From the Column

“It Was Like Watching a Train Wreck Happen”

No one I know has ever witnessed a train wreck as it happened. As such, when a friend or colleague says or writes that an event “was like watching a train wreck happen,” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t like watching a train wreck happen.

      Until Sunday, May 5, that is, when President Donald J. Twitter […]

Read More

Stand Up or Step Aside

      Sanford Bishop and Sonny Perdue go way back.

      So far back that Bishop, now a 14-term, Democratic congressman from south Georgia, remembers when Perdue, now the Secretary of Agriculture under President Donald J. Trump, was a Democrat.

      Their friendship, however, was tested April 9 when Perdue appeared before the House Appropriations ag subcommittee to […]

Read More

Paying Taxes Like a General, or, Better Yet, Amazon

      Decades ago, when discussing the complexity of U.S. tax code, an ag lobbyist friend noted that all he wanted in any tax reform “was to pay the same taxes the generals paid: General Mills, General Motors, General Dynamics…”

      He’d still take that deal. In 2018, General Dynamics had an effective tax rate of 17.8 […]

Read More

Ethanol’s Tightening Tough Spot

      If you want to anger almost any American farmer, write something less than flattering about the declining use of biofuels—especially ethanol—in the U.S. today.

      If you want to really anger almost any American farmer, write something unflattering about biofuels—especially ethanol—that includes the sentence, “U.S. farmers, particularly cornbelt farmers, have gotten a really bad deal from the […]

Read More

Forecast for Trump Trade Talks: More Snow, Maybe Ice

      If what we’re seeing now is the Trump trade “strategy”—cram trade talks between the U.S. and China, the U.S. and Japan, and the U.S. and European Union (E.U.) into an ever-tightening window—export-dependent American farmers and ranchers are in serious trouble for several reasons.

      The first reason is the relentless calendar. Trade talks require years […]

Read More

“No problem, I’ll just stop eating pork.”

      One tried-and-true tool politicians use to deflect public criticism is as old as politics itself: beat up the press.

      Someone in Secretary Sonny Perdue’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thought it was time to do just that April 8 as the “FSIS Office of Congressional and Public Affairs”—USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service—issued a blistering […]

Read More

Time’s Reluctant Elders

      On an April Sunday afternoon a year ago, the last ancestral connection to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was severed when my mother died quietly and peacefully.

      Her passing, quickly followed by her sister’s death, means that this Easter will be the first Easter in the last 64 that I will not be […]

Read More

Unlocking the Rural Economy Requires Different Keys

Of all the places you’d expect to see a fight between the cold, hard face of ag economics and the warm, tender heart of rural America, that place would not be the corner of West 41st St. and Eighth Avenue in New York City, the home of the New York Times.

      And yet there it was in […]

Read More

Corporations Have Rights; Why Not a Lake?

If the ballot box is the ultimate source of power in the United States, then voters in Toledo, Ohio, used that power Feb. 26 to create what’s now being called a “Bill of Rights” for their wide, blue neighbor, Lake Erie.

      That vote, if it withstands court challenges (one was filed immediately after the referendum […]

Read More

It’s Not Easy Making An Egg Out of An Omelet

According to the Roman calendar, the Ides of March was the ancient empire’s traditional day to settle debts. In 44 B.C., Brutus and Cassius, two of Rome’s elite senators, settled a political debt with Julius Caesar, their leader, by stabbing him to death in the Senate on the Ides, or March 15.

      Little blood is […]

Read More