Special Interests

Why Does Monsanto Want Syngenta?

On the mid-1970s, southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, we viewed Monsanto Co.’s new, systemic weed killer, Roundup, as a miracle cure to our biggest perennial headache, Johnson grass, the hard-to-kill weed still listed as one of the 10 worst weeds in U.S. agriculture.
The new herbicide wasn’t cheap–$70 per gallon, if memory serves—but it […]

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Birds of a Feather

While my family never subsisted on the deer, doves, quail, ducks, and geese that shared the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth with us, we did enjoy a noon meal of rabbit or squirrel several times a year.
It wasn’t until I became a journalist, however, that I tasted crow.
Yes, crow. You know, the big […]

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Storm Brewing

As daylight faded, the growing, mid-August thunderstorm chased us eastward across the Kansas plains. In the rearview mirror, it looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz, a rolling mass of perfect fury.
Finally, just as we parked under the covered driveway of chain hotel in Russell about 9 pm, the storm caught us in […]

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Nature’s Calling; Anyone Listening?

Question: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Answer: Neither; both arrived after a qualified veterinarian declared their farm disease-free following a complete depopulation because of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI.
It’s no joke.
On June 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that 192 “detections” of […]

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Got Guts? Bet on TPP

Let’s go out on a small limb and make a big prediction: Not only will the U.S. Senate vote to give this president and the next one fast track trade authority, so too will the U.S. House of Representatives.
Moreover, and since we’re already on the limb, here are two more predictions: First, both the House […]

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American Exceptionalism–Except for What We Grow

In the chaos that surrounded Congress leaving Washington, D.C. for a flag-waving Memorial Day holiday, your House Ag Committee found time May 20 to vote to kill Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL, for beef, pork, and chicken sold in the U.S.
If you carnivores out here are keeping score, the Ag Committee vote was the […]

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Big Food’s Baloney

Sysco Corporation may not be a topic of dinner conversation most evenings anywhere in the U.S. but it is what many Americans are having for dinner—and lunch and breakfast—almost any day everywhere in America.
You may not have heard of Sysco, but you’ve seen ‘em.
Ever pull up to a local fast or fast casual restaurant, nearby […]

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OK, When?

Spring is warmer days, blooming daffodils, and blue horizons. It’s also a good time to tap the season’s new energy and fresh hope to honestly discuss some of farming and food’s most pressing issues.
For example, global energy companies now spend more than $500 billion a year exploring for new oil, natural gas, and coal. At […]

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Oink If It Smells Like Free Trade

Here’s what everybody knows about Paul Krugman: The openly partisan, twice-weekly columnist for the New York Times won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
Here’s what hardly anyone knows about Paul Krugman: The fiercely liberal Democrat and an unrepentant Keynesian is an avowed supporter of free trade.
No way, right? Oh yeah, way.
In fact, some […]

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The Numbers Never Add Up

There’s little mystery to why many Americans distrust Congress: the numbers its members offer as hard facts are often exposed as pure fiction.
Take the numbers offered recently by Rep. Aaron Schock, the Illinois Republican who resigned his House seat, effective March 31, “following revelations of lavish spending, payments to donors for flights on private jets […]

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