No one in farming or ranching buys a bag of seed corn or a couple of young bulls hoping for an average corn crop or an average calf crop. Both buy what each believes will best fit their farm and ranch's unique circumstances to achieve the best results, because average is, well, average. Moreover, since the make-up — the DNA — of every ranch and every farm is unique, every choice every farmer or rancher makes in their career is equally unique. The same is true for you and me.
The low whimpering and muffled whining heard in farm country this month are not the gripes and grunts of corn and soybean growers trudging through 2015's purgatory of under-$4 corn and less-than-$10 beans. Instead, it's the rising complaints of cranky farmers as they trudge out of dull meetings where Land Grant experts and Farm Service Agency officials have spent hours explaining farm program options under the 2014 farm bill. Good grief, one farmer moaned to a reporter from Iowa Public Television's Market-to-Market program after a lengthy, acronym-packed meeting, "It would be hard to make it
January's week of blistering cold was met with the blissful heat from the farmette's two efficient woodstoves. Red oak and hickory are, after all, the July and August of wood heat both when you split 'em and when you burn 'em. Zero degree cold was not common on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. While winters were cold, I don't recall any as cold as every one of the 30 winters at my adopted home 200 miles north. Oh, the ground down south did freeze every winter, but it rarely was frozen all winter.
We didn't know it back then but everyone on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was a foodie. Of course there was no one named Bittman or Pollan or Waters to tell us we were foodies, but there were people named Mom and Grandma and Aunt Nina whose food knocked your socks off despite their cracking a cookbook about as often as they wrote one — which was never. Most of the ingredients these professional-amateurs used in our breakfasts, dinners and suppers came either from our farm and garden or were purchased — hogs, peaches, roasting hens, eggs, apples and such —
Last year may have been a lot of things to a lot of people but one thing it surely wasn't was predictable. I mean, who foresaw last year's record-setting high in the U.S. stock market, the plunge in global crude oil prices, Russia's naked grab of Ukraine's sovereign territory or the Obama Administration reaching out to Cuba? Not me; I was a solid "Wow," "Whoa," "Nyet" and "Really?" on four of the biggest events to rock both the U.S. and its farmers in 2014. This year I'm not taking any chances and announcing 2015's first big global event, the already announced (on Dec.
The email got the point as quickly as a working hammer gets to a nail: "Alan — You have got to be kidding me — production agriculture 'embrace' the EPA clean water regulations?" it asked not really seeking an answer. The question was sent in reaction to a mid-September column that urged farmers and ranchers to work with the Obama White House to find some shared ground on the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule before an even tougher clean water rule (think Lake Erie, green slime, Toledo) is imposed on U.S.
A month ago I enjoyed a church dinner in the gymnasium of the grade school I attended 50 years ago. Back then, the gym sparkled with newness because, like the school itself, it was brand new, finished just weeks before I reported to the first grade as an equally-new student. Over the ensuing half-century, the school has been extensively remodeled but the gym has changed little. Roll-out, three-row wooden bleachers still line the long walls of the same basketball court we were permitted to use only if it was raining cows at recess.
Federally subsidized crop insurance is the elephant in the farm bill pantry and anyone who had any role in pushing the law through the zoo called Congress knows it.
Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, Christmas is in the windshield and, given the glacial pace of key policy decisions awaiting resolution in Washington, D.C., it's just another Groundhog Day out here in rural America. Those decisions, after two years of heavy-duty do-nothingness, are coming slower than the deadlines faced by this Congress and the new one coming in January. First up is funding the federal government. The current short-term fix ends today.
If you ran your farm or ranch like the White House and Congress run the federal government, your corn would never get planted and your cows would be long gone. Of course, if you ran your farm or ranch anywhere near the level of — what? — the scornful divisiveness and almost pure reactionary politics that now guide Congress and the White House you wouldn't be ranching or farming today. You'd be long gone like the corn and the cows.