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

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