Finance

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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‘A Fool’s Errand for U.S. Policymakers’

While U.S. farmers and ranchers spent August fretting over escalating tariffs and retreating markets, two ag policy experts used the month to publish a series of five columns that artfully—and courageously—skinned most of agriculture’s sacred cows even as they planted new policy ideas for farm and ranch success.
(All five columns are posted at www.agpolicy.org/articles18.htm under […]

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The Carrot, The Stick, and You

The Trump Administration’s good cop/bad cop approach to U.S. trade policy was on full display Aug. 27 when President Donald J. Trump, the bad cop that day, announced a very incomplete NAFTA trade deal—fueled by his heavy use of tariffs—that pointedly excluded Canada.
(NAFTA, or Nafta, is the North American Free Trade Agreement now under renegotiation […]

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Checkbooks, Guns, and Baloney

The day U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the White House plan to spread $12 billion of taxpayer salve on its festering tariff wound, November soybean futures ended their day completely unimpressed—down a sleepy 2.5 cents.
Farmers echoed the market reaction; they, too, were unimpressed with the bailout. “Trade, not aid,” was their polite, but […]

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When Trump Starts Tweeting, Sonny Starts Packing

      Prince Edward Island, caressed in eastern Canada’s provincial arms of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is a lovely place to visit in June. Its sparkling red sand beaches, miles of white-blossomed potato fields, and rolling carpets of lush pasture form a color-soaked postcard for tourists and locals alike.
      U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue caught a […]

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Tanning Cowboys’ Hides

Forty years ago Waylon and Willie asked the nation’s mamas not to “let your babies grow up to be cowboys” because “… they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone, even with someone they love.”
That sage advice is even more true after a spring cattle market that’s been too wild to forget and too brutal […]

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Wisdom Should Come with Age

In May 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus, a Pole living in Prussia, published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, a book that used mathematics and astronomy to postulate how the earth and the then-known planets rotated on their own axes as they orbited a stationary sun. Within days of its printing, however, Copernicus died.
His theory of […]

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Faking It

While we watch the cat-juggling carnival that is Washington, D.C. these days, real fake news experts—yes, there are experts in real fake news—are artfully mixing fact with myth to influence how Big Biotech’s mergers and buyouts play out in American agriculture.
The biggest merger, Dow and DuPont’s $150-billion hook-up, was completed last August. Another big one, […]

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Productive Purpose

It was an inarguable fact on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth that there was no earthly reason my grandfather, one of the farm’s principal owners, would ever borrow money from any bank, person or company.
It wasn’t because he feared debt; he didn’t. As a St. Louis-based bond broker for almost 40 years, […]

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This is Crazy, Right?

You’re pretty sharp; tell me if this makes sense.
Right now, the cotton and dairy lobbies are pushing Congress to pass an additional $1 billion of federal farm spending by attaching not-yet agreed upon language to a must-pass $81 billion disaster relief bill that promises aid to long-suffering Americans overwhelmed by rain, wind, fire, and mud.
And, […]

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