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Rising Woe in Rural America

The gap between America’s rural poor and non-poor, like in urban America, continues to widen. The difference in rural America, however, is that the gap is widening faster than in any of the nation’s grittiest cities or suburban counties.
That’s the conclusion of two recent reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University […]

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Willful Ignorance

Michael Lewis is a serious writer with a list of serious bona fides: Princeton bachelor’s degree, master’s from the London School of Economics, a stint on Wall Street and author of best-selling, non-fiction books like Money Ball, The Big Short, and The Blind Side. All were Hollywood box office hits. He also writes for the […]

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Lazy Dogs

A joke bouncing around the ag grapevine shines more light on where rural America’s politics are than where its funny bone actually is. The abridged version goes like this:
My dog sleeps 20 hours out of 24, eats free food prepared for him every day, gets free medical care, free housing, and never cleans up any […]

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A Plan or An Obit

Five hundred years ago this week, a German theologian nailed a sheet of 95 statements, or theses, to a church door in Saxony in hopes of starting a debate to reform the church he loved. But Martin Luther’s hammer didn’t spur debate; it sparked a wildfire that changed the world.
That’s the thing about reformers; once […]

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Let Me Translate

No one you know says “grain” when they mean “soybeans” or “John Deere” when they mean “tractor.”
Of course, you might get away with these vague and misleading substitutes when talking to the non-farming public because most people don’t know soybeans are an oilseed, not a grain, and that Deere & Co. makes a lot more […]

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Rules for Fools

During my first days of Lutheran grade school, I was surprised to learn that the world had only 10 rules. Sure, eight of them ordered what I “shalt not” do and just two told me what I must do. Still, no Lutheran worth his catechism ever had a problem with a negative four-to-one ratio.
But then […]

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If It’s Not Broken…

Farmers and ranchers are a resourceful lot. Their widespread reputation for fixing almost anything anywhere—often with little more than baling wire and spit—is well-earned and greatly admired.
One thing these masters of the mechanical don’t do, however, is fix what isn’t broken. No farmer or rancher wastes either sweat or bubble gum on tires that aren’t […]

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You’re Getting Warmer…

In a White House Rose Garden ceremony June 1, President Donald J. Trump announced he would pull the U.S. from the Paris treaty on global climate change. It was a matter of national sovereignty, explained Trump.
Or, as he colorfully noted, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
True, but he was elected […]

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Trump’s Butcher Shop

Donald Trump may want to “Make America Great Again” but his proposed 2018 budget contains no plans to make rural America or the nation’s less fortunate great again.
In fact, according to the Trump Administration’s budget blueprint, American farmers, ranchers, and down-on-their-luck citizens must achieve greatness with trillions less in government support so it and Congress […]

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The Artlessness of the Deal

What Trump Administration appointees lack in reticence they make up for in certitude. Take Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Just two weeks after being shown his stately office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) South Building, Perdue announced a major makeover of it: he invoked a 2014 Farm Bill directive to create a new USDA […]

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