Posted on February 18, 2022
For more than 40 years my father farmed within a mile of where the Kaskaskia River met the Mississippi deep in southern Illinois. That meant he had two, lifetime partners: the river and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, landlords of the levees that guarded our wedge of the Great American Bottoms.
Dad never argued with […]
Posted on January 3, 2022
People have strange hobbies.
For example, a Great Plains friend of mine once trained a chicken to play dead. Remarkably, on command, his chicken would take a whole-body flop that could have taught Steve Martin a thing or two about physical comedy.
Another friend, a retired professor, is (unsurprisingly, really) even more iconoclastic: he reads Securities and Exchange Commission […]
Posted on August 13, 2021
In a sweeping, 72-point executive order on competition, the Biden Administration announced it was taking dead aim at the heavily concentrated “multinational companies (that) increasingly dominate markets for crops, chemicals, seeds, and meat,” reported Bloomberg.
The competition order–that “reach(es) from the FDA to the Pentagon”–includes “directives… such as rules that would help chicken farmers and ranchers… […]
Posted on June 11, 2021
On May 17, six farm groups joined voices to call on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Congress, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ensure a “more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.”
That’s make-nice farm talk for “Meatpackers are skinning U.S. cattlemen so badly now that we six, not-usually-friendly groups ask the federal government—swamp […]
Posted on April 29, 2021
Like many global meatpacking companies, JBS SA, the giant Brazilian meat and poultry packer with extensive operations in North and South America, Europe, and Australia, spent most of the last six months buying its way out of trouble with U.S. customers and the American government.
Even a cursory examination shows JBS spent $221.5 million in […]
Posted on February 24, 2021
Forty years ago, two editors at Successful Farming magazine, Gene Johnston and Dean Houghton, won most major ag journalism awards with a story titled “Who will kill the hogs?”
The piece (not available online) tracked a new, potent shift just beginning to hit the 600,000 hog farmers in the U.S.: Local meatpackers were being squeezed for hogs […]
Posted on June 10, 2020
For over a month now, nearly anyone who can lift a fork has asked what the “new normal” in American agriculture will be after Covid-19 loosens its terrible grip.
Six weeks later, we now have a pretty good idea that ag’s new normal will look like ag’s old normal even if it takes a […]
Posted on October 2, 2019
P.T. Barnum, the quintessential American showman, might have found today’s food carnival more interesting and far more profitable than his namesake circus of yore.
For example, slow food is taking note of the fast rise of meatless, or plant-based, burgers this year. Veggie burgers, their previous incarnation, are not new; the lovely Catherine has been […]
Posted on June 14, 2018
Forty years ago Waylon and Willie asked the nation’s mamas not to “let your babies grow up to be cowboys” because “… they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone, even with someone they love.”
That sage advice is even more true after a spring cattle market that’s been too wild to forget and too brutal […]
Posted on February 14, 2018
Maybe it’s a sign of our fast-changing times, but paradox and irony seem as common today as lunch and supper. For example, the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, owns no taxis and the world’s second largest air force is the U.S. Navy.
The same is true of the American beef sector. As of mid-January, the owner […]