Finance

Groundhog Day, Again and Again

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, Christmas in the windshield, and given the glacial pace of key policy decisions awaiting resolution in Washington, D.C., it’s just another Groundhog Day out here in rural America.
Those decisions, after two years of heavy duty do-nothingness, are coming slower than the deadlines faced by this Congress and the new […]

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Quantitative Spinning

Against all odds, economics, the dismal science, has become even more dismal. Since the Great Recession of 2008, what once was equal parts science and art is now equal parts politics and disdain.
What I mean is that nearly every economic report and analysis now comes freighted with political spin and partisan derision. Economic numbers—jobs, exports, […]

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Want Reform? First, Audit.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stunned the cowboy crowd Tues., Sept. 30, when, in a one-sided meeting in his office, he told seven members of the nearly three-years-old beef checkoff reform effort that if they didn’t find common ground soon he might impose a second beef checkoff that would double the annual, non-refundable collections of […]

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The Price of Access? $1.2 Billion

What did individuals and political action committees believe they were buying when, according to Sept. 30 totals compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), they contributed $755.1 million this election cycle to Republican and Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and $415.2 million to Republican and Democratic candidates to the U.S. Senate?
The answer offered […]

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The Carnivore’s Dilemma

If most American followed commodity prices as blindly as they follow the Kardashians, the national dinner menu might well feature bushels of cheaper-by-the-day grains and teaspoons of record-priced pork, beef, poultry and fish.
Call it the revenge of the vegan or (with apologies to author Michael Pollan) the carnivore’s dilemma, but 2014 is fast becoming a […]

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you’re an ag-dependent advertising agency, a commodity organization hired hand, or an ag journalist who can’t do math, commodity checkoffs are a gift that just keeps on giving.
The most recent checkoff gift comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. On Jan. 31, the OIG released a 29-page report on […]

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The triumph of dumb

Somewhere along his long, winding way from Delaware to Indiana to Washington D.C., Bart Chilton picked up a desire for public service, a view that government should serve the powerful and powerless alike and a trusted way to bring people together to write straightforward, fair public policy.
Appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, Chilton […]

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‘Just plain stupid’

In a recent television interview, famed Wall Street investor Warren Buffett characterized the October federal government shut-down as “totally irresponsible” and said the failure of leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to raise the nation’s debt ceiling until moments before possible default was “just plain stupid.”
Unlike most stock market billionaires, Buffett wasn’t talking “his […]

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Cartel capers

There are two reasons to keep up-to-speed on the fast pace of events in what would seem to be the very dull world of potash.
The first reason is that the key players in this once-tightly controlled market continue–at least temporarily–to loose their grip on it. According to analysts’ prices for this key fertilizers could drop […]

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Fixed bayonets

So just what was Congress, and especially, the U.S. House of Representatives, doing when it entered the final week of its high-speed game of chicken with the White House and three out of four Americans who said loudly and clearly that they did not want a government shutdown?
One part of the answer, the political part, […]

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