Farm Policy

The Silence of the Lambs

      There are many reasons to dislike JBS USA, the world’s—and America’s—largest meatpacker.

      In 2017, for example, JBS heirs and bosses, Joesely and Wesley Batista, cut a plea deal to escape prosecution in a bribery scandal that involved an incredible 1,829 politicians in their native Brazil. Both, however, later served six months in jail on […]

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The Third Time Might Not Be the Charm

It turns out that the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” is neither Chinese nor a curse.

      According to multiple sources, the adage’s roots reach back to a late-19th century member of Parliament commenting on how Great Britain’s expanding empire had made for “interesting times.”

      True enough for the empire’s builders; not so […]

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Twenty-Four Miles of Bad Spending, Bad Policy, Bad Ideas

      One trillion is one thousand billion or one million million. In money terms, $1 trillion is a stack of $100 bills 631 miles high.

      Now consider that the three coronavirus relief bills already approved by Congress will collectively spend about $3 trillion, or a $100-bill stack 1,893 miles high.

      But wait, Congress isn’t done. Its […]

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We Don’t Even Choose ‘Herd Immunity’ for Livestock

Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.

      It was hard, dirty work but […]

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Public Investment Needs to Return Public Good

      If the ill-tempered and deadly first half of 2020 had been a first-calf heifer on the dairy farm of my youth, my father would have ticketed it for the freezer a month ago.

      His yardstick of heifer potential was short: If she lived up to her breeding, she was a “keeper;” if she “put more on […]

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No One Ever Loves the Umpire

      While the coronavirus pandemic was hammering global trade earlier this year, the various U.S. bureaucracies devoted to trade barely skipped a beat before returning to their usual grind.

      For example, the U.S. and the United Kingdom (U.K.) just began talks on a bilateral trade pact prior to the U.K.’s Oct. 31 “Brexit” from the […]

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This Bloody Business

      If you’ve ever butchered anything from a rabbit to a hog—and butchered is the right word, not the bleached “harvested”—you know there will be blood. Butchering, after all, is a bloody business.

      While 95 percent of Americans are carnivores, it’s a safe bet that nearly 99.9 percent of them haven’t thought much about where […]

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Now is Not the Time to Make Old Friends Into New Enemies

As if 20 percent unemployment, wretchedly weak commodity markets, shuttered ethanol and meatpacking plants, and a coronavirus pandemic aren’t bad enough, the White House chose mid-May to, literally, go viral with China, one of American agriculture’s best cash-and-carry customers.

      This fight, however, isn’t over steel, aluminum or soybeans. It’s about spilled milk: How much responsibility […]

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“Feeding You Like Family” Often Requires a Family

While Tyson Foods says it’s “feeding you like family,” we recently learned that it and the rest of America’s Big Meat members sometimes need a war-like White House declaration just to cut a fat hog.

      More striking than the order itself was its effect: it didn’t work.

      A week after President Donald J. Trump ordered […]

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Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Chains

      For over a month now, nearly anyone who can lift a fork has asked what the “new normal” in American agriculture will be after Covid-19 loosens its terrible grip.

      Six weeks later, we now have a pretty good idea that ag’s new normal will look like ag’s old normal even if it takes a […]

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