From the Column

They Never Stopped Making It

Forty-five years ago, anyone hoping to be someone in American agriculture was offered the same, free advice: “Buy land; they’re not making it anymore.” But “they” were making it. In fact, lots and lots of it. According to data reported by the United Nations, the world’s farmable land base grew by about 240 million acres […]

Read More

Change Ain’t Grilled Cheese

According to the website Nationalcalendarday.com, April 12 was National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, National Licorice Day, National Equal Pay Day, National Library Workers Day, and National Big Wind Day. None of these “national” days are national. They are made up, mostly by groups or causes seeking free publicity. That’s true even for that wonderfully Washington, […]

Read More

The Ethanol Trap

March did not go out like either a lion or a lamb. In fact, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Prospective Plantings Report midday March 31, the month—as well as the 2016 corn market—highballed it into history faster than a runaway train. The coal was USDA’s forecast that farmers intend to plant 93.6 […]

Read More

Free Markets Work, When We Let ‘Em

There is a certain poetry in Sen. Pat Roberts’, R-KS, failure to convince the U.S. Senate to squash state and local food labeling laws. His proposed fix, fail though it did, may have done more to boost consumer faith in the market than anything Congress has or hasn’t done in years. Roberts’ winning loss began […]

Read More

Cuban Junket Summer

America’s counter-culture had its Summer of Love in 1969 and baseball its Home Run Summer in 1998. U.S. farm and checkoff groups will have their Cuban Junket Summer in 2016. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack guaranteed it when, on March 21, he gave the green light to “22 industry-funded Research and Promotion Programs”—federally-chartered commodity […]

Read More

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

What most American voters don’t know about plate tectonics would kill a bull. Still, something deep in the North American continent and the American consciousness has shifted to alter our adopted land and its political landscape. For example, the Ides of March brought both the 2,060th anniversary of Caesar’s assassination in the Roman Forum and […]

Read More

My Best Friend

On a sparkling blue Friday afternoon in October 1965, I stepped off a noisy school bus with my best friend, Marvin, to walk the long lane to his family’s farm. It was my first, non-family trip anywhere and I was so excited to go to Marvin’s house for the weekend that I doubt my feet […]

Read More

A Stiff-Necked People

The message from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Outlook Forum in late February was pretty clear: In 2016, we will again grow more farm goods—and, in some cases, far more—than the U.S. and world markets can profitably use. In case you missed the number-fest, permit me to highlight the low lights of this year’s presentations. […]

Read More

For Sale: Cheap Bull

Despite the bile pouring out the nation’s capital, there still are three daily events in Washington, D.C. that every American can count on: sunrise, sunset, and U.S. farm groups’ unwavering support for “free” trade. In fact, most U.S. farm and commodity groups support free trade so reflexively that nearly every one gave the just-completed Trans-Pacific […]

Read More

Dirty Secrets, Dirty Water

frost-247624_1280-980x600

It’s been a quick year since the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) sued the boards of supervisors of three, ag-based Iowa counties over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. It has not, however, been a quiet year. The lawsuit against 10 drainage districts in Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun counties, explains the DMWW, is […]

Read More