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Welcome to Paradise, er, Paradox

      There’s an interesting paradox occurring in today’s commodity and financial markets. Maybe you’ve noticed it; market watchers certainly have. Here’s what they’ve seen:

      Every time President Donald J. Trump takes to Twitter to threaten a nation with import tariffs—most recently, Mexico—the U.S. stock market shoots higher.

      Paradoxically, however, every time U.S. Secretary of Agriculture […]

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“A Lick and a Promise” Aren’t Enough

      Most American farmers spent the last week of May and the first week of June either driving through mud or stuck in it. Their two farming partners, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam, were little help; one brought threats of more rain and mud, the other threats of more tariffs and bailouts.

      Farmers in my […]

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Mitigation Money Should Fuel the Market; Not the Trade War

      The month of May left as it arrived: riding in a rowboat from flooded farm field to flooded farm field across the Midwest. Worse, June is sloshing in with more rain, more mud, and more worry.

      Complicating an already complicated spring, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a broad, new scheme that could pay U.S. farmers up […]

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Stand Up or Step Aside

      Sanford Bishop and Sonny Perdue go way back.

      So far back that Bishop, now a 14-term, Democratic congressman from south Georgia, remembers when Perdue, now the Secretary of Agriculture under President Donald J. Trump, was a Democrat.

      Their friendship, however, was tested April 9 when Perdue appeared before the House Appropriations ag subcommittee to […]

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Sonny Warned ‘Em–Twice, In Fact

It’s Thanksgiving week, so let’s be generous: The White House trade policy, marked by its heavy use of import tariffs and presidential tweets, continues to confound economists and trading partners alike.
A more accurate, less generous view of President Donald J. Trump’s trade policy would declare it an unhinged mess that has led to a dark, […]

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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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It’s Hard to Tell: Is it 2018 or 2012 or Worse?

Every July, Congress begins to pack its collective bag to escape the scorching heat and suffocating humidity of Capitol Hill. And that’s just inside the Senate and House; outside it’s even worse.
Trapped in this year’s pressure cooker is the 2018 Farm Bill. While the Senate and House each passed their versions earlier this summer, neither […]

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If It’s Not Broken…

Farmers and ranchers are a resourceful lot. Their widespread reputation for fixing almost anything anywhere—often with little more than baling wire and spit—is well-earned and greatly admired.
One thing these masters of the mechanical don’t do, however, is fix what isn’t broken. No farmer or rancher wastes either sweat or bubble gum on tires that aren’t […]

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You’re Getting Warmer…

In a White House Rose Garden ceremony June 1, President Donald J. Trump announced he would pull the U.S. from the Paris treaty on global climate change. It was a matter of national sovereignty, explained Trump.
Or, as he colorfully noted, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
True, but he was elected […]

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The Artlessness of the Deal

What Trump Administration appointees lack in reticence they make up for in certitude. Take Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Just two weeks after being shown his stately office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) South Building, Perdue announced a major makeover of it: he invoked a 2014 Farm Bill directive to create a new USDA […]

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