Posted on September 23, 2021
To say the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) biggest environmental program, the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, is at a crossroads is like saying climate change might be a problem.
After all, the phrase “climate change” understates today’s dilemma until, for example, you learn that 47 percent of the continental U.S. is now in drought, 2.7 […]
Posted on August 27, 2021
This year of striking contrasts continues to build: a late winter of pandemic horror, a spring of vaccine relief, a summer of social sunshine, now a Covid reprise this fall.
For agriculture, August delivered its own contrasts. For example, the often market-rattling August Crop Report carried the unlikely news of near-record 2021 corn and soybean crops […]
Posted on August 4, 2021
It’s a widely held belief that if you want to get ahead in farm group politics, you can’t be political. Well, not overtly political, anyway. Quietly, sure; loud and you’re outta’ here.
For example, according to OpenSecrets.org, the best tracker of campaign cash in American politics, the nation’s largest, richest farm group, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), contributed a stunningly puny […]
Posted on July 7, 2021
After my first year at the Big U, I returned to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth for a summer of work. The first task, however, was to ask my father to double my hourly pay from 50-cents an hour, the amount I’d been paid through high school, to $1 per hour.
“Well,” Dad […]
Posted on June 11, 2021
On May 17, six farm groups joined voices to call on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Congress, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ensure a “more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.”
That’s make-nice farm talk for “Meatpackers are skinning U.S. cattlemen so badly now that we six, not-usually-friendly groups ask the federal government—swamp […]
Posted on March 11, 2021
After Collin Peterson, the former chairman of the House Ag Committee, lost his Nov. 2020 reelection bid to Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach, the 15-term congressman packed 194 boxes with office material and Capitol Hill memories and returned to his native Minnesota.
The memorabilia included stacks of paper, piles of walnut plaques, one well-used office desk, […]
Posted on February 17, 2021
The impossibly improbable has occurred and you’re now secretary of agriculture. What you think or say about farm and rural policy matters as much—and, often, more—than what other political and farm “leaders” think or say.
So what do you think about U.S. agriculture today?
You’re entering office with major grain markets on a bull run. Indeed, corn, soybeans, and wheat prices […]
Posted on February 17, 2021
One topic most red, blue, and green politicians—and, even more strikingly, farmers—agree on is climate change; it’s real.
In fact, notes the Dec. 2020 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, 58 percent of Iowa farmers and landowners now agree that climate change is both occurring and is caused by either human activity or nature.
Moreover, if you add […]
Posted on January 27, 2021
On his way out the door last month, former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, just off a hammering reelection defeat, offered the nation one final idea: the incoming secretary of agriculture should be empowered to enroll up to 50 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) over the next five years.
Yes, 50—as […]
Posted on January 22, 2021
Like any schoolboy, I was both giddy and awed when I walked into the U.S. Capitol for the first time. Here Abraham Lincoln walked and John Kennedy laid. This is where Henry Clay and Daniel Webster debated, where wars were declared, peace was cherished, and democracy watered.
Only I wasn’t a schoolboy; I was nearly […]