U.S. History

If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

Truth, civility, and honesty took a hard beating in the brutal 2016 election season but global trade, the campaign’s daily whipping boy, actually grew in the July-September quarter.
Moreover, reports the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an international group that tracks trade, the late summer surge means global trade “may rise over the year […]

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Dwayne Andreas, The FBI, and Me

Dwayne Orville Andreas, the pocket hurricane that built a sleepy soybean processor, Archer Daniels Midland Co., into a global giant, died Wednesday, Nov. 16, in a Decatur, IL hospital. He was 98.
Andreas’s career was as long and profitable as it was remarkable and jaded. Just last week someone again asked me if it was true […]

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Here We Are

To more than a few Americans, the phrase “President-elect Donald Trump” is as incomprehensible as “World Champion Chicago Cubs.”
Worse, these deniers only deepen their denial on being told (and retold) that, yes, the Cubs won the Series and, in fact, Donald Trump was elected president Nov. 8. These inconsolables continue to take Trump’s victory as […]

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Elections Come and Go; We Stay

The cold, gray drizzle of November finally found central Illinois on Election Day. No one complained, however, because the warm, dry harvest season had ended weeks before.
Fifty or more years ago, that was never the case on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. In fact, if we were half-done with harvest on Election […]

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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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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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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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