Every Memorial Day, my long-time friend David would honor both his family and fellow Vietnam War veterans with a visit to his hometown cemetery, an hour’s drive west of St. Louis.
In this column we want to begin to address the challenge of getting the food that is currently being destroyed from the fields, pastures, and barns where it is being produced to the poor and newly unemployed who are having trouble putting food on their tables.
Nothing in this world is certain, except death and taxes, according to Benjamin Franklin. That’s not entirely true. He left out weeds.
USDA announced details for enrollment in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will authorize up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers to partially help offset the financial impacts that U.S. farmers and ranchers have incurred as a result of the COVID-19 p…
My father sent me a quick message this week to let me know he wasn’t growing any cotton this year. He said the last two years of poor planting and harvest weather took the fun out of growing the crop.
05/19/20 — The 2020 growing season has begun, and it looks like we’ll have an early planted corn and soybean crop, but just about everything else is later than normal in development. Corn planting was almost complete by May 18, with soybeans over half done which is early on both counts. Howe…
I get to teach one course here at SDSU, on animal diseases. The students are a great mix of future livestock producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, and many others. Because the subject doesn’t get covered much elsewhere, and students have their own animal experiences, they tend to be prett…
What’s your lawn philosophy? Do you meticulously groom and coddle each grass blade to perfection? Or maybe you only mow the lawn when searching where you left the wheelbarrow.
The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report released on May 12 projected a large increase in U.S. corn ending stocks by the end pf the 2020-21 marketing year. From a grain marketing standpoint, the report was widely regarded as “mixed” for the balance of the 2019-2…
Many of this spring’s graduation plans have been kyboshed by the coronavirus situation. Which is too bad because graduation is a young person’s best opportunity to harvest cash from friends, neighbors, relatives, and even random strangers you happen to pass on the street.
As if 20 percent unemployment, wretchedly weak commodity markets, shuttered ethanol and meatpacking plants, and a coronavirus pandemic aren’t bad enough, the White House chose mid-May to, literally, go viral with China, one of American agriculture’s best cash-and-carry customers.
I took a bite of homemade buttermilk pancakes.
Our brains are designed to make sense of the things happening around us. When we can’t, it tends to make us uncomfortable. Sometimes, to save us that discomfort, our minds will invent explanations for things, even if we’re not certain the explanation is correct.
05/12/20 — On May 12, USDA released their first 2020/21 numbers, with very few surprises included. They used the March acreage intentions of 97 million acres of corn and 83.5 million acres of soybeans. At trend yields of 178.5 bu corn and 49.8 bu/acre soybeans, that gives us a 16 billion bu …
My parents got married in 1980 and bought the farm in ’81. Yet, from all my growing-up years, I don’t have many memories of my dad in the tractor. Instead I see the dark green Peterbilt where he worked long hours to pay for that place we called home.
How can one year make so much difference?
Corn prices have declined significantly in the past couple of months, due to the coronavirus outbreak and greatly reduced ethanol production. Soybean prices also declined somewhat in March and April, and wheat prices have remained quite low. While the lower corn and soybean prices are having…
I didn’t have the gumption to see it through, so I gave up on the project.
Did you know that in 17th century Holland, you could buy a house or a farm field for a handful of tulip bulbs? Not because property was dirt cheap, but because tulips were that valuable.
While Tyson Foods says it’s “feeding you like family,” we recently learned that it and the rest of America’s Big Meat members sometimes need a war-like White House declaration just to cut a fat hog.
“Mom, I feel like a bandit,” my 16-year-old daughter said as she adjusted her cloth face mask as we entered the grocery store.
My mother grew up in some rough neighborhoods, and her parents didn’t always make the best decisions. She had to get tough very young.
05/05/20 — The world is now focused on reopening the economy after a few months of an essential shutdown in most areas that was costly to many industries. Some industries won’t fully recover for years, and that leaves mortgages, payments and loans counting on “normal” in jeopardy. That pain …
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down much of the economy and disrupted marketplaces and supply chain systems worldwide.
