U.S. History

A Stiff-Necked People

The message from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Outlook Forum in late February was pretty clear: In 2016, we will again grow more farm goods—and, in some cases, far more—than the U.S. and world markets can profitably use.
In case you missed the number-fest, permit me to highlight the low lights of this year’s presentations.
–Barring an […]

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This is What “Feed the World” Looks Like Today

As American agriculture grinds through February’s dull weather and even duller commodity markets, two Chinese firms have used the month to make inroads into the American farm and food colossus.
First, on Feb. 3, China National Chemical Corp., known as ChemChina, announced its purchase of Syngenta, the Swiss-based chemical and seed giant, for the equivalent of […]

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February (And the Coming Apocalypse?) In Sight

Despite claims to the opposite, the increasing chances of Donald—“You’re fired!”—Trump changing to “I, Donald—do solemnly swear—Trump” is not a sign of the coming apocalypse.
Granted, the end could be closer than we think when any billionaire steps off his Boeing 757 airliner and declares, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot […]

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Sure, That’ll Work

There was a mirrored symmetry to the news last week that reflects badly—but not unfairly—on American agriculture.
On Jan. 18, Farm Futures Magazine released its updated presidential surveys among farmers for both the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and the overall United States. The clear leaders among farmers who said they’d vote GOP in either Republican contest were […]

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Farm Policy By Fiat

It’s hard, messy work to make U.S. farm and food policy. It’s even harder and messier if anyone in Congress actually proposes policy, actually holds hearings to examine that policy, actually debates and, then, actually votes on how it might affect every farmer, rancher, and eater in the country.
Easier by far is to sneak any […]

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CRISPR’s Children

About the only one ever happy to see a mosquito is a hungry purple martin, the acrobatic swallow that dines on the bothersome insects morning, noon, and night. You and me, however, would be perfectly happy never to see another mosquito for the rest of our lives.
Science can now make that happen.
A powerful new gene-editing […]

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Never Heard of CRISPR? You will.

Few sectors of the global economy are more hooked on gene modification technology than agriculture. Food powerhouses like the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina now grow genetically modified (GM) crops on 40, 23, and 13 percent, respectively, of their arable land and one in five farmable acres around the world grows GM crops.
Adoption of GM seeds […]

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Who’s The Boss?

In the world of agricultural cooperatives there’s none bigger than Minnesota-based CHS Inc. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the energy, grain, food, and farm supply giant did $42.9 billion in business in its fiscal year 2014.
That makes the mighty CHS bigger than Deere & Co., DuPont, and Tyson Foods, and far bigger than […]

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Hi, My Name is America and I’m a Reductionist

Most Americans like things simple because, well, life is just simpler that way. We like our choices even more simple—up or down, baked or fried, boxers or briefs—because we believe simple choices shorten the odds of mistaken choices.
Our friends in ivory towers disagree. Reductionism—their big word for making problems small—actually increases the odds of making […]

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Tweet, Tweet

The tweeting heard by U.S. farmers and ranchers this fall isn’t that loquacious social media birdie Twitter. Instead, it’s canaries—coal mine canaries, to be exact—and their song is neither short nor sweet.
In fact, it’s downright dour. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, this year’s 36 percent fall in net farm income is the biggest […]

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