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Global Food Chains Face More Uncertainty, More Instability

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 […]

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Lost Angeles and Long Beached

Not many people or events lead both the New York Times and CBS’s 60 Minutes television broadcast on the same day. The still-building mess at many American ports, however, pulled off that rare feat Sunday, Nov. 14, by simply being the biggest rat’s nest anyone in port management, railroading, trucking, or the West Coast ag exporting business has ever […]

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China’s Buying Binge Continues… Until It Doesn’t

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 […]

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February’s Paradox, March’s Struggles

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.

      Light, […]

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The Long and Short of It

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 […]

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When It Comes to Trade, Lucky It’s an Election Year

      After the White House announced its twin trade triumphs, passage of NAFTA 2.0 and phase one of a multi-phase deal with China, readers emailed to suggest I should write a column on—to quote two—the “absolutely amazing trade deals” “only President Trump” could have done.

      Before I pass judgment on so humble a request, it […]

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What We Know

The best way to begin a new year without feeling overwhelmed by what we don’t know is to start with what we do know.

      For example, we know the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) December World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate shows that about 14 percent, or one in seven bushels (bu.), of the 2019 […]

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More Fallout from “Mt. Tariff”

      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. […]

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China Plays the Long Game; U.S. Keeps Getting Played

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 […]

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End of Trade War Looks Like Beginning of Cold War

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 […]

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