Rural America

Time’s Reluctant Elders

      On an April Sunday afternoon a year ago, the last ancestral connection to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was severed when my mother died quietly and peacefully.

      Her passing, quickly followed by her sister’s death, means that this Easter will be the first Easter in the last 64 that I will not be […]

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Unlocking the Rural Economy Requires Different Keys

Of all the places you’d expect to see a fight between the cold, hard face of ag economics and the warm, tender heart of rural America, that place would not be the corner of West 41st St. and Eighth Avenue in New York City, the home of the New York Times.

      And yet there it was in […]

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Corporations Have Rights; Why Not a Lake?

If the ballot box is the ultimate source of power in the United States, then voters in Toledo, Ohio, used that power Feb. 26 to create what’s now being called a “Bill of Rights” for their wide, blue neighbor, Lake Erie.

      That vote, if it withstands court challenges (one was filed immediately after the referendum […]

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If You Want to See the Future, You Need to Look Ahead

To most farmers and ranchers, “sustainable” is a word that, like exercise or vacation, has a dictionary definition and a personal definition. The difference between the two, however, often is the difference between the county fair and the World’s Fair.

      These folks aren’t alone. Almost everyone and everything from commodity groups to coal companies make […]

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In the Long Run It’s, Well, a Long Run

One of the oldest theoretical constructions in economics declares that in a perfect market, short term profits and losses eventually even out so that, in the long term, all profits are zero.

      Famed 20th century English economist John Maynard Keynes gets credit for restating this jargon-rich theory into clear, concise language when, in 1923, he wrote, […]

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Knives, Forks, and Farmers Favor Immigration Reform

When Internal Revenue Service (IRS) workers returned to their jobs Jan. 28 after the recent, 35-day government shutdown, an estimated five million pieces of unopened mail awaited.

      Equally daunting, the shutdown coincided with the IRS’s hiring of its annual army of temporary workers to process the impending tax season’s mail. The delay now leaves the […]

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“Fair and Balanced” Reader Mail Round-Up

Tweeter-in-Chief, President Donald J. Trump, has been quite clear in his opinion of CNN, the cable television news network. Indeed, Trump’s despise of the network—he thinks its initials stand for Certainly Not News—encourages supporters to use “CNN” as a slander.
For example, when a reader of this weekly effort sends an email that includes the sentence […]

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Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving

The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered the farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby wood stove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves in the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.
“I believe this […]

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Brother, Can You Spare a Cup of Water?

Humanity depends on three critical threes: Without oxygen, most humans will die within three minutes; without water, life expectancy is three days; without food, we’ve got three weeks.
Few Americans give three seconds of thought to any of these life-ensuring elements because, here, food is safe and plentiful, air quality laws are in place and enforced, […]

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The Road to Perdition Always Leads South

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers.
Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments while […]

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