From the Column

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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Twenty-five hundred gallons of water per bushel of irrigated corn is ‘too much’

In a recent telephone conversation, a southwest Kansas farmer casually noted that he had stopped growing irrigated corn some years back because “it cost too much.” Curious, I asked what it cost to irrigate an acre of corn in his arid, cattle-feeding-and-corn-hungry corner of the state.

“It wasn’t the money,” he quickly explained, “it was the […]

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If futures markets don’t work, your markets won’t work

Contrary to the woeful baying by Big Agbiz, the United States–and any nation with enough money–will not run out of food this year. This can be said without reservation for two reasons.

First, war or no war, there is no global shortage of wheat, the crop today’s Chicken Littles are cluck-cluck clucking about. In the last […]

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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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Coming war for U.S. crop acres renews food-versus-fuel fight

American farmers are long familiar with acre wars. This regional, late winter scrum is a showdown over how many acres of corn, soybeans, cotton, and wheat acres farmers will plant mainly in the Midwest, Great Plains, and South.

Most years these fights are decided by a variable–and oftentimes volatile–combination of three elements: what market prices are […]

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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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“Broken Systems Raise Costs Far Faster Than Resilient Ones”

One of the most beautiful–and inexplicable–aspects of economics is how its practitioners never seem to be wrong.

Indeed, almost every school of economic thought, from John Maynard Keynes’ demand-driven economics on the left to Arthur Laffer’s supply-side economics on the right, is crowded with disciples defending their leader’s theories and just often, if subtly, attacking their […]

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Land Values Face Trouble in Coming Decade

It’s the choices we make in the good times, the grandson of a Kansas homesteader once told me, that determine our farming successes, not the choices we make in the bad times.

Why? Because, he explained, in the good times we have the money to make big mistakes and in the bad times we’re too poor […]

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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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