From the Column

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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Who Knew…

… that Bill Gates, the Harvard drop-out who co-founded Microsoft, owns 8.4 percent of Deere & Co., worth about $2.5 billion and “at least 100,000 acres of farmland in California, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and other states” that includes a 490-acre Wyoming ranch once owned by William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Gates also holds a stake (oh […]

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Slouching Toward Election Day

There are facts on which the world operates and there are facts on which politics operate. Spoiler alert: the two are not the same. For example, key Republicans in both the U.S. House and Senate have fought every effort this year to allow Congress a vote to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an […]

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So Choose

This summer delivered many significant, round-numbered anniversaries. For example, June 6 was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Aug. 1 the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, August 9 the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, and Aug. 12 the 200th anniversary of the British burning the U.S. Capitol. […]

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Change on the Wind

The early morning wind rises with the sun from the east. Where I live, an east wind blows change. There’s a meteorological explanation for this, of course, but long before there was meteorology or meteorologists the east wind blew change. The wind (it’s not a breeze) rattles the two black walnut trees in the far […]

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Say What?

Farmers and ranchers have a well-deserved reputation for straight talk. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say, after all, were essential elements in the handshake deals that were the hallmark of rural business for generations. They still are. Now, however, some folks outside the nation’s fields and fences are working overtime to wash—and, […]

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OMG GMOs

Screenshot at Sep 09 20-39-47

The cool summer heated up mid-month when a longstanding war of words re-ignited with three little matches labeled “GMO.” That this fire still burns hot 20 years after the introduction of GM crops is testament to both the public’s continuing unease about putting something known as “genetically modified organisms” in their mouths and the immense […]

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800 Million People Can’t Be Wrong, Right?

Anti Corruption Rally, Dehli

When 800 million of anything moves in the same direction at the same time, the world changes. In mid-May the 800 million voters in the world’s largest democracy, India, rejected the long-in-power Congress Party for the BJP, the Bharatya Janata Party, led by Narendra Modi, described by the Indian press as a ‘business-friendly” job creator. […]

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You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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Herman Melville was a pretty good fiction writer but his 1851 whale of a tale—something about a big fish and a peg-legged man named Ahab—was, in fact, based on the true story of the American whaling ship Essex that, in 1820, was attacked and sunk by a huge whale in the south Pacific. I’m sorry, […]

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