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

Tone-deaf American producers are turning the non-farming public against them in their latest response to the downturn in the agricultural economy.  | REUTERS/Rick Wilking photo

U.S. farmers not making any friends

When you’ve been in the ag journalism game for almost 40 years, few things surprise you. Floods, droughts, market crack-ups, political crockery, price fixing: none of it is shocking anymore. Yet on June 21, the Washington Post published a farm-based story that made even this greybeard marvel at how tone deaf and superior-sounding rural politics […] Read more


U.S. ag secretary’s fight to move agencies will cost farmers

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 of […] Read more

Federal payments to American producers such as soybean farmer Dave Walton of Wilton, Iowa, should fuel the market higher rather than send it lower.  |  REUTERS/Kia Johnson photo

U.S. farm aid must help boost prices

The month of May left as it arrived: riding in a rowboat from flooded farm field to flooded farm field across the Midwest United States. Worse, June is sloshing in with more rain, more mud, and more worry. Complicating matters, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a broad, new scheme that could pay U.S. […] Read more


U.S. President Donald Trump is promising billions of dollars to farmers as compensation for damage caused by his trade war with China, but it’s not clear where the money will come from.  |  REUTERS/Carlos Barria photo

Like watching a train wreck happen

No one I know has ever witnessed a train wreck as it happened. As such, when a friend or colleague says or writes that an event “was like watching a train wreck happen,” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t like watching a train wreck happen. Until May 5, that is, when U.S. President Donald J. Twitter […] Read more

An agricultural economist recently calculated that a forecasted 26.1-billion-gallon decline in yearly U.S. gasoline use by 2030 will drain 2.6 billion gallons of U.S. ethanol use from this year’s estimated 14.3 billion gallons over the next decade.  |  REUTERS/Loren Elliott photo

U.S. ethanol’s tough spot is tightening

If you want to anger almost any American farmer, write something less than flattering about the declining use of biofuels — especially ethanol. If you want to really anger almost any American farmer, write something unflattering about biofuels — especially ethanol — that includes the sentence, “U.S. farmers, particularly corn belt farmers, have gotten a […] Read more

The author argues that the current agricultural production model in the United States is becoming unsustainable.  |  REUTERS/Daniel Acker photo

Farmers struggle with sustainability

Almost everyone and everything from commodity groups to coal companies make some claim that their business incorporates “sustainable” practices or production. Rarely, if ever, is anyone asked to prove it. More to the point, even if someone did ask, how would they know if their answer actually supports their claim? Well, surprise, there is a […] Read more


American dairy producers accused a yogurt maker of crossing a line when it announced it would soon begin requiring the milk it buys to be GM free. It was a predictable but misguided response.  |  File photo

Don’t tell consumers ‘you’re wrong’

When most of us hear the words, “have I got a great deal for you”, we grab our wallets because experience suggests any forthcoming deal won’t be great. Similarly, when someone says, “here’s the straight talk,” our baloney meters redline because we know the coming talk will be about as straight as a hound’s hind […] Read more

Congress has launched hearings into the latest proposed mergers in the crop input sector, but it has missed the boat.  |  File photo

Too late to curb crop input mergers

One of the oldest truisms agriculture offers is the simple, rock-solid advice that the time to close the barn door is before the cows get out. Closing the door afterward, as everyone knows, is pointless because the cows are already long gone. Everyone, except of course, the United States Congress which, in September, hosted a […] Read more