Farm Bill

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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This is What “Feed the World” Looks Like Today

As American agriculture grinds through February’s dull weather and even duller commodity markets, two Chinese firms have used the month to make inroads into the American farm and food colossus.
First, on Feb. 3, China National Chemical Corp., known as ChemChina, announced its purchase of Syngenta, the Swiss-based chemical and seed giant, for the equivalent of […]

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CRISPR’s Children

About the only one ever happy to see a mosquito is a hungry purple martin, the acrobatic swallow that dines on the bothersome insects morning, noon, and night. You and me, however, would be perfectly happy never to see another mosquito for the rest of our lives.
Science can now make that happen.
A powerful new gene-editing […]

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Crop Insurance Goes Global

It was the legislative equivalent of pulling an elephant out of a hat as the stage curtain was about to fall.
The day before the House of Representatives voted 266-167 to approve a long-sought, two-year federal spending deal, House and Senate ag committee members complained that the proposed deal—unseen and unaudited—contained an eight-year, $3-billion cut to […]

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Tweet, Tweet

The tweeting heard by U.S. farmers and ranchers this fall isn’t that loquacious social media birdie Twitter. Instead, it’s canaries—coal mine canaries, to be exact—and their song is neither short nor sweet.
In fact, it’s downright dour. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, this year’s 36 percent fall in net farm income is the biggest […]

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Free Trade’s Cheap Talk

Most U.S. farm and commodity groups aren’t clear on the exact elements of the just agreed-upon Trans-Pacific Partnership. That lack of understanding, though, hasn’t stopped any from praising this “new, high-standard trade agreement that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses.”
For example, our good friends at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association say […]

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Surprise! (Not)

The recent history of the third most powerful constitutional office in the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is so checkered that you have to seriously examine the background of anyone who seeks it.
For example, in June 1989, Texan Jim Wright, who had been Speaker for two years and change, resigned when […]

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Diversity and Resilience versus Corn and Soybeans

By car, Quebec City, Quebec, is 1,840 miles from Bismarck, ND. I know because in the last two months I have seen every mile of highway between North Dakota’s state capital on the Missouri to Quebec’s provincial capital on the St. Lawrence.
Interestingly, as you drive west to east across arguably some of the New World’s […]

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Idaho’s “Ag Gag” Bagged

In a relatively short, toughly-worded decision issued Aug. 3, a federal judge in Idaho struck down that state’s year-old “ag gag” law that sought to “criminalize” undercover, or whistleblower, investigations of livestock facilities suspected of animal abuse.
The action by B. Lynn Winmill, chief judge of Idaho’s U.S. District Court, is the first time any “ag […]

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“What Makes You an Expert?”

“I just read your column,” noted an Illinois critic of an early May piece that outlined a proposed, multi-billion dollar merger between the key players in the prepared foods sector.
“I have just one question,” the emailer went on, “what makes you an expert in the Sysco attempt to buy US Foods?”
Ah, blessed readers; they are […]

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