Congress

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 2014 […]

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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, flows […]

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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 boards”—USDA-appointed […]

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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, D.C.-sounding […]

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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 million […]

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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 with […]

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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 checkoffs—and […]

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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.
–Barring an […]

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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 Partnership […]

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Dirty Secrets, Dirty Water

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 over […]

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