Farm Bill

“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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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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Vote Like It’s 2018

As this year’s harvest and general election roll into October, key Capitol Hill farm policy players are looking past both events to stake out negotiating territory in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill fight.
It’s not too soon. The Congress elected next month will rewrite the every-five-year law that divvies up $100 billion a year on federal […]

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Failure Isn’t Success

The most positive news about the most negative presidential campaign in modern history is that, in 80 or so days, we can forget to remember it.
Or should that read “remember to forget it”?
It’s hard to get the words right when it’s so easy for our political actors to get them wrong. In their hands and […]

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For the Record

It’s tough being a politician in today’s Big Data Age because something you said—or didn’t say—15 or 20 years ago pops up every 15 or 20 minutes on a database someplace between Terra Haute and Tierra del Fuego.
Take the Republican vice presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.
Before the-then presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, […]

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They Never Stopped Making It

Forty-five years ago, anyone hoping to be someone in American agriculture was offered the same, free advice: “Buy land; they’re not making it anymore.”
But “they” were making it. In fact, lots and lots of it.
According to data reported by the United Nations, the world’s farmable land base grew by about 240 million acres between 1971 […]

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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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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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