Finance

“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, […]

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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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Let’s Dance

Since late last summer, Big Seed’s big players have looked more like anxious high school kids hoping to pair off for the senior prom than international businesses investing in new products and markets.
The first to go courting was St. Louis-based Monsanto. Last August it offered nearly $46 billion for its Swiss classmate, Syngenta, only to […]

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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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A Stiff-Necked People

The message from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Outlook Forum in late February was pretty clear: In 2016, we will again grow more farm goods—and, in some cases, far more—than the U.S. and world markets can profitably use.
In case you missed the number-fest, permit me to highlight the low lights of this year’s presentations.
–Barring an […]

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For Sale: Cheap Bull

Despite the bile pouring out the nation’s capital, there still are three daily events in Washington, D.C. that every American can count on: sunrise, sunset, and U.S. farm groups’ unwavering support for “free” trade.
In fact, most U.S. farm and commodity groups support free trade so reflexively that nearly every one gave the just-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership […]

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Free Trade! Free Lunch!

We in agriculture talk about free trade agreements as if they are the international equivalent of a free lunch. All we need is a trade deal, we preach, and a full belly—easy profit—is an almost certainty.
This lovely belief, of course, overlooks the absolute certainty that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone […]

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February (And the Coming Apocalypse?) In Sight

Despite claims to the opposite, the increasing chances of Donald—“You’re fired!”—Trump changing to “I, Donald—do solemnly swear—Trump” is not a sign of the coming apocalypse.
Granted, the end could be closer than we think when any billionaire steps off his Boeing 757 airliner and declares, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot […]

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China Sees Woe, U.S. Ag Sees Red

The fireworks-filled, holiday celebration that is the Chinese New Year doesn’t begin until Feb. 8. Three weeks into calendar year 2016, however, key elements in China’s economy—its wildly speculative stock markets, less-than-transparent currency, sagging heavy industries—have gone boom.
That weakness is already being felt in U.S. farm and ranch country. Rural America, after all, is China’s […]

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Who’s The Boss?

In the world of agricultural cooperatives there’s none bigger than Minnesota-based CHS Inc. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the energy, grain, food, and farm supply giant did $42.9 billion in business in its fiscal year 2014.
That makes the mighty CHS bigger than Deere & Co., DuPont, and Tyson Foods, and far bigger than […]

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