U.S. History

Brother, Can You Spare a Cup of Water?

Humanity depends on three critical threes: Without oxygen, most humans will die within three minutes; without water, life expectancy is three days; without food, we’ve got three weeks.
Few Americans give three seconds of thought to any of these life-ensuring elements because, here, food is safe and plentiful, air quality laws are in place and enforced, […]

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The Road to Perdition Always Leads South

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers.
Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments while […]

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A Cautionary Note from Sand County

“February” is one of the finest essays in Sand County Almanac, the 1949 book of superlative essays on nature and mankind’s role in it, by forester and conservationist Aldo Leopold. In it, Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology, tells the history of his Wisconsin “sand farm” and its natural “community” as he and a friend […]

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Sometimes You Get What You Vote For

Farmers and ranchers spent most of last month hoping the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent crop estimates would be proven wrong and President Donald J. Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.
September, however, disappointed them on both counts.
On Sept. 12, USDA reported that the already big 2018 […]

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Tell Me If You’ve Heard This Before

Truisms don’t need to be completely true to be a truism. For example, “If you live long enough, you’ll see everything” doesn’t mean you will see everything if you live a long life. You may see a great deal, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see “everything.”
Simone de Beauvoir, a French novelist and existentialist, turned that […]

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‘A Fool’s Errand for U.S. Policymakers’

While U.S. farmers and ranchers spent August fretting over escalating tariffs and retreating markets, two ag policy experts used the month to publish a series of five columns that artfully—and courageously—skinned most of agriculture’s sacred cows even as they planted new policy ideas for farm and ranch success.
(All five columns are posted at www.agpolicy.org/articles18.htm under […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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All Mud, No Zen

Success in sports, business, and politics requires skilled leaders who know their jobs and know how to fold disparate talents and personalities into something greater than the logical sum of its parts.
Take Phil Jackson, a North Dakota high school basketball star, who coached two different teams to 11 National Basketball Association championships between 1991 and […]

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