Farm Bill

Insuring Elephants

Federally subsidized crop insurance is the elephant in the Farm Bill pantry and anyone who had any role in pushing the law through the zoo called Congress knows it. What most didn’t know, however, was when Big Ag would finally acknowledge its huge appetite and suffocating presence.
Enter Mary Kay Thatcher, a long-time, well-respected Washington, D.C. […]

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Groundhog Day, Again and Again

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, Christmas in the windshield, and given the glacial pace of key policy decisions awaiting resolution in Washington, D.C., it’s just another Groundhog Day out here in rural America.
Those decisions, after two years of heavy duty do-nothingness, are coming slower than the deadlines faced by this Congress and the new […]

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All Right Already, Fix It

If you ran your farm or ranch like the White House and Congress run the federal government, your corn would never get planted and your cows would be long gone.
Of course, if you ran your farm or ranch anywhere near the level of—what?— the scornful divisiveness and almost pure reactionary politics that now guide Congress […]

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Roberts Reboots and Other Coincidences

While Republicans, Democrats and Independents voted nationwide Nov. 4, coincidence, irony and “Huh?” were the big winners Nov. 5.
For example, nationally, according to early numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, candidates spent $3.7 billion on 2014 elections, the most in U.S. history, to get Americans to vote for them. (Links to source material […]

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2014 Farm Bill: “Immense Bundle of Subsidies”

In a series of toughly-worded articles published in Choices, the quarterly journal of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), nearly every major element of the 2014 Farm Bill—from its expanded crop insurance program to its impact on global trade negotiations—comes under fire as either “perverse,” “false,” “vacuous,” “absurd,” “failing,” or “wasteful.”
The seven articles, overseen […]

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Confused? We’re Not!

All right, listen up! We’ve got a lot to sort out here and little time to do it.
First off, sure, you’re confused. Hey, your neighbor is confused. Your uncle’s confused. Your dog’s confused. Fact is, everyone’s confused. But we’ve been confused worse than this before and we all managed to somehow find our way to […]

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Want Reform? First, Audit.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stunned the cowboy crowd Tues., Sept. 30, when, in a one-sided meeting in his office, he told seven members of the nearly three-years-old beef checkoff reform effort that if they didn’t find common ground soon he might impose a second beef checkoff that would double the annual, non-refundable collections of […]

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The Price of Access? $1.2 Billion

What did individuals and political action committees believe they were buying when, according to Sept. 30 totals compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), they contributed $755.1 million this election cycle to Republican and Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and $415.2 million to Republican and Democratic candidates to the U.S. Senate?
The answer offered […]

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OMG GMOs

The cool summer heated up mid-month when a longstanding war of words re-ignited with three little matches labeled “GMO.”
That this fire still burns hot 20 years after the introduction of GM crops is testament to both the public’s continuing unease about putting something known as “genetically modified organisms” in their mouths and the immense political […]

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You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Herman Melville was a pretty good fiction writer but his 1851 whale of a tale—something about a big fish and a peg-legged man named Ahab—was, in fact, based on the true story of the American whaling ship Essex that, in 1820, was attacked and sunk by a huge whale in the south Pacific.
I’m sorry, you […]

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