From the Column

Storm Brewing

As daylight faded, the growing, mid-August thunderstorm chased us eastward across the Kansas plains. In the rearview mirror, it looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz, a rolling mass of perfect fury. Finally, just as we parked under the covered driveway of chain hotel in Russell about 9 pm, the storm caught us […]

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Nature’s Calling; Anyone Listening?

Question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Answer: Neither; both arrived after a qualified veterinarian declared their farm disease-free following a complete depopulation because of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI. It’s no joke. On June 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that […]

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Got Guts? Bet on TPP

Let’s go out on a small limb and make a big prediction: Not only will the U.S. Senate vote to give this president and the next one fast track trade authority, so too will the U.S. House of Representatives. Moreover, and since we’re already on the limb, here are two more predictions: First, both the […]

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American Exceptionalism–Except for What We Grow

In the chaos that surrounded Congress leaving Washington, D.C. for a flag-waving Memorial Day holiday, your House Ag Committee found time May 20 to vote to kill Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL, for beef, pork, and chicken sold in the U.S. If you carnivores out here are keeping score, the Ag Committee vote was […]

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The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey

Two years ago, the 20th anniversary of this weekly effort came and went without notice by its founder, editor, and office cleaning crew. Two months later, that same person finally realized the oversight and, then, promptly forgot it. This mid-May, however, there is a first-ever—most likely, only-time-ever—reminder that 22 years have passed since three daily […]

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Big Food’s Baloney

Sysco Corporation may not be a topic of dinner conversation most evenings anywhere in the U.S. but it is what many Americans are having for dinner—and lunch and breakfast—almost any day everywhere in America. You may not have heard of Sysco, but you’ve seen ‘em. Ever pull up to a local fast or fast casual […]

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Spring Eternal

Spring’s fast run through April all but stopped two weeks ago when an inch of cold, November-like rain took most of a Saturday to fall. A noon survey of the backyard that dreary day showed nothing moving save two Canada geese grazing in the gray drizzle like two Jersey cows in sunlit clover. Another stumble […]

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Kicking the CFTC Can

Confession time: Over the last three years I often have referred to the 113th and 114th Congress as either “do nothing” or “doing less than nothing.” This is wrong because each passing day of continued Congressional nothingness clearly shows House and Senate leaders, then as now, busy as bees planning and implementing detailed action plans […]

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OK, When?

Spring is warmer days, blooming daffodils, and blue horizons. It’s also a good time to tap the season’s new energy and fresh hope to honestly discuss some of farming and food’s most pressing issues. For example, global energy companies now spend more than $500 billion a year exploring for new oil, natural gas, and coal. […]

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Real Rural Development: Local Food

Unlike most farmers and ranchers today, Scott Laeser and Chelsea Chandler can see all their livestock and nearly every acre of their farm from their kitchen’s windows. It’s not an expansive view. The entire farm, nestled in southern Wisconsin’s Driftless region a few crooked miles west of Argyle, is a 77-acre quilt of wetlands, prairie, […]

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