Farm Policy

No More Wild Swings, Eh?

If the calendar was a baseball game, mid-December would be the bottom of the ninth.
As such, and given 2018’s crazy weather, banner crops, sloppy harvest, muddled export future, and skinny-to-no profit, mid-December finds farmers and ranchers now at bat with two outs and the opposing team’s smoke-throwing relief pitcher on the mound.
Yeah, it’s been a […]

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GIPSA is on the move, the “GIPSA rule” is not

GIPSA, the badly named, hard-working mule inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is on the move again over objections that the Trump Administration’s ongoing USDA reorganization will bury it—and other, less obscure parts of the department like the Economic Research Service—in new layers of bureaucracy so deep that none will ever be seen again.
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Reading the Facts In-Hand… Or in Your Palm

Years ago, an enterprising neighbor operated a palm reading business from her home with just a secretary, fax machine, and telephone. Her business model was simple: After clients faxed their photocopied handprint and sent some form of payment (rumor had it was $20), our neighbor telephoned them with the results of the “reading.”
While no one […]

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Another War That Won’t End Any Wars

November 11 marked 100 years since the end of World War I, which U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called “the war to end all wars.”
Wilson saw himself as a historic peacemaker; instead he became an ironic phrasemaker. The Great War never brought an end to war, or even an end to that war. The then-raging Russian […]

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Sonny Warned ‘Em–Twice, In Fact

It’s Thanksgiving week, so let’s be generous: The White House trade policy, marked by its heavy use of import tariffs and presidential tweets, continues to confound economists and trading partners alike.
A more accurate, less generous view of President Donald J. Trump’s trade policy would declare it an unhinged mess that has led to a dark, […]

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House GOP Could Claim Farm Bill Victory in Midst of Defeat

A week before American voters decided whether the mid-term elections would deliver a red wave or a blue wave, OpenSecrets.org, the non-partisan group that tracks money in politics, made a spot-on prediction: the biggest wave on Nov. 6 would be green.
Greenbacks, that is, because this year’s political candidates, OpenSecrets estimated, would spend $5.2 billion on […]

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The Road to Perdition Always Leads South

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers.
Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments while […]

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A Cautionary Note from Sand County

“February” is one of the finest essays in Sand County Almanac, the 1949 book of superlative essays on nature and mankind’s role in it, by forester and conservationist Aldo Leopold. In it, Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology, tells the history of his Wisconsin “sand farm” and its natural “community” as he and a friend […]

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High Stakes and Bad Bets

On Oct. 1, U.S. farmers and ranchers joined President Donald J. Trump to praise one of his Administration’s biggest international achievements, a reworked trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Ironically, however, Oct. 1 also brought a massive domestic failure: the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill. The president and his revelers, however, never mentioned […]

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Sometimes You Get What You Vote For

Farmers and ranchers spent most of last month hoping the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent crop estimates would be proven wrong and President Donald J. Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.
September, however, disappointed them on both counts.
On Sept. 12, USDA reported that the already big 2018 […]

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