion Farm Credit System (FCS)—by the subcommittee in 19 years.
In the intervening, unchecked decades, System […]

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New Boss, Same Brawls

The Trump Administration’s turtle-slow start with the Republican-led Congress bodes ill for what it and Republicans said would be a busy legislative year. Tax reform, replacing Obamacare, raising the debt ceiling, and a 2018 budget all await initial action.
The GOP chairmen of the House and Senate ag committees, however, aren’t waiting on any White House […]

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Obamacare Repeal, Rural Health, and You

After years of angry opposition, fiery speeches, and showy, going-nowhere votes, Congressional Republicans finally clenched their angry, shaking hands on the throat of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—as the Senate, then the House, voted to repeal the 2010 law one week before Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president.
Well, that’s the alternative reality of what […]

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Winter’s Workings

January started gray, stayed gray, and ended gray. Worse, it wasn’t a shining silver gray or an inviting blue gray. It was the flat, disengaging gray of used dishwater that seemed to whisper, “Don’t bother.”
The one-colored weather wasn’t cold weather, though. Early in the month, a few days of Arctic temperatures did thicken the lake […]

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Promises Made, Promises Kept

Of all the words used to describe President Donald J. Trump during his first days in office—bold, boastful, alternative facts—here are two that almost no person or pundit uttered: promise keeper.
Love him or loathe him, Trump took no time in checking off key items from his unconventional campaign’s list of unconventional promises.
Toss out the Trans-Pacific […]

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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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