U.S. History

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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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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“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 Ethanol Trap

March did not go out like either a lion or a lamb. In fact, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Prospective Plantings Report midday March 31, the month—as well as the 2016 corn market—highballed it into history faster than a runaway train.
The coal was USDA’s forecast that farmers intend to plant 93.6 million […]

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Free Markets Work, When We Let ‘Em

There is a certain poetry in Sen. Pat Roberts’, R-KS, failure to convince the U.S. Senate to squash state and local food labeling laws. His proposed fix, fail though it did, may have done more to boost consumer faith in the market than anything Congress has or hasn’t done in years.
Roberts’ winning loss began with […]

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