U.S. History

Election Year Crazy, Sure, But This Is Way Beyond Crazy

Just when you think 2020 can’t possibly get any crazier, autumn arrives with a carload of crazy in tow.

For example, does any farmer or rancher really know what the White House’s recently announced additional $14 billion in ag bailout money is intended to address that the previous $37.2 billion didn’t address?

      That’s an honest question because we […]

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We’re Not Very Good Students Even When We’re Given the Answers

If experience is the best teacher, then surely we have learned a few important, unforgettable lessons in this otherwise forgettable year.

      If it isn’t a good teacher or we are uncaring students, then we’ve squandered most of the year, over $4 trillion, and almost 200,000 lives on lessons still needing to be learned.

      That’s not […]

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Sixty Days Until the Farm and Food World Shakes

In March 1919, John Reed, an American journalist, published Ten Days that Shook the World, his eyewitness book on one of the new century’s most defining events, the Russian Revolution.

      Eighty years later, Reed’s groundbreaking work was still shaking the world. New York University ranked it seventh on its list of the 20th century’s 100 most consequential works. […]

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‘How Much Evidence Do You Need to Vaporize a Zombie?’

      While “zombie ideas” isn’t a phrase you often see in farm publications, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has popularized it to describe a uniquely American political condition.

      Zombie ideas, the 2008 Nobel winner in economics explained in a 2018 column, are “ideas that should have died long ago, yet still keep shambling along, eating politicians’ brains.”

      That […]

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Ahead of Her–And Our–Times a Century Ago

My grandmother was both a woman of her times and a woman far ahead of even our times. For example, today’s electric cars would be a yawn for her; she rode in them “before the war.”

      World War I, that is. Grandma (her given name was Ruth) was born in 1902 and lived 86 active […]

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The Third Time Might Not Be the Charm

It turns out that the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” is neither Chinese nor a curse.

      According to multiple sources, the adage’s roots reach back to a late-19th century member of Parliament commenting on how Great Britain’s expanding empire had made for “interesting times.”

      True enough for the empire’s builders; not so […]

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Twenty-Four Miles of Bad Spending, Bad Policy, Bad Ideas

      One trillion is one thousand billion or one million million. In money terms, $1 trillion is a stack of $100 bills 631 miles high.

      Now consider that the three coronavirus relief bills already approved by Congress will collectively spend about $3 trillion, or a $100-bill stack 1,893 miles high.

      But wait, Congress isn’t done. Its […]

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We Don’t Even Choose ‘Herd Immunity’ for Livestock

Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.

      It was hard, dirty work but […]

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Public Investment Needs to Return Public Good

      If the ill-tempered and deadly first half of 2020 had been a first-calf heifer on the dairy farm of my youth, my father would have ticketed it for the freezer a month ago.

      His yardstick of heifer potential was short: If she lived up to her breeding, she was a “keeper;” if she “put more on […]

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Finding New Ground

      Some observers see the Black Lives Matter movement as a tidal wave washing away America’s original sin, slavery, and the systemic racism it fostered for more than 400 years.

      Maybe, but as the last 75 years of the American civil rights movement has proven time and again—and often in blood—rooting out hatred requires more […]

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