From the Column

Sometimes the Hardest Thing to Do is Nothing; Let’s Do it

Mid-July was always summer’s sweet spot on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.

      With June’s rush of sweaty work—wheat harvest, straw baling, laying corn by, cultivating soybeans, and weed spraying—finally complete and before another cutting of alfalfa was ready, mid-July slipped in with treats like fresh peaches, sweet corn, and juicy garden tomatoes.

      Mid-July also […]

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Public Investment Needs to Return Public Good

      If the ill-tempered and deadly first half of 2020 had been a first-calf heifer on the dairy farm of my youth, my father would have ticketed it for the freezer a month ago.

      His yardstick of heifer potential was short: If she lived up to her breeding, she was a “keeper;” if she “put more on […]

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“I Should’ve Known You Were a Partisan Hack”

      One of the oldest sayings in journalism reminds readers and writers alike that “It’s hard to argue with facts.”

      True, but readers of this weekly effort often rise to the challenge in their letters and emails to me. Most mix “new” or “alternative” (thank you, Kellyanne) facts with their opinion to point out the […]

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No One Ever Loves the Umpire

      While the coronavirus pandemic was hammering global trade earlier this year, the various U.S. bureaucracies devoted to trade barely skipped a beat before returning to their usual grind.

      For example, the U.S. and the United Kingdom (U.K.) just began talks on a bilateral trade pact prior to the U.K.’s Oct. 31 “Brexit” from the […]

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Finding New Ground

      Some observers see the Black Lives Matter movement as a tidal wave washing away America’s original sin, slavery, and the systemic racism it fostered for more than 400 years.

      Maybe, but as the last 75 years of the American civil rights movement has proven time and again—and often in blood—rooting out hatred requires more […]

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Red, White, Blue, and Black

      The first African American I really interacted with was not an American but was, in fact, an African. He was a Nigerian graduate student who served as a teaching assistant to the “discussion session” of a political science class I took at the Big U in 1973.

      That I was nearly 20 years old […]

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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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Memorial Day 2020

Every Memorial Day, my long-time friend David would honor both his family and fellow Vietnam War veterans with a visit to his hometown cemetery, an hour’s drive west of St. Louis.

      Once there, and with the help of his siblings and cousins, David would mow the grass in the family plot, scrub its granite and […]

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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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