Posted on November 26, 2021
One rainy November day 20 or so years ago, the lovely Catherine and I were hopelessly lost in the streets and lanes of Glasgow, Scotland while searching for an art museum. By the time we finally conceded defeat and hailed a taxi to take us there, we were soaked, shivering, and couldn’t have cared less […]
Posted on November 11, 2021
In an effort to maintain its enviable, 34-year run of labor peace, Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers recently announced a deal to boost worker pay–by 20 percent over five and six years, Deere said–to keep the iconic green-and-yellow machines rolling off its 11 assembly lines and through its three distribution centers.
The manufacturing […]
Posted on October 29, 2021
It’s a rare honor to be named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. In fact, in 40 years, only 1,061 Americans have been awarded the title and the no-strings-attached stipend, this year a plush $625,000, commonly referred to as a “genius grant.”
Even more rare are MacArthur Fellows with ties to farming and food. Before this year, only […]
Posted on October 11, 2021
A recent, number-laden bulletin posted on the University of Illinois website farmdoc daily caught my attention for two reasons.
First, its data, drawn mostly from several U.S. Census of Agriculture, paints a troubling picture of U.S. agriculture today. More importantly, that picture suggests American ag policy needs to make “strategic” changes to meet new challenges–climate change and new […]
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 August 13, 2021
In an essay in his new book, Hogs Are Up, Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute near Salina, KS, revisits a speech he gave in Coon Rapids, IA, in August 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of Nikita Khrushchev’s famous visit to the Roswell Garst farm.
During that cornfield summit, suggests Jackson, Garst and Khrushchev chatted about […]
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 March 11, 2021
There’s a clear lesson in the chemical and ethical cloud now shrouding AltEn, a 25-million-gallon per year ethanol plant just south of Mead, NE.
In fact, there’s more than one lesson but the big one—how rural America is becoming a legal dumping ground for wastes created by corporate America—may be AltEn’s enduring legacy.
The plant, […]
Posted on August 14, 2020
Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.
It was hard, dirty work but […]
Posted on August 6, 2020
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 […]