Posted on March 31, 2022
For the second time in two years, a history-making calamity has shown just how fragile the world’s efficiency-driven, deeply interdependent food system is.
Two years ago, a rampaging pandemic threatened America’s pantries. Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens supplies of key ag inputs like fuel and fertilizer while causing deep disruptions to global wheat, corn, and […]
Posted on September 9, 2021
Talk about mixed messaging.
Two homemade campaign signs from last fall’s presidential election remain on the edge of a sprawling, well-kept dairy farm I recently passed. One, large and white against a green backdrop of tasseled corn, touts Donald Trump; the other, smaller and more wordy, declares that if Biden wins, all Americans soon will be “working for […]
Posted on June 11, 2021
China is even hungrier, richer, and—to the delight of almost every American farmer—more impatient in today’s global food market than anyone thought possible even a decade ago.
In fact, according to the data crunchers at Agricultural Economic Insights (aei), China now imports “about 100 million acres worth of crop production, or roughly 25% of total […]
Posted on December 9, 2020
As political winners joust over election spoils, many Americans are tickled pink (or purple) to leave the costliest, most bitter campaign season behind and return to their lives of family, work, and dreams.
For U.S. farmers and ranchers that means a return to three pre-election realities: a strong, export-led rise in grain prices; another winter […]
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 […]
Posted on June 10, 2020
As if 20 percent unemployment, wretchedly weak commodity markets, shuttered ethanol and meatpacking plants, and a coronavirus pandemic aren’t bad enough, the White House chose mid-May to, literally, go viral with China, one of American agriculture’s best cash-and-carry customers.
This fight, however, isn’t over steel, aluminum or soybeans. It’s about spilled milk: How much responsibility […]
Posted on April 2, 2020
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.
Posted on March 26, 2020
In just one, unwelcome week in America, the coronavirus drained $3.6 trillion from the stock market, clipped Apple shareholders for $220 billion, and sent millions of Americans to stores to buy every facemask, surgical glove, and gallon of bleach they could get their now-sanitized hands on.
It’s what we do; we panic first and ask […]
Posted on March 26, 2020
If you’re a farmer or rancher, you might be in for a bad day when you open your Monday morning email and five of the six headlines sent by an ag news service read:
–“USDA declares Brazilian beef safe, lifts [U.S. import] ban;”
–“GAO launches investigation into Trump aid to farmers;”
–“China could purchase much […]
Posted on March 13, 2020
Geography isn’t static. Rivers change course, mountains erode, and islands disappear under rising seas.
The geography of farming and food changes, too. For example, 180 years ago my home county was the castor bean and castor oil capital of the U.S. Both titles, however, slipped into irrelevance as a new resource, crude oil, rose […]