Special Interests

You’re a Neoliberal, I’m a Neoliberal, We’re all Neoliberals–For Now

For almost 50 years, the world has gotten faster, richer, and–yes–fatter. The power behind all that (ahem) growth has been neoliberalism.

It’s not a political label or a personal slander. Instead, as author Rana Foroohar explains in her new book, Homecoming, neoliberalism is “an economic and political philosophy that capital, people, and goods should be able […]

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And the Numbers Prove It

Journalism, like baseball, aging, and bridesmaids, is often about the numbers. Sometimes big numbers are good, other times small numbers are better. Either way, numbers usually define our work, our families, and our lives in more ways than we care to count.

And they can surprise us, too.

Like in early November when the International Food Policy […]

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USDA’s ‘Deeply Flawed’ $3 Billion ‘Climate Smart Commodities’ Program

Even at first glance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recently announced $3-billion-dollar “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities” sounds like doublespeak, an Orwellian invention that reverses the meaning of words.

Or, more plainly, how can today’s commodity-centered, industrialized agriculture be remotely “climate-smart” when everyone in the food business readily acknowledges it’s an oil-gulping, climate-changing juggernaut?

The short, truthful […]

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‘The Ceaseless Drive to Endless Increase…’

It usually goes without notice or comment, but three of the planet’s key elements–carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen–sit like ducks in row as Element Six, Seven, and Eight, respectively, on the Periodic Table.

None is more important than the others and yet, if there’s a first among equals, it would be nitrogen as a prescient report from […]

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When Free Markets Hit the Frying Pan, Consumers Often Get Burned

On Nov. 6, 2018, 12 million Californians voted, by a 63-to-37-percent majority, to establish minimum welfare standards for livestock and poultry products–chiefly eggs, pork, and veal–sold in the nation’s most populous state.

The initiative, called Proposition 12 (Prop 12), was an emphatic endorsement of two previous actions (one by voters in 2008; the other by […]

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A No-Ethanol Future Doesn’t Mean a No-Profit Future

It’s rare to find one Midwestern academic publicly questioning the economic and environmental impacts of ethanol.

It’s even rarer to find four academics–one from a corn state land grant university, three from a leading university in the leading corn-producing state–raising objections to the biofuel and its byproducts that will use one out of every three bushels […]

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Our Money, Their Mouth, Your Choice

If the political polls are to be believed, November’s midterm election will sweep Democrats out of power in the U.S. House of Representatives and put Republicans back in charge.

If accurate, House Republicans will have a splendid opportunity to put your tax money where their collective mouth is by implementing their highly detailed, little-publicized “Blueprint to […]

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Outside the Fence One Time Too Many

Contrary to folklore, three times is rarely a charm. The number three, in fact, often carries woe: “Three strikes and you’re out,” for example or “Bad news usually comes in threes.”

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors rediscovered these portentous axioms July 7 when, for the third time in less than a year, a jury in […]

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Nowhere to Hide at Low Tide

Mega-billionaire Warren Buffett has a well-deserved reputation as a genius “value investor” and pithy commentator. His annual reports to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are highly anticipated for their market insight and expressive language, and often make news because of both.

For example, one of Buffett’s most quoted sayings colorfully explains that “You only find out who’s swimming […]

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The Simple Answer to the Simple Question

Oftentimes the simple answer to a simple question is the simple truth.

Some people, however, don’t want the simple truth, so they bend facts or shave figures so their square pegs replace roundly accepted reality. It’s commonplace in ag.

For example, on April 12, President Joe Biden traveled to Iowa to announce an expansion of the ethanol […]

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