Posted on October 7, 2020
In March 1919, John Reed, an American journalist, published Ten Days that Shook the World, his eyewitness book on one of the new century’s most defining events, the Russian Revolution.
Eighty years later, Reed’s groundbreaking work was still shaking the world. New York University ranked it seventh on its list of the 20th century’s 100 most consequential works. […]
Posted on September 30, 2020
While “zombie ideas” isn’t a phrase you often see in farm publications, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has popularized it to describe a uniquely American political condition.
Zombie ideas, the 2008 Nobel winner in economics explained in a 2018 column, are “ideas that should have died long ago, yet still keep shambling along, eating politicians’ brains.”
Posted on September 3, 2020
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 […]
Posted on August 6, 2020
While most county and state fairs are Covid casualties this year, a giant, buzzing Ferris wheel—America’s relationship with China—continues to spin at such a dizzying pace that, sooner or later, it will break to harm riders and bystanders alike.
While that idea may fly in the face of current beliefs, it doesn’t fly in […]
Posted on July 23, 2020
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 […]
Posted on July 6, 2020
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 […]
Posted on June 10, 2020
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 […]
Posted on May 27, 2020
Before we take the next unsteady step into a very different future, let’s make sure it’s a step up the ladder and not a step off the plank.
How? We can start with disciplined decision making: Use proven facts, lean on practical experience, and focus like a laser on what is safe and smart.
Posted on May 13, 2020
One reason—there were others—for my departure from farm magazine writing was laughter. Let me explain.
In the early-1980s, the world, like now, was headed to hell in a hurry and agriculture was leading the parade. U.S. interest rates were a crushing 14 percent, farmland prices were on their way to plunging 40 percent in just five […]
Posted on April 30, 2020
There’s a brittle beauty to this year’s spring. Amid the swaying daffodils, cotton clouds, and already roaring tractors and dust-shaking planters hides a deadly virus with a special fondness for those of us in rural America.
In fact, rural America is perfectly primed for Covid-19, according to any epidemiologist worth their student loans. The virus […]