From the Column

Those Not Around the Table

The scarlet and gold promise of mid-harvest has slipped into the gray, damp reality of early winter. Last month we smiled at sun-kissed crops; this month we smile when we see the sun.
On the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, November was a month more endured than enjoyed. Its most memorable features were muddy […]

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Willful Ignorance

Michael Lewis is a serious writer with a list of serious bona fides: Princeton bachelor’s degree, master’s from the London School of Economics, a stint on Wall Street and author of best-selling, non-fiction books like Money Ball, The Big Short, and The Blind Side. All were Hollywood box office hits. He also writes for the […]

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Lazy Dogs

A joke bouncing around the ag grapevine shines more light on where rural America’s politics are than where its funny bone actually is. The abridged version goes like this:
My dog sleeps 20 hours out of 24, eats free food prepared for him every day, gets free medical care, free housing, and never cleans up any […]

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A Plan or An Obit

Five hundred years ago this week, a German theologian nailed a sheet of 95 statements, or theses, to a church door in Saxony in hopes of starting a debate to reform the church he loved. But Martin Luther’s hammer didn’t spur debate; it sparked a wildfire that changed the world.
That’s the thing about reformers; once […]

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That’s You

If you wanted to renegotiate an aging but working trade treaty with two of your biggest, best customers, you’d think sweet talk and calm persuasion might work better than boorish bombast and shrill demands.
Well, think again because the Trump Administration is now in charge and bombast and demands are standing protocols whether you’re dealing with […]

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Predictably Irrational

When it comes to the artful science of economics, most American farmers and ranchers are classic Ricardians, or followers of David Ricardo, an 18th century English stock trader whose influential book, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, explained what he saw as the market’s guiding lights.
Any ag econ student from the last 150 […]

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Taking a Knee

If the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) current forecasts are even close to being right and the nation’s politicians continue their year-long blood feud, football players won’t be the only ones on their knees in protest.
Indeed, almost every piece of news out of USDA these days arrives wrapped in black crepe. For example:
–U.S. cotton production […]

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Regular Order

For Congressional Republicans, a late winter and early spring of small hiccups turned into a summer of bigger roadblocks. Now, just days into fall, spectacular failure looms.
At the center of all this stumbling is the impossible-to-undo Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate and House Republicans have tried mightily to deliver on their ACA […]

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Picking Up the Tab

In good years and in bad, there’s a lot of money in American food. Regardless of the year, however, less of it flows back to the folks who actually grow the food, American farmers and ranchers.
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that cash paid to American farmers and ranchers this year—for everything […]

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Cat’s Feet

The early morning fog, like poet Carl Sandburg once noted, arrived on cat’s feet and remains, napping, on the lake until a warming sun causes it to slip away the way it came, in silence.
Fifty years ago I watched the September fog while waiting for the morning school bus on the southern Illinois dairy farm […]

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