Special Interests

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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The Numbers Aren’t Adding Up

According to numbers compiled and published by Agri-Pulse, the Washington, D.C.-based ag news service, the top bosses at ag-centered commodity groups and federally-chartered checkoff agencies had far better recent years than the farmers and ranchers they claim to serve.
For example, Agri-Pulse’s annual compensation report published last September noted that Steve Censky, chief executive officer of […]

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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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There Goes the Neighborhood

Farmers and ranchers pride themselves on neighborliness, and rightly so. Rare is the season, after all, when the local newspaper or radio station doesn’t carry a lump-in-the-throat story explaining how neighbors of an ill or injured member of a farm or ranch family gathered for a day or two to do a month or two’s […]

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March Madness

If only Julius Caesar had listened to the soothsayer who, in plain Latin, warned him, “Beware of the Ides of March.” Instead, the powerful, arrogant Roman tweeted, er, complained, “He is a Dreamer, let us leave him.”
And leave Caesar did—forever—on the Ides of March 44 B.C.
Someone should have given American farmers, ranchers, and rural residents […]

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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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By the Numbers

Before spring arrives and our attention turns to blue sky, dancing daffodils, and why the corn planter’s GPS isn’t working, let’s take a few minutes to lock in key numbers that will dominate the still-young farm and ranch year.
For example, as of Wednesday, March 8, Congress has 66 legislative days remaining until its lengthy August […]

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As Ag Swoons, Farm Credit System Booms

On Feb. 28, the agriculture subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee held a “Farm Credit Administration [FCA] Oversight Hearing.”
Remarkably, it was the first public questioning of FCA leaders—and how they regulate the nation’s biggest agricultural lender, the $240-billion Farm Credit System (FCS)—by the subcommittee in 19 years.
In the intervening, unchecked decades, System […]

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New Boss, Same Brawls

The Trump Administration’s turtle-slow start with the Republican-led Congress bodes ill for what it and Republicans said would be a busy legislative year. Tax reform, replacing Obamacare, raising the debt ceiling, and a 2018 budget all await initial action.
The GOP chairmen of the House and Senate ag committees, however, aren’t waiting on any White House […]

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