Canada has become the top destination for U.S. ethanol exports. This Lincolnway Energy facility in Nevada, Iowa, uses corn. | File photo.

Ethanol markets will take a big hit

February was 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 grey skies bleed into endless grey days into an almost endless grey month. Then March appears with its light, colour and hope, and February’s dreariness is soon forgotten. Light, […] Read more

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for “phase one” of the U.S.-China trade agreement Jan. 15. The response from many trade observers has been — “don’t hold your breath.”  |  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque photo

U.S. trade deals receive weak review

After the White House announced its twin trade triumphs, the 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 of them — the “absolutely amazing trade deals” “only President Trump” could have done. Before I pass judgment […] Read more

The American dairy industry is advised to brace for more tough times in the wake of bankruptcy at the country’s largest milk company.  | File photo

U.S. milk shakeup just the beginning

While many in the United States dairy sector focus on why the nation’s largest milk bottler, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy Nov. 12, the smart money — if there is any smart money left after four years of crushingly low milk prices — is focused on what’s next. What’s next is what’s always next when […] Read more


It’s estimated that 371 million acres of U.S. farm and ranchland will change hands in the next 15 years.  |  REUTERS/Dan Koeck photo

Agriculture faces a heart transplant

If government and private estimates are accurate, hundreds of millions of American farm acres will have new owners in the next 15 years. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s survey takers and record keepers predict that 100 million acres of today’s farmland will be sold by its current owners by 2023. The American Farmland […] Read more

I once wrote a column on how farm groups sternly preached the value of what they reverently called “sound science” but, in fact, usually endorsed only “science that sounds good” to the groups. | File photo

Farm groups often worry about science only when it suits

I once wrote a column on how farm groups sternly preached the value of what they reverently called “sound science” but, in fact, usually endorsed only “science that sounds good” to the groups. I noted most of that good-sounding science was “science” tied to research bought-and-paid-for by the groups themselves. This tactic continues to confuse, […] Read more


Some are arguing that the American government would have trouble defending the legal authority it assumes it has to spend $28 billion in taxpayer money on “the White House’s trade war with China.”  |  Getty Images

U.S. farm aid covers up policy failure

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 […] Read more

Livestock producers have a solid lock on the “meat” market, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.  |  File photo

‘Meatless meat’ no threat to ranchers

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 […] Read more

A changing market: Chinese farmers grow soy in Russia

  Ag Twitter had a big sandbox to play in after the United States Department of Agriculture clobbered the agricultural futures markets Aug. 12 with its number-filled Crop Report and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. The updated numbers — planted acreage, estimated production, and projected usage — hit the market like a hailstorm. Corn […] Read more


USDA under fire for new attack on domestic food aid program

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 […] Read more

Mother Nature will always have the last word in agriculture and sometimes politics.  |   William DeKay photo

Mother Nature always bats last

Call it what you will — coincidence, chance or just bad luck — but on the very day that United States President Donald Trump defended his administration’s almost indefensible record on the environment, the Washington, D. C., metro area was deluged by rain not seen since Noah. In fact, so much rain fell so fast […] Read more