Farm Policy

New Ports or Old Bulls

In fat times and lean alike, farmers and ranchers know they have to spend money to make money. A worn-out combine, like a worn-out bull, is too costly to keep—even if you have to borrow the money to replace it.
That’s the way it works with our nation, too; we need to continually invest in its […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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, […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

“Oh, I Believe in Yesterday”

Across the centuries, Great Britain has given the world many things uniquely British—the Puritans, Andrew Carnegie, The Beatles and, as we Americans again celebrate this Fourth of July, the United States.
On June 23, it gave the world another significant gift: a big step into the dark abyss of a go-it-alone future in today’s ever-globalizing world.
Sure, […]

Read More

Like a Good Neighbor

It’s hard to think of summer without thinking of the many neighbors we shared the southern Illinois heat, humidity, and mosquitoes with on the dairy farm of my youth.
Back then, in the mid-1960s, we’d often see neighbors across the table-flat Mississippi River Bottoms as they cultivated corn or soybeans and we baled straw or raked […]

Read More

Brexit: “Taking Farmers for Fools”

With electronic ignition, fuel injection and more computing power than the space shuttle, today’s cars and trucks never backfire. Our politicians—with less horsepower and far less memory—often still do.
The latest may be British Prime Minister David Cameron who, during his 2015 reelection campaign, promised British voters a referendum on whether the United Kingdom (UK) should […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More