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Promises Made, Promises Kept

Of all the words used to describe President Donald J. Trump during his first days in office—bold, boastful, alternative facts—here are two that almost no person or pundit uttered: promise keeper.
Love him or loathe him, Trump took no time in checking off key items from his unconventional campaign’s list of unconventional promises.
Toss out the Trans-Pacific […]

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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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The “Con” in Econometric

While American farmers and ranchers were eyeball-deep in spring planting and first-hay cutting, their commodity groups and federal government were knee-deep in narrowly-focused studies filled with meaningless numbers and unchallenged econometric puffery.
For example, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and U.S. Grains Council (USGC) released a privately “commissioned” report May 24 that proclaimed the 2014 […]

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Trade Deals Going Nowhere

As the politics of this election year heat up, the chances of Congress debating—let alone passing—either of the White House’s marque trade deals continue to melt away.
Oh, there’s plenty of talk about the westward-looking Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Euro-centered Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TPP and TTIP, respectively. Most of the yakking, however, flows […]

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For Sale: Cheap Bull

Despite the bile pouring out the nation’s capital, there still are three daily events in Washington, D.C. that every American can count on: sunrise, sunset, and U.S. farm groups’ unwavering support for “free” trade.
In fact, most U.S. farm and commodity groups support free trade so reflexively that nearly every one gave the just-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership […]

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Free Trade! Free Lunch!

We in agriculture talk about free trade agreements as if they are the international equivalent of a free lunch. All we need is a trade deal, we preach, and a full belly—easy profit—is an almost certainty.
This lovely belief, of course, overlooks the absolute certainty that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone […]

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Free Trade’s Cheap Talk

Most U.S. farm and commodity groups aren’t clear on the exact elements of the just agreed-upon Trans-Pacific Partnership. That lack of understanding, though, hasn’t stopped any from praising this “new, high-standard trade agreement that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses.”
For example, our good friends at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association say […]

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Birds of a Feather

While my family never subsisted on the deer, doves, quail, ducks, and geese that shared the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth with us, we did enjoy a noon meal of rabbit or squirrel several times a year.
It wasn’t until I became a journalist, however, that I tasted crow.
Yes, crow. You know, the big […]

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Got Guts? Bet on TPP

Let’s go out on a small limb and make a big prediction: Not only will the U.S. Senate vote to give this president and the next one fast track trade authority, so too will the U.S. House of Representatives.
Moreover, and since we’re already on the limb, here are two more predictions: First, both the House […]

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