U.S. History

Slouching Toward 2014

In this space on Feb. 2, 2014, I offered a blunt assessment of the just-passed (and still current) Farm Bill and its key handler, Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican who was chairman of the House Ag Committee.
In particular, I criticized Lucas’s description of the legislation that he and his Senate counterpart, Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, […]

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Rising Woe in Rural America

The gap between America’s rural poor and non-poor, like in urban America, continues to widen. The difference in rural America, however, is that the gap is widening faster than in any of the nation’s grittiest cities or suburban counties.
That’s the conclusion of two recent reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University […]

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A Plan or An Obit

Five hundred years ago this week, a German theologian nailed a sheet of 95 statements, or theses, to a church door in Saxony in hopes of starting a debate to reform the church he loved. But Martin Luther’s hammer didn’t spur debate; it sparked a wildfire that changed the world.
That’s the thing about reformers; once […]

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Men in Black

Play, watch or listen to any baseball game and, sooner than later, what you thought was a strike will be called a ball, or vice versa, by the home plate umpire.
Most times, it’s not a big deal. There are, after all, hundreds of pitches in any game and the balls and strikes called by the […]

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Let Me Translate

No one you know says “grain” when they mean “soybeans” or “John Deere” when they mean “tractor.”
Of course, you might get away with these vague and misleading substitutes when talking to the non-farming public because most people don’t know soybeans are an oilseed, not a grain, and that Deere & Co. makes a lot more […]

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We Need to Talk

It’s August and that means much of Congress is, literally, either out of session, out of the country or out to lunch. That doesn’t mean, however, some of its more diligent members aren’t somehow serving the public.
Take the House Ag Committee. (Please.) A handful of its 46 members will attend three Farm Bill “Conversations in […]

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March Madness

If only Julius Caesar had listened to the soothsayer who, in plain Latin, warned him, “Beware of the Ides of March.” Instead, the powerful, arrogant Roman tweeted, er, complained, “He is a Dreamer, let us leave him.”
And leave Caesar did—forever—on the Ides of March 44 B.C.
Someone should have given American farmers, ranchers, and rural residents […]

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If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

Truth, civility, and honesty took a hard beating in the brutal 2016 election season but global trade, the campaign’s daily whipping boy, actually grew in the July-September quarter.
Moreover, reports the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an international group that tracks trade, the late summer surge means global trade “may rise over the year […]

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Dwayne Andreas, The FBI, and Me

Dwayne Orville Andreas, the pocket hurricane that built a sleepy soybean processor, Archer Daniels Midland Co., into a global giant, died Wednesday, Nov. 16, in a Decatur, IL hospital. He was 98.
Andreas’s career was as long and profitable as it was remarkable and jaded. Just last week someone again asked me if it was true […]

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Here We Are

To more than a few Americans, the phrase “President-elect Donald Trump” is as incomprehensible as “World Champion Chicago Cubs.”
Worse, these deniers only deepen their denial on being told (and retold) that, yes, the Cubs won the Series and, in fact, Donald Trump was elected president Nov. 8. These inconsolables continue to take Trump’s victory as […]

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