The article “Problems piling up: Winter weather wreaks havoc on western Wisconsin farms” (March 6, Page 1A) described the catastrophic winter weather damage that caused numerous barn roofs to collapse in western and west-central Wisconsin. Early this month, I visited some of the impacted farms and met the farmers behind them. ... Read more
As dairy farmers, we find ourselves looking for answers to our low prices. Whether you have 25 cows or 5,000 cows, we’re often operating below the cost of production. It also doesn’t matter what region of the U.S. in which a person is dairying; experts claim that most dairies are $2 per hund…
While officials in Washington stare at a federal budget proposal headed nowhere and a federal budget deficit headed to the moon, farm leaders in rural America are closely watching two recent moves into Big Ag by Big Retail.
Mexico imports nearly a quarter of the U.S. dairy industry’s exports annually. It’s a critical $1.4 billion marketplace. And it’s one that President Donald Trump continues to risk damaging permanently — and unnecessarily.
According to the Roman calendar, the Ides of March was the ancient empire’s traditional day to settle debts. In 44 B.C., Brutus and Cassius, two of Rome’s elite senators, settled a political debt with Julius Caesar, their emperor, by stabbing him to death in the Senate on the Ides, or March 15.
To most farmers and ranchers, “sustainable” is a word that, like exercise or vacation, has a dictionary definition and a personal definition. The difference between the two, however, often is the difference between the county fair and the World’s Fair.
Climate change can be difficult to fully wrap your mind around. My fear is that more people will engage only after facing a crisis themselves — losing a home due to flooding, markets upended by multi-year droughts or water shortages.
If you get a group of dairy farmers together to discuss the challenges facing the industry, you won’t have to wait long before someone mentions the decline in fluid milk consumption. There is no doubt this is a problem for the dairy community. There is also a direct link behind this and the …
One of the oldest theoretical constructions in economics declares that in a perfect market, short-term profits and losses eventually even out so that, in the long term, all profits are zero.
I’ve been covering U.S.-China trade relationships pertaining to agriculture for almost two decades.
For those of us who have slid, shoveled and skated through the wildest up-and-down February weather in years, here’s a warm thought: Corn planters are rolling in southern Texas.
Across rural America, communities are increasingly depending on high-speed internet to complete an education, talk to their doctors or adopt the latest farm technology. Meanwhile, access to broadband internet speeds has become a necessity in today’s digital economy. If businesses wish to com…
The president of the United States should not be the only federal official required to offer the nation’s citizens an annual report on the “State of the Union.”
New requirements for certification in the Beef Quality Assurance program are now in place for beef farmers who sell fed cattle across the U.S. to certain processors. Announcements were made in 2018 by Tyson, National Beef, U.S. Premium Beef and Cargill, which has led to an increase in BQA ce…
When Internal Revenue Service workers returned to their jobs Jan. 28 after the recent, 35-day government shutdown, an estimated 5 million pieces of unopened mail awaited.
At a time when thousands of U.S. dairy operators of all sizes are starved for revenue, declaring bankruptcy or selling off multi-generational operations, the latest inequity is a particularly cruel twist of the knife.
There was no “shutdown” — not in the U.S. government sense, anyway — on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
Last summer, UW Cooperative Extension moved into the UW-Madison as part of the UW System reorganization. This move creates new opportunities for each organization to be a better resource for the state and its communities.
Last year was extremely challenging for dairy. But as the year drew to a close, it ended on a very positive note. On Dec. 20, with National Milk Producers Federation Chairman Randy Mooney in attendance, President Donald Trump signed the new farm bill into law — with dairy the biggest winner.…
Two hundred and forty-three years after the not-yet United States declared its independence in a lengthy letter to England’s King George III, the old enemies are, yet again, new allies.
Epistemology is what we on the farm called “a $10 word.”
As Midwest Dairy wraps up the first year under our strategic plan, it has been exciting to evaluate how, under the guidance of our new vision and mission, we have been able to bring dairy to life and give consumers an excellent dairy experience in many creative ways to help build trust and s…
Man, that ended badly.
Our son’s first-grade class had an assignment to write about a Thanksgiving turkey. Now, our son should have a leg up on his classmates here, because he regularly accompanies me to check our flocks, and this summer, he proudly learned how to catch and hold a turkey by himself.
(The following is a Christmas wish letter recently sent to President Donald Trump from members of the American Dairy Coalition)
Tweeter-in-Chief President Donald J. Trump has been quite clear in his opinion of CNN, the cable television news network. Indeed, Trump’s despise of the network — he thinks its initials stand for Certainly Not News — encourages supporters to use “CNN” as a slander.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, dairy farmers across the country received some certainty in the uncertain world of dairy farming as we begin the new year. But more needs to be done.
This past year, I’ve traveled across Wisconsin to hear directly from our farmers about what they’re up against. It’s clear: Our farmers are facing a crisis.
Note: Originally published in 1995, this column was one of the first remembrances from the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth. It also is the most requested and most reprinted piece I’ve written. By tradition, it returns every year. Merry Christmas.
If the calendar was a baseball game, mid-December would be the bottom of the ninth.
As we move toward the end of yet another financially challenging year in the dairy industry, it’s important to look forward to how we can best address the many challenges before us.
How do we increase healthy, fresh foods in rural America? One way is to identify new opportunities for people to access food. Here are five suggestions for your community.
GIPSA, the badly named, hard-working mule inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is on the move again over objections that the Trump Administration’s ongoing USDA reorganization will bury it — and other, less obscure parts of the department like the Economic Research Service — in new lay…
Times are tough for farmers across the nation, milk prices are low and dairy producers have been hit hard by tariffs on the products they export to some of our major dairy trading partners.
By this point, we are all exhausted by the endless rhetoric about America being a divided nation — a country of haves and have-nots.
America’s farmers and ranchers are counting on Congress to finish strong this year. Just because we call these final weeks a “lame-duck” session, that’s no excuse for members not to finish the job they started.
Years ago, an enterprising neighbor operated a palm reading business from her home with just a secretary, fax machine and telephone. Her business model was simple: After clients faxed their photocopied hand print and sent some form of payment (rumor had it was $20), our neighbor telephoned t…
Consolidation has long been one of the greatest challenges for family farmers and ranchers. Agribusiness mergers reduce innovation, limit choice and increase prices for farming inputs and make it increasingly difficult for farmers to receive a fair price at market.
Nov. 11 marked 100 years since the end of World War I, which U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called “the war to end all wars.”
We live in a time when everything, from the shoes on your feet to where you like to buy your chicken sandwich, seems like a political statement. It can be frustrating that everything has become so political, but it’s also great to see people so engaged in the national discussion. I heard tha…
It’s Thanksgiving week, so let’s be generous: The White House trade policy, marked by its heavy use of import tariffs and presidential tweets, continues to confound economists and trading partners alike.
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.
Open Letter to Wisconsin Representatives on Farming and the Environment:
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…
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.
“Everything in this newspaper is important to someone.”
“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?