Farm Policy

USDA’s ‘Deeply Flawed’ $3 Billion ‘Climate Smart Commodities’ Program

Even at first glance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recently announced $3-billion-dollar “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities” sounds like doublespeak, an Orwellian invention that reverses the meaning of words.

Or, more plainly, how can today’s commodity-centered, industrialized agriculture be remotely “climate-smart” when everyone in the food business readily acknowledges it’s an oil-gulping, climate-changing juggernaut?

The short, truthful […]

Read More

Mother Nature Has A Population Plan Too

A scientist friend recently noted that at today’s rate of consumption, the world is environmentally and economically sustainable for roughly 1 billion people. “That means with the world’s population of 8 billion,” he half-joked, “you’re a goner.”

Right, just not right now; let nature take its course, eh?

Recent population trends, however, show that nature might already […]

Read More

Ag Policy Was About Cultural Stability, Not Endless Market Growth

If you think U.S. politics are too polarized, too anger-driven, and too polluted by big money, take a quick look at the train wreck that United Kingdom politics has become to see what’s in store for us if we don’t regain our collective goodwill soon.

On July 7, the straw-haired, scandal-ridden Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned. […]

Read More

‘The Ceaseless Drive to Endless Increase…’

It usually goes without notice or comment, but three of the planet’s key elements–carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen–sit like ducks in row as Element Six, Seven, and Eight, respectively, on the Periodic Table.

None is more important than the others and yet, if there’s a first among equals, it would be nitrogen as a prescient report from […]

Read More

When Free Markets Hit the Frying Pan, Consumers Often Get Burned

On Nov. 6, 2018, 12 million Californians voted, by a 63-to-37-percent majority, to establish minimum welfare standards for livestock and poultry products–chiefly eggs, pork, and veal–sold in the nation’s most populous state.

The initiative, called Proposition 12 (Prop 12), was an emphatic endorsement of two previous actions (one by voters in 2008; the other by […]

Read More

Given What We Don’t Know, Why Do We Act Like We Do Know?

Most of American agriculture sees Africa as one vast nation and one vast market. It is, of course, neither.

Africa, in fact, has more nations (54), more languages (over 2,000), and more cultures (3,000-plus), than any other continent on Earth. It’s also the world’s second largest and second most populous continent with three times the people […]

Read More

Drought, War, Inflation, and Consumer Disconnect

By almost any measure, 2022 has been a tough year for most. Inflation, war, the growing consequences of climate change, and widening political divide are just a few of the compounding woes we continue to deal with as harvest and U.S. midterm elections loom.

In the middle of this chaos, however, U.S. farmers received remarkably good […]

Read More

A No-Ethanol Future Doesn’t Mean a No-Profit Future

It’s rare to find one Midwestern academic publicly questioning the economic and environmental impacts of ethanol.

It’s even rarer to find four academics–one from a corn state land grant university, three from a leading university in the leading corn-producing state–raising objections to the biofuel and its byproducts that will use one out of every three bushels […]

Read More

All Hats, No Cattle, and Little Chance

Two groups–one of South Dakota investors, the other tied to Texas cattle ranchers and feeders–are preparing to spend a collective $1.8 billion on two meatpacking plants that they say will be so innovative each will pay cattle suppliers more for their cattle and bison than any of today’s Big Four packers.

Most meatpacker pros, however, think […]

Read More

From Catalonia to California, It’s Been One Long, Hot Summer

Long ago when traveling through Europe, a friend developed what he called the “Alan Rule” since I never remembered the Celsius-to-Fahrenheit conversion math: 10 degrees Celsius, wear a coat; 20 degrees, a light jacket; 30 degrees, shirtsleeves.

There was no suggestion for 40 degrees because 40 degrees Celsius is a baking 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F), an […]

Read More