From the Column

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you’re an ag-dependent advertising agency, a commodity organization hired hand, or an ag journalist who can’t do math, commodity checkoffs are a gift that just keeps on giving.
The most recent checkoff gift comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. On Jan. 31, the OIG released a 29-page report on […]

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The Next One

House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, a fast talker by birth and trade, spared few superlatives when describing, in a telephone press conference Jan. 28, the finally finished, modestly named Agricultural Act of 2014.
“Historic in many ways,” Lucas said of the pending law as he shared the call with his Senate counterpart, Debbie Stabenow, a […]

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Go Slow on the Bull

You wouldn’t order a new pick-up truck without reserving the right to amend—choose—how the truck is equipped inside and out. The same goes for a new combine or an operating loan.
After all, it’s your farm or ranch so, naturally, you’ll choose what’s right for you and it and not let some ratchet-jawed salesman dictate the […]

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Ag’s New Math

It might be a new year but the old year’s weaknesses persist.
For example, I still try to type the word “separate” with one “a,” still can’t walk past a display of cherry licorice without buying some, and still can’t do high-end math like, say, division.
Part of that latter weakness goes back to the 1960s when […]

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Books, Plans, and “congress”

A week or two into every new year, most folks review, often regretfully, their list of resolutions already bent, broken or buried.
That never happened on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth for one simple reason: We never made any New Year’s resolutions.
We didn’t. Honest.
In fact, I can’t recall one instance that of […]

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Another satisfied customer

There are two file folders in the lower, right drawer of my desk. One is labeled “Mail,” the other “Another Satisfied Customer.”
The former is filled with complimentary or question-asking reader mail. The latter holds mail that’s more acidic than affectionate, more hammering than humorous.
Like an email from “Gil” in response to an October column on […]

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“Hoard’s” Priceless Christmas Gift

The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered the farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby wood stove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves in the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.
“I believe this […]

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Big Ag and Big Data

Everyday, according to the coconut milk-drinking nerds in Silicon Valley, the world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of electronic data.
Yes, 2.5 quintillion. Think two, comma, five and then 17 zeroes.
If a picture helps, picture this: If you placed that data on iPads equipped with a 32-gigabyte memory, you would need 57.5 billion iPads to hold it.
Then […]

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The triumph of dumb

Somewhere along his long, winding way from Delaware to Indiana to Washington D.C., Bart Chilton picked up a desire for public service, a view that government should serve the powerful and powerless alike and a trusted way to bring people together to write straightforward, fair public policy.
Appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, Chilton […]

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50 years and no forgetting

Like most Americans of 1955 or so vintage, the lovely Catherine and I will spend time this week recalling our personal whos, whats, whens and wheres of President John F. Kennedy’s murder, funeral and burial 50 years ago.
It is likely, though, we won’t talk much about JFK’s politics and policy because we were too young […]

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