Special Interests

The Death of Mr. Clayton

History doesn’t note the first instance of price fixing or monopoly but it’s a safe bet all were around long before Moses and the “Thou shall not steal” commandment.
History does record when the U.S. Congress acted to prohibit monopoly and antitrust in business; first, in 1890, with the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act and, […]

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Touching the Electric Fence

American humorist Will Rogers once noted that he “wasn’t a member of any organized political party” because “I am a Democrat.” The crack is dead-on funny because it’s bulls-eye true. Just ask any Democrat.
Ag Republicans on Capitol Hill, however, are working feverishly to take the title from Rogers’ Dems. Earlier this month, festering differences between […]

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Just the Facts Ma’am

As this space has often noted, facts, figures, and data are as essential to journalism as verbs, nouns, and dangling participles. In fact, journalism without facts is a cup of tea without tea.
We also understand that erudite farm and food conversationalists—like you, for instance—are often on the prowl for convincing evidence and fresh facts to […]

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“I Know What I Know”

Members of Congress are finally getting around to reading the Farm Bill they approved late this winter after three years of gum bumping, chest beating, and finger pointing. Their big discovery so far?
Many now are shocked (shocked! I say) that the money they thought they had saved in food stamps and commodity programs won’t be […]

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Safe, Not Sorry

Almost everyone in American agriculture, from farmers to ranchers to the top executives of the biggest transnational grain trading and meatpacking firms, loves to say the United States is home to the cheapest, safest food supply in the world.
Of course, the global commodity slingers love cheap. It’s the yeast that makes their dough rise because, […]

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Read It and Pay

On Jan. 5, 2011, www.gop.gov, the website for the “House Republican Majority,” trumpeted news that its members had acted on their “promise” to “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.”
The […]

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The Least of Your Problems

Early February was not a good time to be an American carnivore.
First, on Saturday, Feb. 8, Rancho Feeding Co. of Petaluma, CA, announced it was recalling 8.7 million pounds of beef carcasses and cuts. That’s virtually every pound of the company’s 2013 throughput.
The reason for the recall, explained the Feb. 11 Los Angeles Times, was […]

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you’re an ag-dependent advertising agency, a commodity organization hired hand, or an ag journalist who can’t do math, commodity checkoffs are a gift that just keeps on giving.
The most recent checkoff gift comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. On Jan. 31, the OIG released a 29-page report on […]

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How’d you like a buggy whip?

Henry Ford heard the jeers for years before his horseless carriage remade culture forever. Orville and Wilbur Wright were called bird brains before their dreams carried them over a North Carolina sand dune and mankind to distant galaxies.
They had thousands of predecessors. Archimedes was thought to have a screw loose. The Vatican saw Galileo as […]

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Fixed bayonets

So just what was Congress, and especially, the U.S. House of Representatives, doing when it entered the final week of its high-speed game of chicken with the White House and three out of four Americans who said loudly and clearly that they did not want a government shutdown?
One part of the answer, the political part, […]

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