Rural America

Before Silage Season, The Hand-Me-Down Season

      Sometime in mid-August, well after fair season and just before corn silage season, my brothers and I endured the hand-me-down season on the southern Illinois dairy farm of our youth.

      It was just as you suspect. One morning some weeks before school began, my mother watched as we tried on our next older brother’s clothes to […]

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Summer Fun with August Numbers

      Ag Twitter had a big sandbox to play in after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) clobbered the agricultural futures markets Aug. 12 with its number-filled Crop Report and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE.

      The updated numbers—planted acreage, estimated production, and projected usage—hit the market like a hailstorm. Corn futures snapped […]

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Down the Primrose Path

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the yellow roses along the primrose path are dazzling distractions from what, in a matter of days, has already been a long month for farmers and ranchers.

      Worse, a long harvest and bitter winter also loom as President Donald J. Trump threatens even tougher trade sanctions […]

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Dog Days Mean Letting it Lie

      On the farms of our youths, the dog days of August featured actual dogs and not a whole lot of anything else.

      Given the unsettled state of today’s growing season, commodity markets, and politics, maybe the best way to get through this August is to slide back to that era and just not say […]

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Doing Your Civic Duty. Or not.

      Look out, rural America, Congress is headed your way during its annual month-long break in August and its members want to talk trade, trade, and trade.

      They don’t, however, want to talk about America’s flagging 2019 ag exports or the still-in-place, retaliatory tariffs that are clipping U.S. exports.

      No, rural America’s almost entirely Republican […]

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“Mother Nature Always Bats Last”

      Call it what you will—coincidence, chance or just bad luck—but on the very day that President Donald J. Trump defended his Administration’s almost indefensible record on the environment, the Washington, D. C. metro area was deluged by rainfall not seen since Noah.

      In fact, so much rain fell so fast on the nation’s capital […]

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Ag Has Bigger Problems Than Weather, Trade, Bailouts…

      When you’ve been in the ag journalism game for almost 40 years, few things surprise you. Floods, droughts, market crack-ups, political crockery, price fixing: none of it is shocking anymore.

      And, yet, on June 21, the Washington Post published a farm-based story that made even this graybeard marvel at how tone deaf and superior-sounding rural politics has […]

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The Bum’s Rush, USDA Style

      U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue doesn’t need to hit the road this summer to find more than enough messy problems to keep him busy through harvest.

      There’s the Chinese trade mess, the NAFTA 2.0 trade mess, the European Union trade mess, and the Japanese trade mess.

      Also, there’s the mess Mother Nature made […]

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Welcome to Paradise, er, Paradox

      There’s an interesting paradox occurring in today’s commodity and financial markets. Maybe you’ve noticed it; market watchers certainly have. Here’s what they’ve seen:

      Every time President Donald J. Trump takes to Twitter to threaten a nation with import tariffs—most recently, Mexico—the U.S. stock market shoots higher.

      Paradoxically, however, every time U.S. Secretary of Agriculture […]

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“A Lick and a Promise” Aren’t Enough

      Most American farmers spent the last week of May and the first week of June either driving through mud or stuck in it. Their two farming partners, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam, were little help; one brought threats of more rain and mud, the other threats of more tariffs and bailouts.

      Farmers in my […]

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