From the Column

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Demanding More

After Hurricane Harvey plowed through east Texas with roof-peeling winds and never-before-seen rain, millions of Americans were left not knowing what to do or where to turn.
President Donald J. Trump made two trips to the flattened, flooded region. In his first drop-in, most observers noted, the President failed to cry with any bereaved, comfort any […]

Read More