Posted on November 11, 2022
Even at first glance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recently announced $3-billion-dollar “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities” sounds like doublespeak, an Orwellian invention that reverses the meaning of words.
Or, more plainly, how can today’s commodity-centered, industrialized agriculture be remotely “climate-smart” when everyone in the food business readily acknowledges it’s an oil-gulping, climate-changing juggernaut?
The short, truthful […]
Posted on June 15, 2022
You don’t need to be a vegan to know that livestock and poultry aren’t “harvested,” the squeaky clean verb that’s become fashionable among farm and ranch groups to minimize the end–as in The End–of most animals their members grow.
Soybeans are harvested; pigs are slaughtered. Wheat is harvested; cattle are slaughtered.
It’s not a minor point, insists […]
Posted on June 11, 2021
Nearly everything about Francis and Susan Thicke’s southeastern Iowa, organic dairy farm whispers bucolic: a herd of Jersey cows and calves graze on rolling acres of green pastures amid fenced farm fields and acres and acres of tree-thick woods.
Even the farm’s name, Radiance Dairy, relays an easy calm.
But there’s nothing calm about the food fight the Thickes (pronounced […]
Posted on February 17, 2021
The impossibly improbable has occurred and you’re now secretary of agriculture. What you think or say about farm and rural policy matters as much—and, often, more—than what other political and farm “leaders” think or say.
So what do you think about U.S. agriculture today?
You’re entering office with major grain markets on a bull run. Indeed, corn, soybeans, and wheat prices […]
Posted on February 17, 2021
One topic most red, blue, and green politicians—and, even more strikingly, farmers—agree on is climate change; it’s real.
In fact, notes the Dec. 2020 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, 58 percent of Iowa farmers and landowners now agree that climate change is both occurring and is caused by either human activity or nature.
Moreover, if you add […]
Posted on January 27, 2021
On his way out the door last month, former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, just off a hammering reelection defeat, offered the nation one final idea: the incoming secretary of agriculture should be empowered to enroll up to 50 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) over the next five years.
Yes, 50—as […]
Posted on January 22, 2021
It’s a challenge to find one person with the combined skills of a farmer, rancher, forester, food aid administrator, tribal leader, attorney, economist, conservationist, miner, insurance expert, food scientist, and finance specialist to fill the about-to open job of the secretary of agriculture.
In fact, that person—described, in part, by the titles of the […]
Posted on July 6, 2020
Some observers see the Black Lives Matter movement as a tidal wave washing away America’s original sin, slavery, and the systemic racism it fostered for more than 400 years.
Maybe, but as the last 75 years of the American civil rights movement has proven time and again—and often in blood—rooting out hatred requires more […]
Posted on June 10, 2020
While Tyson Foods says it’s “feeding you like family,” we recently learned that it and the rest of America’s Big Meat members sometimes need a war-like White House declaration just to cut a fat hog.
More striking than the order itself was its effect: it didn’t work.
A week after President Donald J. Trump ordered […]
Posted on May 27, 2020
Before we take the next unsteady step into a very different future, let’s make sure it’s a step up the ladder and not a step off the plank.
How? We can start with disciplined decision making: Use proven facts, lean on practical experience, and focus like a laser on what is safe and smart.