Finance

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 […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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‘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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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‘Funeral by Funeral, Theory Advances’

In 1970, Paul Samuelson became the first American awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.  The honor came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist because he had “simply rewritten considerable parts of economic theory.”

True that. Samuelson had already written what would become the best-selling college textbook on the subject, Economics, (now translated into […]

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Forty Billion Reasons to Go Green

If American farmers and ranchers really want to live the oft-repeated boast that they are “the first environmentalists,” then, by golly, Joe Manchin and his Democratic Senate colleagues have the legislative vehicle to prove it.

Manchin, the chief monkeywrencher of Dem dreams for the last two years, shocked everyone when he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck […]

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Outside the Fence One Time Too Many

Contrary to folklore, three times is rarely a charm. The number three, in fact, often carries woe: “Three strikes and you’re out,” for example or “Bad news usually comes in threes.”

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors rediscovered these portentous axioms July 7 when, for the third time in less than a year, a jury in […]

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Market Forecast for Summer: Cloudy with a Chance of Hardheadedness

A veteran commodity trader once urged me to remember that “People who say the market is wrong are usually on the wrong side of the market.”

That insight, he added, had been learned the hard way, “…as in hardheaded.”

His advice came to mind as the futures market carried its June swoon into the U.S. Department of […]

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