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 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 […]
Posted on January 2, 2020
No major American daily newspaper features sharper, more poisonous pens than the market-focused writers at the Wall Street Journal. When these opinion peddlers go after you in print, they hit hard, fast, and—most of the time—with inarguable fact.
Witness the Journal’s lead editorial Dec. 3, titled “Mount Tariff Erupts Again,” a full-frontal assault on President Donald J. […]
Posted on December 18, 2019
Thanksgiving was the kickoff to a month of bookkeeping, depreciation schedules, and checkbook balancing for my parents on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. It culminated in an afternoon meeting, usually the week after Christmas, where my father would detail the farm’s annual performance to his three, city-dwelling partners and lay out his plans for […]
Posted on December 4, 2019
Several years ago, when Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Tom Friedman was asked to choose which rising Asian nation, China or India, he’d bet the farm on, Friedman didn’t hesitate to pick India.
The reason, he explained, was that while both nations were on an expressway to the future, India, the world’s largest democracy, had an open road in […]
Posted on November 26, 2019
If China agreed to purchase “$40 to $50 billion” of U.S. farm goods in “the next two years,” as President Donald J. Trump announced Oct. 11, the futures market—where market reality is quickly sorted from political talk—literally wasn’t buying it.
In fact, November soybean futures, the nearby contract, opened Monday, Oct. 14 at $9.405 per bu. and […]
Posted on October 16, 2019
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 […]
Posted on September 26, 2019
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, […]
Posted on August 15, 2019
You know it’s going to be a long, hot summer if, on the day before you assume the political leadership of the United Kingdom—as Boris Johnson did on July 23—one of the world’s most authoritative newspapers, the New York Times, prints a column that begins with the phrase, “Boris Johnson, to whom lying comes as […]
Posted on July 31, 2019
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 […]