Big Ag

Twenty-Four Miles of Bad Spending, Bad Policy, Bad Ideas

      One trillion is one thousand billion or one million million. In money terms, $1 trillion is a stack of $100 bills 631 miles high.

      Now consider that the three coronavirus relief bills already approved by Congress will collectively spend about $3 trillion, or a $100-bill stack 1,893 miles high.

      But wait, Congress isn’t done. Its […]

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We Don’t Even Choose ‘Herd Immunity’ for Livestock

Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.

      It was hard, dirty work but […]

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The “Chinese Century” Looks Like the “Chinese Decade”

      While most county and state fairs are Covid casualties this year, a giant, buzzing Ferris wheel—America’s relationship with China—continues to spin at such a dizzying pace that, sooner or later, it will break to harm riders and bystanders alike.

      While that idea may fly in the face of current beliefs, it doesn’t fly in […]

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This Bloody Business

      If you’ve ever butchered anything from a rabbit to a hog—and butchered is the right word, not the bleached “harvested”—you know there will be blood. Butchering, after all, is a bloody business.

      While 95 percent of Americans are carnivores, it’s a safe bet that nearly 99.9 percent of them haven’t thought much about where […]

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Now is Not the Time to Make Old Friends Into New Enemies

As if 20 percent unemployment, wretchedly weak commodity markets, shuttered ethanol and meatpacking plants, and a coronavirus pandemic aren’t bad enough, the White House chose mid-May to, literally, go viral with China, one of American agriculture’s best cash-and-carry customers.

      This fight, however, isn’t over steel, aluminum or soybeans. It’s about spilled milk: How much responsibility […]

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“Feeding You Like Family” Often Requires a Family

While Tyson Foods says it’s “feeding you like family,” we recently learned that it and the rest of America’s Big Meat members sometimes need a war-like White House declaration just to cut a fat hog.

      More striking than the order itself was its effect: it didn’t work.

      A week after President Donald J. Trump ordered […]

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Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Chains

      For over a month now, nearly anyone who can lift a fork has asked what the “new normal” in American agriculture will be after Covid-19 loosens its terrible grip.

      Six weeks later, we now have a pretty good idea that ag’s new normal will look like ag’s old normal even if it takes a […]

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Laughter Is No Longer the Best Medicine

      One reason—there were others—for my departure from farm magazine writing was laughter. Let me explain.

      In the early-1980s, the world, like now, was headed to hell in a hurry and agriculture was leading the parade. U.S. interest rates were a crushing 14 percent, farmland prices were on their way to plunging 40 percent in just five […]

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The World is Changing, Why Haven’t We?

Coronavirus, a farmer in a recent news story noted, “is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

      It may feel that way now but, honestly, that back-breaking straw hit the camel decades ago when the nation’s top agricultural, academic, and political leaders embraced dollar-driven efficiency over safety-centered resiliency as the overarching goal of American farm policy.

      We […]

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How Rural America Can Avoid “Another Century of Degraded Water”

      Despite the presidential caucus debacle Iowa hosted Monday, Feb. 3, the too old, too-white, and too-rural (at least to pundits who drop by every Leap Year) Hawkeye State still finished its awful week with an act of political courage rarely seen in U.S. agriculture today.

      On Feb. 7, the Des Moines Register published a clear, sharp […]

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