It’s a sight for sore eyes: sunny days, warm air, and green, green grass growing in the pastures – almost growing taller by the hour. Cattle producers and horse owners live for this time of year, when animals can be turned out to graze by themselves and feeding chores drop off the to-do list…
In many years, some of the best grain marketing opportunities occur from mid-April until late June. Sometimes, planting delays can lead to market price improvement, however, that is not likely to occur in 2020 due to accelerated planting progress. In addition, the worldwide outbreak of COVID…
We are at that in-between time of year when the furnace runs in the morning and the air conditioning kicks in during the afternoon. We are paying to heat and cool the same air each day.
For over a month now, nearly anyone who can lift a fork has asked what the “new normal” in American agriculture will be after COVID-19 loosens its terrible grip.
Gardening and bragging just don’t seem compatible. Quietly enjoying the warm sunshine while digging the soil, gently planting flowers and vegetables while listening to the birds chirp doesn’t mesh with boasting about how good we are.
“Do you need any rice?” I asked with a slightly muffled voice.
I find myself writing in this column often about the need for people to do the right thing when no one is looking — and about their failure to do so.
04/28/20 — Commodity markets have been dominated the past few months by COVID-19. Finally, spring planting is beginning while the coronavirus seems to be fading as the flu season comes to an end. That’s great news for the wheat market, which has had some good news the past few weeks. But for…
Like the start of a big race, or the beginning of a Championship game, many farmers in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa initiated of full-scale field work during the week of April 20-26. Most farm operators across the region reported almost ideal planting conditions; however, rainfall in…
Have you ever attended a tour of gardens, when a group of homeowners graciously open their yards for the rest of us to see? These tours are often sponsored by civic groups or garden clubs as fundraising events, and they’re well-attended and popular.
“Mom, do you know how to make spaetzle mac and cheese?” my son asked via text message.
In times such as these we turn to things that are familiar and comforting. We long for things that seem permanent and unchangeable, such as the faces on Mount Rushmore or Cher.
Before we take the next unsteady step into a very different future, let’s make sure it’s a step up the ladder and not a step off the plank.
04/21/20 — In universities all across the world, it is indisputable that the impossible just happened. Negative commodity values are now possible, violating the rule taught in all major universities that the lowest commodity prices can go is zero. But what devious devices can we dream up now…
Some signs of our times:
As the health concerns due to the coronavirus outbreak continue to increase, so do the economic concerns for families and businesses of all sizes across the United States. Rural communities and the agriculture industry have not been spared from the economic hardships that are being caused by…
Did you hear about the latest botanical breakthrough? A plant breeder finally succeeded in crossing a four-leaf clover with poison ivy. That’s right, he had a rash of good luck.
One reason—there were others—for my departure from farm magazine writing was laughter. Let me explain.
Being an Extension veterinarian with public health duties, there’s one type of question that I get asked quite regularly. I received a prime example via email a few weeks ago:
“Wow, I’ve counted 21 people,” my husband noted as we walked around our neighborhood.
The punches just keep coming.
04/14/20 — We are finally seeing the COVID-19 pandemic starting to shrink, as less new infections are occurring daily than the previous day, meaning in 14 days we will have fewer of the infected people to spread it going forward. Finally, the drastic social distancing programs implemented ac…
The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Report released on April 9 increased the projected 2019-20 U.S. corn and soybean ending stocks. The higher corn ending stocks were primarily due to a reduction in the annual bushels of corn used for ethanol production, while the…
Fifty million blackbirds can’t be wrong.
There’s a brittle beauty to this year’s spring. Amid the swaying daffodils, cotton clouds, and already roaring tractors and dust-shaking planters hides a deadly virus with a special fondness for those of us in rural America.
“We’re eating out of the freezer,” one of my Facebook friends said. “What do you think of this really, really old pizza we bought from a kid who was fundraising?”