U.S. History

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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Surprise! (Not)

The recent history of the third most powerful constitutional office in the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is so checkered that you have to seriously examine the background of anyone who seeks it.
For example, in June 1989, Texan Jim Wright, who had been Speaker for two years and change, resigned when […]

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Diversity and Resilience versus Corn and Soybeans

By car, Quebec City, Quebec, is 1,840 miles from Bismarck, ND. I know because in the last two months I have seen every mile of highway between North Dakota’s state capital on the Missouri to Quebec’s provincial capital on the St. Lawrence.
Interestingly, as you drive west to east across arguably some of the New World’s […]

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No Immigrants, No Food

To hear most of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates tell it, the nation’s biggest problem is illegal immigration.
That’s right; it’s not the incendiary Middle East, the ever-on-edge global financial markets, ballooning overpopulation, rapid climate change, or terrorism either here or abroad. It’s illegal immigration.
It’s so bad, shouts poll-climbing billionaire Donald Trump, that the only solution […]

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Idaho’s “Ag Gag” Bagged

In a relatively short, toughly-worded decision issued Aug. 3, a federal judge in Idaho struck down that state’s year-old “ag gag” law that sought to “criminalize” undercover, or whistleblower, investigations of livestock facilities suspected of animal abuse.
The action by B. Lynn Winmill, chief judge of Idaho’s U.S. District Court, is the first time any “ag […]

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