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The Plan is No Plan

      You know you’re deep in the rabbit hole when bad news—say, a government report that shows steep cuts in anticipated 2019 crop yields—is good news because it will hopefully boost prices. Conversely, when good news arrives, like an unexpected week of perfect September weather, it’s actually bad news because it just drags already low […]

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The Enemy of My Enemy Remains an Enemy

Most rural Americans are old enough to remember when their president noted  that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

      That was, after all, several tariff hikes, dozens of trade meetings, and more than 15,000 presidential tweets ago. It may seem like a lifetime but it was just 19 months ago, on March 2, […]

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Down the Primrose Path

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the yellow roses along the primrose path are dazzling distractions from what, in a matter of days, has already been a long month for farmers and ranchers.

      Worse, a long harvest and bitter winter also loom as President Donald J. Trump threatens even tougher trade sanctions […]

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Doing Your Civic Duty. Or not.

      Look out, rural America, Congress is headed your way during its annual month-long break in August and its members want to talk trade, trade, and trade.

      They don’t, however, want to talk about America’s flagging 2019 ag exports or the still-in-place, retaliatory tariffs that are clipping U.S. exports.

      No, rural America’s almost entirely Republican […]

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The Bum’s Rush, USDA Style

      U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue doesn’t need to hit the road this summer to find more than enough messy problems to keep him busy through harvest.

      There’s the Chinese trade mess, the NAFTA 2.0 trade mess, the European Union trade mess, and the Japanese trade mess.

      Also, there’s the mess Mother Nature made […]

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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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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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“It Was Like Watching a Train Wreck Happen”

No one I know has ever witnessed a train wreck as it happened. As such, when a friend or colleague says or writes that an event “was like watching a train wreck happen,” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t like watching a train wreck happen.

      Until Sunday, May 5, that is, when President Donald J. Twitter […]

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Forecast for Trump Trade Talks: More Snow, Maybe Ice

      If what we’re seeing now is the Trump trade “strategy”—cram trade talks between the U.S. and China, the U.S. and Japan, and the U.S. and European Union (E.U.) into an ever-tightening window—export-dependent American farmers and ranchers are in serious trouble for several reasons.

      The first reason is the relentless calendar. Trade talks require years […]

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“No problem, I’ll just stop eating pork.”

      One tried-and-true tool politicians use to deflect public criticism is as old as politics itself: beat up the press.

      Someone in Secretary Sonny Perdue’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thought it was time to do just that April 8 as the “FSIS Office of Congressional and Public Affairs”—USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service—issued a blistering […]

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