Posted on September 23, 2021
To say the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) biggest environmental program, the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, is at a crossroads is like saying climate change might be a problem.
After all, the phrase “climate change” understates today’s dilemma until, for example, you learn that 47 percent of the continental U.S. is now in drought, 2.7 […]
Posted on August 27, 2021
Twenty-five years ago, when almost every American farm and ranch organization was denying the existence of climate change, William E. Rees and a colleague developed a method to measure how much “nature” was required to support a people or an economy. They called that measurement an “ecological footprint.”
That science–ecological economics, Rees’s career specialty at the […]
Posted on June 11, 2021
Shortly after America’s largest private farmland owners, Microsoft billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates, acknowledged their pending divorce, some wag on Twitter wondered what might be the appropriate time to wait before he approached the soon-to-be-former missus to ask about renting some of her farmland.
While he was joking, it’s no joke that the about-to-split pair […]
Posted on May 13, 2021
With the wave of a wand, you’re the boss of the Farm Credit System (FCS). You manage a portfolio of 592,000 ag-related customers holding 946,119 loans totaling $315 billion—$113 billion in real estate debt alone—according to Dec. 2020 FCS data.
Those numbers keep most people up at night but you sleep like a baby because your staff […]
Posted on January 2, 2020
After 38 years in journalism, some events still cause shock. Many center on public officials holding private meetings where a “just-us-insiders” intimacy affords all a “better understanding”—read total control—of their policy initiatives.
Sorry (not sorry), but public policy doesn’t work that way. There’s no room for secrecy when public officials spend public money to […]
Posted on July 24, 2019
Call it what you will—coincidence, chance or just bad luck—but on the very day that President Donald J. Trump defended his Administration’s almost indefensible record on the environment, the Washington, D. C. metro area was deluged by rainfall not seen since Noah.
In fact, so much rain fell so fast on the nation’s capital […]
Posted on April 10, 2019
If the ballot box is the ultimate source of power in the United States, then voters in Toledo, Ohio, used that power Feb. 26 to create what’s now being called a “Bill of Rights” for their wide, blue neighbor, Lake Erie.
That vote, if it withstands court challenges (one was filed immediately after the referendum […]
Posted on December 12, 2018
Years ago, an enterprising neighbor operated a palm reading business from her home with just a secretary, fax machine, and telephone. Her business model was simple: After clients faxed their photocopied handprint and sent some form of payment (rumor had it was $20), our neighbor telephoned them with the results of the “reading.”
While no one […]
Posted on November 14, 2018
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, […]
Posted on October 31, 2018
“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 […]