Farm Policy

February’s Paradox, March’s Struggles

February is a paradox. Leap Year or not, it’s the shortest month of the year yet it always feels like the longest month of winter. Endless gray skies bleed into endless gray days into an almost endless gray month.

      Then March appears with its light, color, and hope and February’s dreariness is soon forgotten.

      Light, […]

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The Long and Short of It

If you’re a farmer or rancher, you might be in for a bad day when you open your Monday morning email and five of the six headlines sent by an ag news service read:

      –“USDA declares Brazilian beef safe, lifts [U.S. import] ban;”

      –“GAO launches investigation into Trump aid to farmers;”

      –“China could purchase much […]

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The Changing Geography of U.S. Farming and Food

    Geography isn’t static. Rivers change course, mountains erode, and islands disappear under rising seas.

      The geography of farming and food changes, too. For example, 180 years ago my home county was the castor bean and castor oil capital of the U.S. Both titles, however, slipped into irrelevance as a new resource, crude oil, rose […]

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How Rural America Can Avoid “Another Century of Degraded Water”

      Despite the presidential caucus debacle Iowa hosted Monday, Feb. 3, the too old, too-white, and too-rural (at least to pundits who drop by every Leap Year) Hawkeye State still finished its awful week with an act of political courage rarely seen in U.S. agriculture today.

      On Feb. 7, the Des Moines Register published a clear, sharp […]

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Going Green is About Getting Green

One thing Big Ag has gotten very good at over the last two decades is fighting what it sees as the “green” invasion of do-good outsiders into American farming and ranching.

      You know who I’m talking about; these tie-dyed, righteous interlopers of Eastern Elites and Left Coast Libs riding impossibly white unicorns into battle in […]

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When It Comes to Trade, Lucky It’s an Election Year

      After the White House announced its twin trade triumphs, passage of NAFTA 2.0 and phase one of a multi-phase deal with China, readers emailed to suggest I should write a column on—to quote two—the “absolutely amazing trade deals” “only President Trump” could have done.

      Before I pass judgment on so humble a request, it […]

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Common Sense Rarely is the Common Denominator

Before the year loses its fresh, youthful promise, let’s look at some recent research to, hopefully, address a nagging problem carried over from 2019.

      For months last year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue defended three proposed rule changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will remove an estimated 3.7 million recipients from […]

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What We Know

The best way to begin a new year without feeling overwhelmed by what we don’t know is to start with what we do know.

      For example, we know the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) December World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate shows that about 14 percent, or one in seven bushels (bu.), of the 2019 […]

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Welcome to the Fight; Now Get in Line

      After 38 years in journalism, some events still cause shock. Many center on public officials holding private meetings where a “just-us-insiders” intimacy affords all a “better understanding”—read total control—of their policy initiatives.

      Sorry (not sorry), but public policy doesn’t work that way. There’s no room for secrecy when public officials spend public money to […]

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More Fallout from “Mt. Tariff”

      No major American daily newspaper features sharper, more poisonous pens than the market-focused writers at the Wall Street Journal. When these opinion peddlers go after you in print, they hit hard, fast, and—most of the time—with inarguable fact.

      Witness the Journal’s lead editorial Dec. 3, titled “Mount Tariff Erupts Again,” a full-frontal assault on President Donald J. […]

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