From the Column

You Know It’s Going to Be a Long, Hot Summer if…

      You know it’s going to be a long, hot summer if, on the day before you assume the political leadership of the United Kingdom—as Boris Johnson did on July 23—one of the world’s most authoritative newspapers, the New York Times, prints a column that begins with the phrase, “Boris Johnson, to whom lying comes as […]

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Doing Your Civic Duty. Or not.

      Look out, rural America, Congress is headed your way during its annual month-long break in August and its members want to talk trade, trade, and trade.

      They don’t, however, want to talk about America’s flagging 2019 ag exports or the still-in-place, retaliatory tariffs that are clipping U.S. exports.

      No, rural America’s almost entirely Republican […]

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“Mother Nature Always Bats Last”

      Call it what you will—coincidence, chance or just bad luck—but on the very day that President Donald J. Trump defended his Administration’s almost indefensible record on the environment, the Washington, D. C. metro area was deluged by rainfall not seen since Noah.

      In fact, so much rain fell so fast on the nation’s capital […]

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Writers Write, Readers Read, and, Often, Readers Write

Writers write and readers read and, always to this writer’s pleasant surprise, readers often write. Most letters and emails are either complimentary or inquisitive. More than a few, however, come nowhere near complimentary and some, in fact, are quite, ah, declarative.

      For example, 2019 was just three days old when the editor of an Indiana […]

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Ag Has Bigger Problems Than Weather, Trade, Bailouts…

      When you’ve been in the ag journalism game for almost 40 years, few things surprise you. Floods, droughts, market crack-ups, political crockery, price fixing: none of it is shocking anymore.

      And, yet, on June 21, the Washington Post published a farm-based story that made even this graybeard marvel at how tone deaf and superior-sounding rural politics has […]

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The Bum’s Rush, USDA Style

      U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue doesn’t need to hit the road this summer to find more than enough messy problems to keep him busy through harvest.

      There’s the Chinese trade mess, the NAFTA 2.0 trade mess, the European Union trade mess, and the Japanese trade mess.

      Also, there’s the mess Mother Nature made […]

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Welcome to Paradise, er, Paradox

      There’s an interesting paradox occurring in today’s commodity and financial markets. Maybe you’ve noticed it; market watchers certainly have. Here’s what they’ve seen:

      Every time President Donald J. Trump takes to Twitter to threaten a nation with import tariffs—most recently, Mexico—the U.S. stock market shoots higher.

      Paradoxically, however, every time U.S. Secretary of Agriculture […]

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“A Lick and a Promise” Aren’t Enough

      Most American farmers spent the last week of May and the first week of June either driving through mud or stuck in it. Their two farming partners, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam, were little help; one brought threats of more rain and mud, the other threats of more tariffs and bailouts.

      Farmers in my […]

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Mitigation Money Should Fuel the Market; Not the Trade War

      The month of May left as it arrived: riding in a rowboat from flooded farm field to flooded farm field across the Midwest. Worse, June is sloshing in with more rain, more mud, and more worry.

      Complicating an already complicated spring, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a broad, new scheme that could pay U.S. farmers up […]

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Talkin’ About My Generation

      It’s a truism in American agriculture that food-growing technology undergoes an industry-shaking metamorphosis every generation.

      When Grandpa (both yours and mine) farmed, hybrid seed corn came in and oat-eating horsepower went out. His sons, our fathers, were early adopters of anhydrous ammonia, 2,4-D, and, whoa, combines.

      Twenty-five years later, our generational farm-changing moment arrived with […]

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