Big Ag

It’s a Big Country and It Floats on Less and Less Water

From 35,000 feet, the white ring that marks the high level of Lake Powell looks just like the ring of an emptying bathtub. The only difference is the chalky top mark on this big tub, once the second largest freshwater reservoir in the U.S., is an unscrubble 1,900 miles around.

And Lake Powell, the upper reservoir […]

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Don’t Be a Chicken–Literally

Caution: This is a chicken-and-egg story.

Late this winter, as our Covid pandemic was waning, many bird species–and especially chickens–were suffering their own terrible pandemic, the spread of “highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI),” noted, FERN, the Food & Environmental Reporting Network May 31.

How terrible? Since January, 38 million chickens have died in the U.S. either because […]

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‘I have said we have to see some results!’

It’s no surprise that the nation’s five largest meatpackers, according to a May 12 government report, “engaged in a concerted effort with Trump Administration political officials to insulate themselves from coronavirus-related oversight.”

After all, the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis (the Committee), the body charged with oversight of government’s response to the pandemic, released […]

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First steps in ag climate fight are honesty and courage, not offsets and credits

Last May, the Canadian farm group National Farmers Union (NFU), submitted a detailed response to the Canadian government’s earlier “Draft Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations.” The response, like the government request, went relatively unnoticed in U.S. ag circles.

It shouldn’t have because the 23-page reply by the 200,000-member NFU was as shocking in its brevity […]

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‘I used to say FDA stood for foot-dragging artists”

FDA is, of course, government shorthand for the Food and Drug Administration or, as Helena Bottemiller Evich makes crystal clear in a deeply-sourced, richly detailed April 8 exposé, the Food and Drug Administration.

The emphasis is required, explains Bottemiller Evich, a senior editor and ag reporter at Politico, because “a monthslong… investigation” found “that regulating food […]

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Big Food Makes Big Ag Look Like a Piker

If you think Big Ag has too few suppliers, too few buyers, and too few farmers and ranchers, you need to meet Big Food. It is big-time big.

Who is Big Food?

That straightforward question was tackled by academics, journalists, and legal professionals in a day-long conference on March 12, titled “Reforming America’s Retail Food Markets,” at […]

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Global Food Chains Face More Uncertainty, More Instability

For the second time in two years, a history-making calamity has shown just how fragile the world’s efficiency-driven, deeply interdependent food system is.

Two years ago, a rampaging pandemic threatened America’s pantries. Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens supplies of key ag inputs like fuel and fertilizer while causing deep disruptions to global wheat, corn, and […]

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Big Ethanol Sees Electric Cars as a Market Maker, Not Market Taker

One of modern agriculture’s most beloved offspring, ethanol, received a sharp reprimand Feb. 13 from Iowa’s largest newspaper, The Des Moines Register.

In an editorial titled “Ethanol has been a boon for Iowa’s economy. But it’s time to pivot and figure out what’s next,” The Register chided Iowa Republicans and Democrats alike for supporting ethanol-pushing programs […]

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Keep Moving, Nothing to See Here

No one was shocked recently when the General Accountability Office (GAO) announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had overpaid farmers billions of dollars during the slapdash tariff-mitigation scheme ordered by the Trump White House in 2018 and 2019.

A couple of billion bucks in government waste is, evidently, chump change when–as in the case of […]

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Goodbye 2021’s High Profits, Hello 2022’s High Costs

It always seems odd to use the final week or two of the current year as a platform to view the coming year. How does looking in the rearview mirror give anyone a clear sense of what’s ahead?

That certainly was the case for most ag markets a year ago. For example, almost no one last […]

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