Posted on April 30, 2020
There’s a brittle beauty to this year’s spring. Amid the swaying daffodils, cotton clouds, and already roaring tractors and dust-shaking planters hides a deadly virus with a special fondness for those of us in rural America.
In fact, rural America is perfectly primed for Covid-19, according to any epidemiologist worth their student loans. The virus […]
Posted on February 27, 2020
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 […]
Posted on January 2, 2020
After 38 years in journalism, some events still cause shock. Many center on public officials holding private meetings where a “just-us-insiders” intimacy affords all a “better understanding”—read total control—of their policy initiatives.
Sorry (not sorry), but public policy doesn’t work that way. There’s no room for secrecy when public officials spend public money to […]
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 October 29, 2019
The internal memo only confirmed what unofficial Washington had been saying for more than a year and what official Washington had been downplaying for even longer: The White House plan to move two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies to Kansas City will severely cripple USDA data collection, handcuff policymakers who depend on the […]
Posted on September 5, 2019
Ag Twitter had a big sandbox to play in after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) clobbered the agricultural futures markets Aug. 12 with its number-filled Crop Report and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE.
The updated numbers—planted acreage, estimated production, and projected usage—hit the market like a hailstorm. Corn futures snapped […]
Posted on August 29, 2019
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the yellow roses along the primrose path are dazzling distractions from what, in a matter of days, has already been a long month for farmers and ranchers.
Worse, a long harvest and bitter winter also loom as President Donald J. Trump threatens even tougher trade sanctions […]
Posted on August 29, 2019
On the farms of our youths, the dog days of August featured actual dogs and not a whole lot of anything else.
Given the unsettled state of today’s growing season, commodity markets, and politics, maybe the best way to get through this August is to slide back to that era and just not say […]
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 10, 2019
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue doesn’t need to hit the road this summer to find more than enough messy problems to keep him busy through harvest.
There’s the Chinese trade mess, the NAFTA 2.0 trade mess, the European Union trade mess, and the Japanese trade mess.
Also, there’s the mess Mother Nature made […]