Farm Policy

The Simple Answer to the Simple Question

Oftentimes the simple answer to a simple question is the simple truth.

Some people, however, don’t want the simple truth, so they bend facts or shave figures so their square pegs replace roundly accepted reality. It’s commonplace in ag.

For example, on April 12, President Joe Biden traveled to Iowa to announce an expansion of the ethanol […]

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Don’t Be a Chicken–Literally

Caution: This is a chicken-and-egg story.

Late this winter, as our Covid pandemic was waning, many bird species–and especially chickens–were suffering their own terrible pandemic, the spread of “highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI),” noted, FERN, the Food & Environmental Reporting Network May 31.

How terrible? Since January, 38 million chickens have died in the U.S. either because […]

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Harvested Cattle, Slaughtered Markets

You don’t need to be a vegan to know that livestock and poultry aren’t “harvested,” the squeaky clean verb that’s become fashionable among farm and ranch groups to minimize the end–as in The End–of most animals their members grow.

Soybeans are harvested; pigs are slaughtered. Wheat is harvested; cattle are slaughtered.

It’s not a minor point, insists […]

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First steps in ag climate fight are honesty and courage, not offsets and credits

Last May, the Canadian farm group National Farmers Union (NFU), submitted a detailed response to the Canadian government’s earlier “Draft Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations.” The response, like the government request, went relatively unnoticed in U.S. ag circles.

It shouldn’t have because the 23-page reply by the 200,000-member NFU was as shocking in its brevity […]

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‘I used to say FDA stood for foot-dragging artists”

FDA is, of course, government shorthand for the Food and Drug Administration or, as Helena Bottemiller Evich makes crystal clear in a deeply-sourced, richly detailed April 8 exposé, the Food and Drug Administration.

The emphasis is required, explains Bottemiller Evich, a senior editor and ag reporter at Politico, because “a monthslong… investigation” found “that regulating food […]

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If futures markets don’t work, your markets won’t work

Contrary to the woeful baying by Big Agbiz, the United States–and any nation with enough money–will not run out of food this year. This can be said without reservation for two reasons.

First, war or no war, there is no global shortage of wheat, the crop today’s Chicken Littles are cluck-cluck clucking about. In the last […]

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Big Food Makes Big Ag Look Like a Piker

If you think Big Ag has too few suppliers, too few buyers, and too few farmers and ranchers, you need to meet Big Food. It is big-time big.

Who is Big Food?

That straightforward question was tackled by academics, journalists, and legal professionals in a day-long conference on March 12, titled “Reforming America’s Retail Food Markets,” at […]

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Coming war for U.S. crop acres renews food-versus-fuel fight

American farmers are long familiar with acre wars. This regional, late winter scrum is a showdown over how many acres of corn, soybeans, cotton, and wheat acres farmers will plant mainly in the Midwest, Great Plains, and South.

Most years these fights are decided by a variable–and oftentimes volatile–combination of three elements: what market prices are […]

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Making Pork Chops Flow Uphill

For more than 40 years my father farmed within a mile of where the Kaskaskia River met the Mississippi deep in southern Illinois. That meant he had two, lifetime partners: the river and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, landlords of the levees that guarded our wedge of the Great American Bottoms.

Dad never argued with […]

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Getting MAD, Mutually Assured Digesters, is Always a Bad Idea

If today’s California is what the rest of America will look like tomorrow, you might want to brace yourself for too little water, too much animal manure, and $4.65-per-gallon gasoline.

And, weird, too, because in California these too-little, too-much, and too-expensive elements have been combined to create what was thought to be a partial cure for […]

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