Archives

The “Chinese Century” Looks Like the “Chinese Decade”

      While most county and state fairs are Covid casualties this year, a giant, buzzing Ferris wheel—America’s relationship with China—continues to spin at such a dizzying pace that, sooner or later, it will break to harm riders and bystanders alike.

      While that idea may fly in the face of current beliefs, it doesn’t fly in […]

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Sometimes the Hardest Thing to Do is Nothing; Let’s Do it

Mid-July was always summer’s sweet spot on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.

      With June’s rush of sweaty work—wheat harvest, straw baling, laying corn by, cultivating soybeans, and weed spraying—finally complete and before another cutting of alfalfa was ready, mid-July slipped in with treats like fresh peaches, sweet corn, and juicy garden tomatoes.

      Mid-July also […]

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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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This Bloody Business

      If you’ve ever butchered anything from a rabbit to a hog—and butchered is the right word, not the bleached “harvested”—you know there will be blood. Butchering, after all, is a bloody business.

      While 95 percent of Americans are carnivores, it’s a safe bet that nearly 99.9 percent of them haven’t thought much about where […]

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We Have to Start Somewhere

      Before we take the next unsteady step into a very different future, let’s make sure it’s a step up the ladder and not a step off the plank.

      How? We can start with disciplined decision making: Use proven facts, lean on practical experience, and focus like a laser on what is safe and smart.

      […]

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Laughter Is No Longer the Best Medicine

      One reason—there were others—for my departure from farm magazine writing was laughter. Let me explain.

      In the early-1980s, the world, like now, was headed to hell in a hurry and agriculture was leading the parade. U.S. interest rates were a crushing 14 percent, farmland prices were on their way to plunging 40 percent in just five […]

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Hey, Didn’t Rural America Invent ‘Social Distancing’?

There’s a brittle beauty to this year’s spring. Amid the swaying daffodils, cotton clouds, and already roaring tractors and dust-shaking planters hides a deadly virus with a special fondness for those of us in rural America.

      In fact, rural America is perfectly primed for Covid-19, according to any epidemiologist worth their student loans. The virus […]

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The World is Changing, Why Haven’t We?

Coronavirus, a farmer in a recent news story noted, “is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

      It may feel that way now but, honestly, that back-breaking straw hit the camel decades ago when the nation’s top agricultural, academic, and political leaders embraced dollar-driven efficiency over safety-centered resiliency as the overarching goal of American farm policy.

      We […]

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Prepare for the Worst, Pray for the Best

      Despite overwhelming evidence from literally every corner of the world, a farmer friend recently related to me that three—not one, not two, but three—rural acquaintances had assured him that “this whole virus thing is just a big hoax to bring down Trump.”

      If so, worldwide there’s more than 25,000 graves, over a half million […]

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February’s Paradox, March’s Struggles

February is a paradox. Leap Year or not, it’s the shortest month of the year yet it always feels like the longest month of winter. Endless gray skies bleed into endless gray days into an almost endless gray month.

      Then March appears with its light, color, and hope and February’s dreariness is soon forgotten.

      Light, […]

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