From the Column

If You Want to See the Future, You Need to Look Ahead

To most farmers and ranchers, “sustainable” is a word that, like exercise or vacation, has a dictionary definition and a personal definition. The difference between the two, however, often is the difference between the county fair and the World’s Fair.

      These folks aren’t alone. Almost everyone and everything from commodity groups to coal companies make […]

Read More

In the Long Run It’s, Well, a Long Run

One of the oldest theoretical constructions in economics declares that in a perfect market, short term profits and losses eventually even out so that, in the long term, all profits are zero.

      Famed 20th century English economist John Maynard Keynes gets credit for restating this jargon-rich theory into clear, concise language when, in 1923, he wrote, […]

Read More

Spring Needs to Bring Two Thaws: Snow and Ag Trade

For those of us who have slid, shoveled, and skated through the wildest up-and-down February weather in years, here’s a warm thought: corn planters are rolling in southern Texas.

      Need another reason to plant a smile on your face? In eight weeks, corn planters will be running all over today’s wintry Midwest.

      After that brief […]

Read More

The State of The Nation’s Farm and Food Union

The President of the United States should not be the only federal official required to offer the nation’s citizens an annual report on the “State of the Union.”

      Every senior department executive—from Cabinet secretaries and the Pentagon chiefs to the Senate’s majority leader and the House speaker—should be required to examine their integral part of […]

Read More

Knives, Forks, and Farmers Favor Immigration Reform

When Internal Revenue Service (IRS) workers returned to their jobs Jan. 28 after the recent, 35-day government shutdown, an estimated five million pieces of unopened mail awaited.

      Equally daunting, the shutdown coincided with the IRS’s hiring of its annual army of temporary workers to process the impending tax season’s mail. The delay now leaves the […]

Read More

Shutdown? Not on the dairy farm of my youth.

There was no “shutdown”—not in the U.S. government sense, anyway—on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.

Come to think of it, there was never a showdown, hoedown, lockdown, or shakedown either. There were, however, machinery breakdowns, endless sundowns and, every now and then, a letdown.

But shutdowns? Not one, not even a “partial” one.

In fact, if anyone […]

Read More

Heading for the Brexit

Two hundred and forty-three years after the not-yet United States declared its independence in a lengthy letter to England’s King George III, the old enemies are, yet again, new allies.

This time, however, it’s an unlikely alliance of defiance; both are challenging international institutions like the World Trade Organization and the European Union (E.U.) which some […]

Read More

“You Better Believe It”

      Epistemology is what we on the farm called “a $10 word.”
      At $10, though, it’s underpriced because epistemology—the study of what we believe, what is true, and the evidence we have to justify that truth and belief—covers a lot of ground.
      In short, epistemology is the study of knowledge.
      That topic sounds drier than last summer’s […]

Read More

Let Us Pray

Man, that ended badly.
December limped to an ugly conclusion as nearly everyone from Wall Street to Main Street took a year-end pounding not seen in three generations. Pick an investment sector (stocks, bonds, commodities); a nation state (the U.S., China, or the European Union); or a political system (a democratic republic, parliamentary, or single-party rule), […]

Read More

“Fair and Balanced” Reader Mail Round-Up

Tweeter-in-Chief, President Donald J. Trump, has been quite clear in his opinion of CNN, the cable television news network. Indeed, Trump’s despise of the network—he thinks its initials stand for Certainly Not News—encourages supporters to use “CNN” as a slander.
For example, when a reader of this weekly effort sends an email that includes the sentence […]

Read More