Finance

Nowhere to Hide at Low Tide

Mega-billionaire Warren Buffett has a well-deserved reputation as a genius “value investor” and pithy commentator. His annual reports to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are highly anticipated for their market insight and expressive language, and often make news because of both.

For example, one of Buffett’s most quoted sayings colorfully explains that “You only find out who’s swimming […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

New Signs of Apocalypse: War, Famine, and Davos Man

On the very week the United States marked its one millionth Covid death and anxious American parents awaited a military airlift for baby formula, Davos Man, he of the pinstriped master-of-the-universe class, emerged from his bulletproof, bombproof office to report all was well in the world of intergalactic finance and handmade shoes.

Well, kinda’ sorta’ well.

There […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Global Food Chains Face More Uncertainty, More Instability

For the second time in two years, a history-making calamity has shown just how fragile the world’s efficiency-driven, deeply interdependent food system is.

Two years ago, a rampaging pandemic threatened America’s pantries. Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens supplies of key ag inputs like fuel and fertilizer while causing deep disruptions to global wheat, corn, and […]

Read More

“Broken Systems Raise Costs Far Faster Than Resilient Ones”

One of the most beautiful–and inexplicable–aspects of economics is how its practitioners never seem to be wrong.

Indeed, almost every school of economic thought, from John Maynard Keynes’ demand-driven economics on the left to Arthur Laffer’s supply-side economics on the right, is crowded with disciples defending their leader’s theories and just often, if subtly, attacking their […]

Read More

Smarm, Snarl, and Snark Can’t Replace Facts, Honesty, and Ideas

As deep winter reasserted itself over most of the nation’s farms and ranches, the New York Times brought some real heat to the Big-Ag-Fights-Climate-Change debate.

In a 14-minute, fast-paced video titled “Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet,” the film’s subtitle not only names the killers, it convicts them, too: “American agriculture is ravaging the air, […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More