From the Column

An Allegory and A True Story

The allegory:
Not long ago, a man named Jim was in business with his brother Bob. Jim was the hardworking, money-making side of the firm; Bob was the always smiling, money-spending side.
And, sure, Jim knew the arrangement was lopsided but he loved and trusted Bob and Bob was Jim’s greatest admirer and biggest promoter.
The business did […]

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Major Farm Groups to Trump: Adopt GIPSA Rules

For almost a month now, we’ve watched what DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton calls “the visceral political fight” over three changes to livestock marketing rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA.
“Visceral” is a fitting word to describe Big Meat’s reaction to the Dec. 14 rules […]

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Hard Numbers and Hard Politics

The calendar may have changed but the numbers all U.S. farmers will work with this new year are little different from the numbers everyone worked with last year.
For example, 2016’s corn production was baked-in last fall and so too are most of 2017’s options. We grew a staggering 15.3 billion bu. last year, will use […]

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“Mooey Christmas”

As this thinly-priced farm year and deeply bitter election year glides toward its inevitable end, readers continue to pack my email inbox with sugar-coated compliments and napalm-encased invective.
Sometimes this polar divide is showcased by comments on the same column and, sometimes, these warmly complimentary/on-fire angry emails even arrive the same day. This past summer, however, […]

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Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving

Originally written on December 25, 1994, this column is now reprinted annually by Alan’s editors across the country to celebrate the season of giving.
The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered our farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby woodstove. Yellowed […]

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By the Numbers

If it’s all about the numbers, a journalist’s stock-in-trade, what are the numbers telling this journalist as 2016 fades and 2017 rises?
First, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Plowprint Report, issued Nov. 16, “Since 2009, 53 million acres of grasslands—an area the size of Kansas—have been converted to cropland across the Great Plains alone.”
Kansas […]

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If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

Truth, civility, and honesty took a hard beating in the brutal 2016 election season but global trade, the campaign’s daily whipping boy, actually grew in the July-September quarter.
Moreover, reports the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an international group that tracks trade, the late summer surge means global trade “may rise over the year […]

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Dwayne Andreas, The FBI, and Me

Dwayne Orville Andreas, the pocket hurricane that built a sleepy soybean processor, Archer Daniels Midland Co., into a global giant, died Wednesday, Nov. 16, in a Decatur, IL hospital. He was 98.
Andreas’s career was as long and profitable as it was remarkable and jaded. Just last week someone again asked me if it was true […]

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Here We Are

To more than a few Americans, the phrase “President-elect Donald Trump” is as incomprehensible as “World Champion Chicago Cubs.”
Worse, these deniers only deepen their denial on being told (and retold) that, yes, the Cubs won the Series and, in fact, Donald Trump was elected president Nov. 8. These inconsolables continue to take Trump’s victory as […]

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Elections Come and Go; We Stay

The cold, gray drizzle of November finally found central Illinois on Election Day. No one complained, however, because the warm, dry harvest season had ended weeks before.
Fifty or more years ago, that was never the case on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. In fact, if we were half-done with harvest on Election […]

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