Congress

Meet Your New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

The only Washington, D.C. area team having a worse year than the Baltimore Orioles, an awful 34-78 on Aug. 6, is big food’s biggest, richest lobbying arm, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, or the GMA.
Most American farmers and ranchers don’t know GMA by its acronym; they do, however, know its work: it was the organizer and […]

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Checkbooks, Guns, and Baloney

The day U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the White House plan to spread $12 billion of taxpayer salve on its festering tariff wound, November soybean futures ended their day completely unimpressed—down a sleepy 2.5 cents.
Farmers echoed the market reaction; they, too, were unimpressed with the bailout. “Trade, not aid,” was their polite, but […]

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America’s Farming Soul

Sometimes it’s even hard for me to believe what I read in the newspaper. The latest “someone-really-said-that?” moment arrived courtesy of The Milkweed, the sharp-penned, monthly dairy newspaper owned and edited by Peter Hardin in Brooklyn, WI.
In its July 2018 edition, Milkweed writer Jan Shepel highlighted the controversy fueled by Marin Bozic, a dairy foods […]

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It’s Hard to Tell: Is it 2018 or 2012 or Worse?

Every July, Congress begins to pack its collective bag to escape the scorching heat and suffocating humidity of Capitol Hill. And that’s just inside the Senate and House; outside it’s even worse.
Trapped in this year’s pressure cooker is the 2018 Farm Bill. While the Senate and House each passed their versions earlier this summer, neither […]

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All Mud, No Zen

Success in sports, business, and politics requires skilled leaders who know their jobs and know how to fold disparate talents and personalities into something greater than the logical sum of its parts.
Take Phil Jackson, a North Dakota high school basketball star, who coached two different teams to 11 National Basketball Association championships between 1991 and […]

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The Winning Losers

There’s something fundamentally wrong with a legislative process that delivers a Farm Bill so deeply flawed that groups as politically diverse as the ruby red Heritage Foundation and the ocean blue Environmental Working Group (EWG) join forces to publicly condemn it.
And yet on May 8, EWG’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber moderated […]

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Plowshares Into Swords

Texan Mike Conaway, the Republican chairman the House Ag Committee, went full cowboy on committee Democrats after he learned all 20 of them would vote no on his 2018 Farm Bill if he presented it with what they said were 20 percent cuts in SNAP, the nation’s $68-billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Conaway’s reaction was like […]

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The Terrible What Ifs

Spring arrived slowly this year. Then, late last week, its welcome warmth and longer light slipped in and winter’s bony fingers loosened their grip.
In farm and ranch country, however, spring brings tough questions and even tougher choices. Both could have been softened if our farm and political leaders sought compromise, not confrontation. Alas, they didn’t […]

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Slouching Toward 2014

In this space on Feb. 2, 2014, I offered a blunt assessment of the just-passed (and still current) Farm Bill and its key handler, Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican who was chairman of the House Ag Committee.
In particular, I criticized Lucas’s description of the legislation that he and his Senate counterpart, Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, […]

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Productive Purpose

It was an inarguable fact on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth that there was no earthly reason my grandfather, one of the farm’s principal owners, would ever borrow money from any bank, person or company.
It wasn’t because he feared debt; he didn’t. As a St. Louis-based bond broker for almost 40 years, […]

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