Congress

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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America Alone

This morning’s softly falling snow and below freezing temperature make it evident that winter’s early end, suggested by two muddy, 50-degree days last week, was just a rumor. The season’s hard evidence—frozen ground, frozen lake, frozen me—is back and will remain so, predicts the National Weather Service, well into February.
Frozen, also, are federal budget fights, […]

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This is Crazy, Right?

You’re pretty sharp; tell me if this makes sense.
Right now, the cotton and dairy lobbies are pushing Congress to pass an additional $1 billion of federal farm spending by attaching not-yet agreed upon language to a must-pass $81 billion disaster relief bill that promises aid to long-suffering Americans overwhelmed by rain, wind, fire, and mud.
And, […]

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Mojo Working

The knuckle-cracking cold that accompanied most of the country out of 2017 also followed most of us into 2018. Worse, it didn’t come alone. Much of last year’s bad mojo—the crazy weather, its bitter politics, policy gridlock—also crossed December’s ice bridge into the new year.
For example, President Donald Trump’s closed-fisted trade negotiating style reappeared Jan. […]

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The Anti-Science of “Sound Science”

For more than 20 years, farm and ranch groups, Congress, and Big Agbiz have used the phrase “sound science” like a sharp shovel to undermine agricultural policy they want to alter or bury.
Ask them to define “sound science,” however, and you’ll get no clear explanation. That’s because “sound science” is a political weapon, not a […]

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Capitol Hill’s Christmas Cookie Bake-Off

Business leaders like Warren Buffett and the late Steve Jobs often credited their enormous success to simplicity. Buffett repeatedly explains that his best stock market secret is no secret at all: Buy quality and hold it. Similarly, Jobs made complex machines—computers, music recordings, cellular telephones—so simple and intuitive that even aging Oliver tractor drivers can […]

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