Special Interests

Close the Barn Door

One of the oldest truisms in agriculture is the simple, rock-solid advice that the time to close the barn door is before the cows get out. Closing the door afterwards, as everyone knows, is pointless because the cows are already long gone.
Everyone, except of course, the U.S. Congress which, on Sept. 20, hosted a Senate […]

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Burning Down the Barn

If the prospect of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as president scares you, put down the television remote and pick up “Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity,” a new report from the United Nations Environmental Program. It makes the dour debaters look positively sunny.
OK, sure, the report’s title suggests it will be as dull […]

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There’s No “Future” In the Futures Market

As the food industry continues to consolidate into fewer, bigger players, the price risk it once hedged in Chicago and New York futures markets is being pushed back onto the very farmers and ranchers it buys from.
The reason is simple: the Big Boys have the market power to do it.
After decades of Big Ag’s talk […]

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The Last Free Trader in America

Can trade—free, fair, or otherwise—get some love this election season?
Fat chance.
In fact, the only national politician four-square in favor of global trade and its latest multi-nation deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is no one anyone could have seen in that role: Barack Obama.
Holy cow, what’s next; the Chicago Cubs in the World Series?
Perhaps, and […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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No Trade? No Kidding.

You know it’s a presidential election year when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues late summer press releases where nearly half the ink touts the Obama’s Administration’s past ag successes even as it announces actual news.
On Aug. 1 USDA issued just such a press release; 315 of its 635 words bragged about the White […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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