Special Interests

The People’s Department–For the Time Being

An early hallmark of the Trump Administration’s management of American farm policy is its uncanny ability to pick fights that are as costly to win as they are to lose.
For example, even if the President’s import tariff plans succeed, how many ag exports will American farmers lose before the White House declares victory and moves […]

Read More

Meet Your New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

The only Washington, D.C. area team having a worse year than the Baltimore Orioles, an awful 34-78 on Aug. 6, is big food’s biggest, richest lobbying arm, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, or the GMA.
Most American farmers and ranchers don’t know GMA by its acronym; they do, however, know its work: it was the organizer and […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

America’s Farming Soul

Sometimes it’s even hard for me to believe what I read in the newspaper. The latest “someone-really-said-that?” moment arrived courtesy of The Milkweed, the sharp-penned, monthly dairy newspaper owned and edited by Peter Hardin in Brooklyn, WI.
In its July 2018 edition, Milkweed writer Jan Shepel highlighted the controversy fueled by Marin Bozic, a dairy foods […]

Read More

It’s Hard to Tell: Is it 2018 or 2012 or Worse?

Every July, Congress begins to pack its collective bag to escape the scorching heat and suffocating humidity of Capitol Hill. And that’s just inside the Senate and House; outside it’s even worse.
Trapped in this year’s pressure cooker is the 2018 Farm Bill. While the Senate and House each passed their versions earlier this summer, neither […]

Read More

The Forgotten Lessons of the “Carter Embargo”

Once, when walking across the Charles Bridge in Prague, a friend asked if I knew the story behind the stunning, 14th century marvel under our feet. No, I replied, mostly because my education did not require much European history.
“Then,” my friend replied, “you are not educated.”
It wasn’t snobbery; it was a fact. Most Americans not […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Make ZTE Great Again

If you think writing a farm bill makes for strange bedfellows, just look at who’s allied against President Donald J. Trump’s up-and-down trade talks with China: the deeply conservative Wall Street Journal and the decidedly undecided Financial Times, or FT.
On May 8, FT’s Martin Wolf described America’s “draft framework” guiding U.S-China trade talks earlier that […]

Read More

The Winning Losers

There’s something fundamentally wrong with a legislative process that delivers a Farm Bill so deeply flawed that groups as politically diverse as the ruby red Heritage Foundation and the ocean blue Environmental Working Group (EWG) join forces to publicly condemn it.
And yet on May 8, EWG’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber moderated […]

Read More