Farm Policy

“A Lick and a Promise” Aren’t Enough

      Most American farmers spent the last week of May and the first week of June either driving through mud or stuck in it. Their two farming partners, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam, were little help; one brought threats of more rain and mud, the other threats of more tariffs and bailouts.

      Farmers in my […]

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Mitigation Money Should Fuel the Market; Not the Trade War

      The month of May left as it arrived: riding in a rowboat from flooded farm field to flooded farm field across the Midwest. Worse, June is sloshing in with more rain, more mud, and more worry.

      Complicating an already complicated spring, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a broad, new scheme that could pay U.S. farmers up […]

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Stand Up or Step Aside

      Sanford Bishop and Sonny Perdue go way back.

      So far back that Bishop, now a 14-term, Democratic congressman from south Georgia, remembers when Perdue, now the Secretary of Agriculture under President Donald J. Trump, was a Democrat.

      Their friendship, however, was tested April 9 when Perdue appeared before the House Appropriations ag subcommittee to […]

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Ethanol’s Tightening Tough Spot

      If you want to anger almost any American farmer, write something less than flattering about the declining use of biofuels—especially ethanol—in the U.S. today.

      If you want to really anger almost any American farmer, write something unflattering about biofuels—especially ethanol—that includes the sentence, “U.S. farmers, particularly cornbelt farmers, have gotten a really bad deal from the […]

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“No problem, I’ll just stop eating pork.”

      One tried-and-true tool politicians use to deflect public criticism is as old as politics itself: beat up the press.

      Someone in Secretary Sonny Perdue’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thought it was time to do just that April 8 as the “FSIS Office of Congressional and Public Affairs”—USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service—issued a blistering […]

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Unlocking the Rural Economy Requires Different Keys

Of all the places you’d expect to see a fight between the cold, hard face of ag economics and the warm, tender heart of rural America, that place would not be the corner of West 41st St. and Eighth Avenue in New York City, the home of the New York Times.

      And yet there it was in […]

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Corporations Have Rights; Why Not a Lake?

If the ballot box is the ultimate source of power in the United States, then voters in Toledo, Ohio, used that power Feb. 26 to create what’s now being called a “Bill of Rights” for their wide, blue neighbor, Lake Erie.

      That vote, if it withstands court challenges (one was filed immediately after the referendum […]

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It’s Not Easy Making An Egg Out of An Omelet

According to the Roman calendar, the Ides of March was the ancient empire’s traditional day to settle debts. In 44 B.C., Brutus and Cassius, two of Rome’s elite senators, settled a political debt with Julius Caesar, their leader, by stabbing him to death in the Senate on the Ides, or March 15.

      Little blood is […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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