Big Ag

Fifth Avenue Cowboys

Maybe it’s a sign of our fast-changing times, but paradox and irony seem as common today as lunch and supper. For example, the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, owns no taxis and the world’s second largest air force is the U.S. Navy.
The same is true of the American beef sector. As of mid-January, the owner […]

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Mojo Working

The knuckle-cracking cold that accompanied most of the country out of 2017 also followed most of us into 2018. Worse, it didn’t come alone. Much of last year’s bad mojo—the crazy weather, its bitter politics, policy gridlock—also crossed December’s ice bridge into the new year.
For example, President Donald Trump’s closed-fisted trade negotiating style reappeared Jan. […]

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The Anti-Science of “Sound Science”

For more than 20 years, farm and ranch groups, Congress, and Big Agbiz have used the phrase “sound science” like a sharp shovel to undermine agricultural policy they want to alter or bury.
Ask them to define “sound science,” however, and you’ll get no clear explanation. That’s because “sound science” is a political weapon, not a […]

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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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Picking Up the Tab

In good years and in bad, there’s a lot of money in American food. Regardless of the year, however, less of it flows back to the folks who actually grow the food, American farmers and ranchers.
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that cash paid to American farmers and ranchers this year—for everything […]

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Men in Black

Play, watch or listen to any baseball game and, sooner than later, what you thought was a strike will be called a ball, or vice versa, by the home plate umpire.
Most times, it’s not a big deal. There are, after all, hundreds of pitches in any game and the balls and strikes called by the […]

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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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“Done Reading Your Rubbish”

Six months may have passed since readers last got their say in this space but nothing during that time has mellowed their views of this effort, the words they use to explain those views, and some of their more colorful suggestions on where they think I should store my ink pens.
For example, a March column […]

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Too Many Cooks

Toques, the starched, stovepipe hats worn by chefs, are crowned with 100 tiny pleats that, explain the French, represent the 100 ways to prepare an egg every cook must master before earning the title “Chef” and a much-prized toque.
Recent action by President Donald J. Trump and his administration suggest there must also be 100 ways […]

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