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Comment: The road to perdition always leads south

U.S. farmers are stuck between a rock and a hard place due to Trump’s trade wars

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers. Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments […] Read more

Comment: Our garden’s last stand

There was no food waste on the rural farm of my youth

In the unseasonable heat of mid-September, the yard’s many black walnut trees began shedding their heavy fruit. Now, a month on, the stately trees are bare of nuts and most of their leaves weeks earlier than any year I can remember. Does that suggest an early winter? A long one? Time will tell. All I […] Read more

The United States Capitol Building

Comment: Tell me if you’ve heard this before

Because agriculture policy-makers can’t remember history, farmers may be doomed to repeat it

Truisms don’t need to be completely true to be a truism. For example, “If you live long enough, you’ll see everything” doesn’t mean you will see everything if you live a long life. You may see a great deal, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see “everything.” Simone de Beauvoir, a French novelist and existentialist, turned […] Read more

U.S. Senate building

Comment: September slips away — and so do political solutions

The clock is ticking on several U.S. policy decisions that could have global implications

There are never enough days in September for farmers, ranchers, and pennant-chasing baseball teams. Every day, whether spent in a combine, pasture or batter’s box, brings change to what’s real today and what’s possible tomorrow. And it happens fast; September days don’t pass, they evaporate. The U.S. Congress, however, seems not to notice days, months […] Read more

Carrot hanging on the end of angled stick

The carrot, the stick, and U.S. farmers

Trade turmoil has the White House picking winners and losers in the U.S. farm sector

The Trump administration’s good cop/bad cop approach to U.S. trade policy was on full display Aug. 27 when President Donald J. Trump, the bad cop that day, announced a very incomplete NAFTA trade deal — fuelled by his heavy use of tariffs — that pointedly excluded Canada. That day’s good cop was U.S. Secretary of […] Read more

Meet your new boss, same as the old boss

Your key customers are reacting to the shifting demands of their key customers

The only Washington, D.C.-area team having a worse year than the Baltimore Orioles is big food’s biggest, richest lobbying arm, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, or the GMA. Most American farmers and ranchers don’t know GMA by its acronym; they do, however, know its work: it was the organizer and chequebook behind the defeat of several […] Read more

Readers can write, too

Reader feedback is always interesting for a column writer

There’s an art and elegance to letter writing that electronic communication — email, texting, direct messaging, Twitter, and other ethereal forms — simply can’t capture. The biggest difference is also its most ironic: paperless communication encourages brevity and emphasizes urgency. Why, I wonder, is there a weight restriction on email? NNTR. (No need to reply.) […] Read more

Opinion: On the road – Ireland’s farms, food and future

Dublin, even in summer sunshine, can’t entirely shake its smoky, troubled past. Bullet holes the size of grapes still pockmark the pillars and walls of the General Post Office. Still, Dublin’s streets are packed. The lovely Catherine and I are there, too, walking along its central artery, the River Liffey. We’re in Ireland to visit […] Read more

Comment: When Trump starts tweeting, Sonny starts packing

The U.S. ag secretary has lately been America’s apologist-in-chief

Prince Edward Island, caressed in the arms of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is a lovely place to visit in June. Its sparkling red sand beaches, miles of white-blossomed potato fields, and rolling carpets of lush pasture form a colour-soaked postcard for tourists and locals alike. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue caught a glimpse […] Read more

Opinion: Age no guarantee of wisdom

We’re apparently no smarter than the ancient critics of what we now accept as established science

In May 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, a book that used mathematics and astronomy to postulate how the earth and the then-known planets rotated on their own axis as they orbited a stationary sun. Within days of its printing, however, Copernicus died. His theory of “heliocentrism,” the first scientific […] Read more