From the Column

Groundhog Day, Again and Again

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, Christmas in the windshield, and given the glacial pace of key policy decisions awaiting resolution in Washington, D.C., it’s just another Groundhog Day out here in rural America. Those decisions, after two years of heavy duty do-nothingness, are coming slower than the deadlines faced by this Congress and the […]

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All Right Already, Fix It

If you ran your farm or ranch like the White House and Congress run the federal government, your corn would never get planted and your cows would be long gone. Of course, if you ran your farm or ranch anywhere near the level of—what?— the scornful divisiveness and almost pure reactionary politics that now guide […]

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Quantitative Spinning

Against all odds, economics, the dismal science, has become even more dismal. Since the Great Recession of 2008, what once was equal parts science and art is now equal parts politics and disdain. What I mean is that nearly every economic report and analysis now comes freighted with political spin and partisan derision. Economic numbers—jobs, […]

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Roberts Reboots and Other Coincidences

While Republicans, Democrats and Independents voted nationwide Nov. 4, coincidence, irony and “Huh?” were the big winners Nov. 5. For example, nationally, according to early numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, candidates spent $3.7 billion on 2014 elections, the most in U.S. history, to get Americans to vote for them. (Links to source […]

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Bring It On

Fall’s first frost, usually a mid-October event in my adopted central Illinois, waited until the last possible monthly moment—deep into Halloween night—to finally show winter’s white face. We didn’t so much see it coming as feel it coming. A stern northwest wind arrived before sun-up that day and built into a gale by noon. It […]

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The Endless Politics of GMOs

It’s tough being a genetically modified organism in election season because no election passes without someone or some state slamming you for being, well, you. This election is no different. Voters in Oregon and Colorado are in the home stretch of multi-million-dollar ballot fights to decide if you will be identified and labeled in and […]

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2014 Farm Bill: “Immense Bundle of Subsidies”

In a series of toughly-worded articles published in Choices, the quarterly journal of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), nearly every major element of the 2014 Farm Bill—from its expanded crop insurance program to its impact on global trade negotiations—comes under fire as either “perverse,” “false,” “vacuous,” “absurd,” “failing,” or “wasteful.” The seven articles, […]

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Confused? We’re Not!

All right, listen up! We’ve got a lot to sort out here and little time to do it. First off, sure, you’re confused. Hey, your neighbor is confused. Your uncle’s confused. Your dog’s confused. Fact is, everyone’s confused. But we’ve been confused worse than this before and we all managed to somehow find our way […]

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Want Reform? First, Audit.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stunned the cowboy crowd Tues., Sept. 30, when, in a one-sided meeting in his office, he told seven members of the nearly three-years-old beef checkoff reform effort that if they didn’t find common ground soon he might impose a second beef checkoff that would double the annual, non-refundable collections of […]

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The Price of Access? $1.2 Billion

What did individuals and political action committees believe they were buying when, according to Sept. 30 totals compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), they contributed $755.1 million this election cycle to Republican and Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and $415.2 million to Republican and Democratic candidates to the U.S. Senate? The answer […]

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