The farmer is the central cog in a system wherein all ancillary cogs profit because the central cog keeps turning. Seed and agrochemical companies, animal breeders, equipment dealers, crop insurance salesmen and bankers on the front end, and food processors and manufacturers on the tail end …

A week before American voters decided whether the midterm elections would deliver a red wave or a blue wave, OpenSecrets.org, the non-partisan group that tracks money in politics, made a spot-on prediction: the biggest wave on Nov. 6 would be green.

Humanity depends on three critical threes: Without oxygen, most humans will die within three minutes; without water, life expectancy is three days; without food, we’ve got three weeks.

The nation’s telecommunications industry is changing at a rapid pace. This change is driven by the large number of people demanding equipment and services with high-speed Internet access. There has been a virtual explosion of new services being offered online. Smartphones, hand-held computer…

“February” is one of the finest essays in Sand County Almanac, the 1949 book of superlative essays on nature and mankind’s role in it, by forester and conservationist Aldo Leopold. In it, Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology, tells the history of his Wisconsin “sand farm” and its natural …

In the last week, campaign ads attacking Wisconsin Farmers Union have gone from false and sarcastic to downright bizarre — attacking state senate candidate Kriss Marion for positions that Wisconsin Farmers Union took before she was even a member, or positions that WFU has never taken at all.

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?

On Oct. 1, U.S. farmers and ranchers joined President Donald J. Trump to praise one of his administration’s biggest international achievements, a reworked trade deal among the U.S, Mexico and Canada.

October is National Cooperative Month, a time to celebrate and honor the important role cooperatives play in building communities. One in three Americans is a member of a cooperative, an organization that is equally owned and controlled by their members. Unlike corporations, the sole purpose…

Farmers and ranchers spent most of last month hoping the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent crop estimates would be proven wrong and President Donald J. Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.

One hardly knows where to begin commenting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $12 billion farm aid package designed to help farmers and ranchers financially blindsided by the POTUS’s trade war with China.

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.”

While U.S. farmers and ranchers spent August fretting over escalating tariffs and retreating markets, two ag policy experts used the month to publish a series of five columns that artfully — and courageously — skinned most of agriculture’s sacred cows even as they planted new policy ideas fo…

The work at Farm Bureau is never done as we look for ways to better serve our members and be a voice for farmers. Wisconsin Farm Bureau knows that the dairy dilemma is front of mind for many right now. While some things, like market prices, are out of our control, we have been busy looking f…

During my 30-year career in farm policy work, there was always a “supply problem” in dairy. Today, it is more of the same. Understanding the federal marketing order/​administrative pricing system has been left to a few academic economists, industry economists, some dairy farmers and very few…

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 — fueled by his heavy use of tariffs — that pointedly excluded Canada.

Could you take a 30 percent cut in pay? Dairy farmers have taken that cut, or more, but still work hard to put wholesome food on our tables. The dairy crisis is real, not only in Wisconsin but across the U.S. If you eat, you have a connection to this crisis. Milk prices are very low, making …

In June, I attended the Wisconsin State FFA Convention in Madison to watch our oldest son receive a gold award in Dairy Proficiency. I am always impressed with how the FFA continues to help shape and inspire tomorrow’s leaders. The enthusiasm these young people have for agriculture is nothin…

Cool, foggy August mornings like today inevitably carry the 50-year-old sounds of the milking parlor where my father and herdsman Howard spent tens of thousands of hours together over nearly four decades.

The day U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the White House plan to spread $12 billion of taxpayer salve on its festering tariff wound, November soybean futures ended their day completely unimpressed — down a sleepy 2.5 cents.

The U.S. House and Senate versions of the farm bill, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,” differ markedly in several important areas — conservation appropriations, work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and constraining expenditures. The Wisconsin Far…

Farmers and ranchers can’t afford to hang on to equipment and practices that aren’t working. We economize and fix our trucks and tractors until we must replace them. We adopt new technology and farming techniques that make our businesses more efficient and environmentally friendly. We’re alw…

Sometimes it’s even hard for me to believe what I read in the newspaper. The latest “someone-really-said-that?” moment arrived courtesy of The Milkweed, the sharp-penned, monthly dairy newspaper owned and edited by Peter Hardin in Brooklyn, Wis.

The increasing number of news stories in the past year focused on dairy farmers losing their milk markets has brought into sharp focus the crucial role cooperatives play in protecting their members’ economic interests. As economic disruptions among some private milk handlers have cascaded do…

Once, when walking across the Charles Bridge in Prague, a friend asked if I knew the story behind the stunning, 14th-century marvel under our feet. No, I replied, mostly because my education did not require much European history.

In Wisconsin, the start of summer means the start of fair season, a time for your family and communities to come together to make memories. Across the state, communities will see fairgrounds come alive with the lights of Ferris wheels, smells of fair food and sounds of livestock. As secretar…

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.

The 2018 Minnesota Legislative Session ended without the progress we needed to see for family farmers and rural communities. That’s exactly what large-scale corporate ag wanted: business as usual. Corporate ag keeps building and expanding, running family farmers off the land and out of busin…

As farmers, it’s not in our nature to brag about ourselves. We take great pride in our work and in how our farm businesses play critical roles in our rural economy. But we get busy doing and would rather let the quality of our work speak for itself. We answer the call when it comes to servin…

Prince Edward Island, caressed in eastern Canada’s provincial 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 color-soaked postcard for tourists and lo…

When listening to the radio or reading the news lately, you have likely heard or seen numerous stories about negotiating trade agreements, possible tariffs and meetings between national leaders. While there is a lot of back-and-forth debate and speculation, it is critical that as an industry…

Gov. Scott Walker recently announced his recommendation to commit $7.2 million of Stewardship Funds to obtain a conservation easement across 21,000 acres of privately owned timberlands in Sawyer County. This looks like a great deal for Northwoods ATP, but what about for Wisconsin?

June has always been a big month for me. I was born in June, graduated from high school in June, was readmitted to the Big U in June (it’s a long story) and, starting in June 1993, this weekly effort began quietly in the Galesburg (Ill.) Register-Mail.

Forty years ago Waylon and Willie asked the nation’s mamas not to “let your babies grow up to be cowboys” because “they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone, even with someone they love.”