Congress

No Trade? No Kidding.

You know it’s a presidential election year when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues late summer press releases where nearly half the ink touts the Obama’s Administration’s past ag successes even as it announces actual news.
On Aug. 1 USDA issued just such a press release; 315 of its 635 words bragged about the White […]

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Warbling Bluebirds

The Texas rancher was rehashing his Capitol Hill meeting over a cold beer and a not-much-warmer steak at a swanky restaurant a block or two from the White House.
“It was pretty discouraging,” he said as he sliced into the slab of red rib-eye. “That guy”—his congressman—“had no more idea of what he was talking about […]

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The Land of Non

For years we Americans have been perfecting the art of non-action action. It began about a generation ago with the non-apology apology: “If I offended you, I apologize.” Later we moved on to the non-committal commitment: “I’ll be there unless I get a better offer.”
Now, courtesy of Congress, our non-legislating legislature, we might soon be […]

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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 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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