From the Column

“Oh, I Believe in Yesterday”

Across the centuries, Great Britain has given the world many things uniquely British—the Puritans, Andrew Carnegie, The Beatles and, as we Americans again celebrate this Fourth of July, the United States. On June 23, it gave the world another significant gift: a big step into the dark abyss of a go-it-alone future in today’s ever-globalizing […]

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Like a Good Neighbor

It’s hard to think of summer without thinking of the many neighbors we shared the southern Illinois heat, humidity, and mosquitoes with on the dairy farm of my youth. Back then, in the mid-1960s, we’d often see neighbors across the table-flat Mississippi River Bottoms as they cultivated corn or soybeans and we baled straw or […]

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Brexit: “Taking Farmers for Fools”

With electronic ignition, fuel injection and more computing power than the space shuttle, today’s cars and trucks never backfire. Our politicians—with less horsepower and far less memory—often still do. The latest may be British Prime Minister David Cameron who, during his 2015 reelection campaign, promised British voters a referendum on whether the United Kingdom (UK) […]

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A Good Life at “Home”

Night has day, up has down, and Hugh Grant has Gene Logsdon. Monsanto’s Hugh Grant, as almost everyone in Big Ag knows, is chairman and CEO of the world’s premier agricultural seed company now hotly pursued by German chemical giant Bayer AG. Writer and journalist Gene Logsdon, as almost no one in Big Ag knows, […]

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The “Con” in Econometric

While American farmers and ranchers were eyeball-deep in spring planting and first-hay cutting, their commodity groups and federal government were knee-deep in narrowly-focused studies filled with meaningless numbers and unchallenged econometric puffery. For example, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and U.S. Grains Council (USGC) released a privately “commissioned” report May 24 that proclaimed the […]

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Let’s Dance

Since late last summer, Big Seed’s big players have looked more like anxious high school kids hoping to pair off for the senior prom than international businesses investing in new products and markets. The first to go courting was St. Louis-based Monsanto. Last August it offered nearly $46 billion for its Swiss classmate, Syngenta, only […]

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Trade Deals Going Nowhere

As the politics of this election year heat up, the chances of Congress debating—let alone passing—either of the White House’s marque trade deals continue to melt away. Oh, there’s plenty of talk about the westward-looking Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Euro-centered Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TPP and TTIP, respectively. Most of the yakking, however, […]

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We Should Talk

With little fanfare and barely a nod of public acknowledgement, the world of food turned upside down April 13 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture informed a Penn State University plant pathologist that the “white button mushroom” he developed by removing some of its genetic material is not a genetically modified organism (GMO). As such, […]

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Checkoffs Go Dark

Big Ag’s control of the non-refundable, federally-chartered Research & Promotion programs—more commonly known as commodity checkoffs—reached new heights April 19 when the House Appropriations Committee approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $21.3 billion 2017 budget. Tucked 34 pages into the pending bill’s 217 pages of bureaucratic thatch was this thorn: Since “commodity Research and Promotion […]

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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 […]

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