From the Column

All Hats, No Cattle, and Little Chance

Two groups–one of South Dakota investors, the other tied to Texas cattle ranchers and feeders–are preparing to spend a collective $1.8 billion on two meatpacking plants that they say will be so innovative each will pay cattle suppliers more for their cattle and bison than any of today’s Big Four packers.

Most meatpacker pros, however, think […]

Read More

From Catalonia to California, It’s Been One Long, Hot Summer

Long ago when traveling through Europe, a friend developed what he called the “Alan Rule” since I never remembered the Celsius-to-Fahrenheit conversion math: 10 degrees Celsius, wear a coat; 20 degrees, a light jacket; 30 degrees, shirtsleeves.

There was no suggestion for 40 degrees because 40 degrees Celsius is a baking 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F), an […]

Read More

‘Funeral by Funeral, Theory Advances’

In 1970, Paul Samuelson became the first American awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.  The honor came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist because he had “simply rewritten considerable parts of economic theory.”

True that. Samuelson had already written what would become the best-selling college textbook on the subject, Economics, (now translated into […]

Read More

Forty Billion Reasons to Go Green

If American farmers and ranchers really want to live the oft-repeated boast that they are “the first environmentalists,” then, by golly, Joe Manchin and his Democratic Senate colleagues have the legislative vehicle to prove it.

Manchin, the chief monkeywrencher of Dem dreams for the last two years, shocked everyone when he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck […]

Read More

Vacation Essentials: Mayonnaise Jar, ‘Light Breakfast,’ Butter

Each of my parents had an unwritten list of essentials to take when our family–of, holy cow, eight–left the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth on our annual August vacation.

For example, my mother never crossed the state line without a wide-mouth quart jar filled with soapy water and a washcloth so she could keep […]

Read More

Our Money, Their Mouth, Your Choice

If the political polls are to be believed, November’s midterm election will sweep Democrats out of power in the U.S. House of Representatives and put Republicans back in charge.

If accurate, House Republicans will have a splendid opportunity to put your tax money where their collective mouth is by implementing their highly detailed, little-publicized “Blueprint to […]

Read More

Outside the Fence One Time Too Many

Contrary to folklore, three times is rarely a charm. The number three, in fact, often carries woe: “Three strikes and you’re out,” for example or “Bad news usually comes in threes.”

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors rediscovered these portentous axioms July 7 when, for the third time in less than a year, a jury in […]

Read More

Market Forecast for Summer: Cloudy with a Chance of Hardheadedness

A veteran commodity trader once urged me to remember that “People who say the market is wrong are usually on the wrong side of the market.”

That insight, he added, had been learned the hard way, “…as in hardheaded.”

His advice came to mind as the futures market carried its June swoon into the U.S. Department of […]

Read More

Nowhere to Hide at Low Tide

Mega-billionaire Warren Buffett has a well-deserved reputation as a genius “value investor” and pithy commentator. His annual reports to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are highly anticipated for their market insight and expressive language, and often make news because of both.

For example, one of Buffett’s most quoted sayings colorfully explains that “You only find out who’s swimming […]

Read More

The Simple Answer to the Simple Question

Oftentimes the simple answer to a simple question is the simple truth.

Some people, however, don’t want the simple truth, so they bend facts or shave figures so their square pegs replace roundly accepted reality. It’s commonplace in ag.

For example, on April 12, President Joe Biden traveled to Iowa to announce an expansion of the ethanol […]

Read More