Posted on March 13, 2020
Geography isn’t static. Rivers change course, mountains erode, and islands disappear under rising seas.
The geography of farming and food changes, too. For example, 180 years ago my home county was the castor bean and castor oil capital of the U.S. Both titles, however, slipped into irrelevance as a new resource, crude oil, rose […]
Posted on January 30, 2020
Before the year loses its fresh, youthful promise, let’s look at some recent research to, hopefully, address a nagging problem carried over from 2019.
For months last year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue defended three proposed rule changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will remove an estimated 3.7 million recipients from […]
Posted on December 18, 2019
While many in the U.S. dairy sector focus on why the nation’s largest milk bottler, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy Nov. 12, the smart money—if there is any smart money left after four years of crushingly low milk prices—is focused on what’s next.
What’s next is what’s always next when your business is built on […]
Posted on December 18, 2019
Thanksgiving was the kickoff to a month of bookkeeping, depreciation schedules, and checkbook balancing for my parents on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. It culminated in an afternoon meeting, usually the week after Christmas, where my father would detail the farm’s annual performance to his three, city-dwelling partners and lay out his plans for […]
Posted on November 26, 2019
If China agreed to purchase “$40 to $50 billion” of U.S. farm goods in “the next two years,” as President Donald J. Trump announced Oct. 11, the futures market—where market reality is quickly sorted from political talk—literally wasn’t buying it.
In fact, November soybean futures, the nearby contract, opened Monday, Oct. 14 at $9.405 per bu. and […]
Posted on October 29, 2019
If government and private estimates are accurate, hundreds of millions of American farm acres will have new owners in the next 15 years.
For example, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) survey takers and record keepers, predicts that 100 million acres of today’s farmland will be sold by its current owners by 2023.
Posted on October 16, 2019
Some years ago, I wrote a column on how farm groups sternly preached the value of what they reverently called “sound science” but, in fact, usually endorsed only “science that sounds good” to the groups.
Not coincidentally, I noted, most of that good-sounding science was “science” tied to research bought-and-paid-for by the groups themselves.
Examples of this […]
Posted on August 29, 2019
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 […]
Posted on July 31, 2019
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 […]
Posted on June 5, 2019
It’s a truism in American agriculture that food-growing technology undergoes an industry-shaking metamorphosis every generation.
When Grandpa (both yours and mine) farmed, hybrid seed corn came in and oat-eating horsepower went out. His sons, our fathers, were early adopters of anhydrous ammonia, 2,4-D, and, whoa, combines.
Twenty-five years later, our generational farm-changing moment arrived with […]