Farm Policy

“Done Reading Your Rubbish”

Six months may have passed since readers last got their say in this space but nothing during that time has mellowed their views of this effort, the words they use to explain those views, and some of their more colorful suggestions on where they think I should store my ink pens.
For example, a March column […]

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Too Many Cooks

Toques, the starched, stovepipe hats worn by chefs, are crowned with 100 tiny pleats that, explain the French, represent the 100 ways to prepare an egg every cook must master before earning the title “Chef” and a much-prized toque.
Recent action by President Donald J. Trump and his administration suggest there must also be 100 ways […]

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If It’s Not Broken…

Farmers and ranchers are a resourceful lot. Their widespread reputation for fixing almost anything anywhere—often with little more than baling wire and spit—is well-earned and greatly admired.
One thing these masters of the mechanical don’t do, however, is fix what isn’t broken. No farmer or rancher wastes either sweat or bubble gum on tires that aren’t […]

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You’re Getting Warmer…

In a White House Rose Garden ceremony June 1, President Donald J. Trump announced he would pull the U.S. from the Paris treaty on global climate change. It was a matter of national sovereignty, explained Trump.
Or, as he colorfully noted, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
True, but he was elected […]

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Trump’s Butcher Shop

Donald Trump may want to “Make America Great Again” but his proposed 2018 budget contains no plans to make rural America or the nation’s less fortunate great again.
In fact, according to the Trump Administration’s budget blueprint, American farmers, ranchers, and down-on-their-luck citizens must achieve greatness with trillions less in government support so it and Congress […]

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The Artlessness of the Deal

What Trump Administration appointees lack in reticence they make up for in certitude. Take Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Just two weeks after being shown his stately office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) South Building, Perdue announced a major makeover of it: he invoked a 2014 Farm Bill directive to create a new USDA […]

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Pass the Biscuits and the Buck

Leave it to the language experts at England’s Oxford Dictionaries to come up with a two-word “Word of the Year” for 2016.
That (those) word(s) is (are) “post-truth.”
Post-truth, explain the Oxford experts, is “defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and […]

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Sonny’s Big Adventure

Those Wisconsin dairy cows at the center of another trade kettle now boiling between the United States and Canada, a friend suggests, aren’t really black-and-white Holsteins.
They’re tiny, yellow canaries, he opines, and their tweets—not President Donald J. Trump’s—are a warning that America’s reign as the world’s ag export superpower is fading and U.S. farmers and […]

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Courting Courage

On April 10, Art Cullen of the Storm Lake (IA) Times was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing. His work, explained the Pulitzer board, “fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing… successfully challenged the powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.”
Challenged, yes; beat ‘em, no.
Cullen, who co-owns the tiny, twice-weekly Times (circulation: […]

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Big Salaries, Big Loans, Big Questions

If you want to get the attention of the $240-billion Farm Credit System (FCS), just mention the $725-million loan CoBank, a System lender, made to Verizon in 2013 to help finance Verizon’s $130-billion buyout of Vodafone, a European telecommunications giant.
The far-from-the-farm loan incensed commercial bankers, the System’s largest competitors, who howled to Congress about CoBank’s […]

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