U.S. History

Too Much Money, Too Much Drift, Too Much Grift

The federal government can spend more money in 10 minutes than Congress, its watchdog, can track in 10 years. Still, Congressional oversight–as late and limited as it often is–remains a vital element of government.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis proved just how vital in two reports released in October: Tens of millions in […]

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Mother Nature Doesn’t Do ‘Net Zero’

One rainy November day 20 or so years ago, the lovely Catherine and I were hopelessly lost in the streets and lanes of Glasgow, Scotland while searching for an art museum. By the time we finally conceded defeat and hailed a taxi to take us there, we were soaked, shivering, and couldn’t have cared less […]

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Cresting the Wave, Looking Into Next Year’s Trough

There’s no good time for bad news. Most farmers and ranchers, however, prefer to hear it sooner than later to factor it into the day or season’s plan.

Maybe that’s why our good friends at farmdocDaily, the online consortium of Land Grant extension specialists hosted by the University of Illinois, released a “Stress Test of 2022 Crop […]

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Running with the Big Deere

In an effort to maintain its enviable, 34-year run of labor peace, Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers recently announced a deal to boost worker pay–by 20 percent over five and six years, Deere said–to keep the iconic green-and-yellow machines rolling off its 11 assembly lines and through its three distribution centers.

The manufacturing […]

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Friday Night Lights

Every farm kid who grew up before the change-everything 1970s changed almost everything will recall Friday evenings meant quick chores, a quick supper, and a family night in town.

Back then, nearly every store in nearly every rural community remained open for business until 9 p.m. on Fridays so everyone–but mostly farm families–could shop, stroll the storefronts, or just visit […]

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Hey, Genius, Mind Your Own Business

It’s a rare honor to be named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. In fact, in 40 years, only 1,061 Americans have been awarded the title and the no-strings-attached stipend, this year a plush $625,000, commonly referred to as a “genius grant.”

Even more rare are MacArthur Fellows with ties to farming and food. Before this year, only […]

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Death Taxes: Only for the One Percenters

Most Americans know there are three, unalterable facts of life: death, taxes, and farmers howling about “death taxes.”

And just between you and me, there’s an-oft whispered, rarely acknowledged fourth fact of life: Nearly every farm leader knows there’s no such thing as a “death tax”–federal taxes due upon death–for 99 percent of all farmers.

That’s not an opinion; […]

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The Old Economics of New Agriculture: Drive or Be Driven

A recent, number-laden bulletin posted on the University of Illinois website farmdoc daily caught my attention for two reasons.

First, its data, drawn mostly from several U.S. Census of Agriculture, paints a troubling picture of U.S. agriculture today. More importantly, that picture suggests American ag policy needs to make “strategic” changes to meet new challenges–climate change and new […]

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Four Books That Reach for the Heart, Mind, and Immortality

Writers write, according to some poet, to make themselves immortal. True or not, it was true for that writer because that’s an unforgettable, maybe even immortal, line.

Most times, however, writers write out of compulsion; they see a story that needs to be told and they grab some paper and verbs to tell it. Below are […]

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Ethanol’s Future is Running Out of Gas

The key ingredients for a looming crack-up in ethanol–the fast rise of electric vehicles, lukewarm politics, and more evidence of catastrophic climate change–are in place and few in U.S. ag policy circles are prepared to face that reality.

In fact, none of those woes are new; they’ve been building for years.

For example, the Trump Administration’s almost carte […]

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