Thursday, February 11, 2016

Against Corporate Farming

From Blog for Rural America, what do Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa all have in common?

It might seem that they are the homes of big corporate farms. But no, they all passed laws restricting corporate farms within the last 100 years.  The post explains some of the challenges to such laws.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Love It--the Eternal Silos of FSA and NRCS

Just realized I hadn't heard from NASCOE in a while so I checked the website, which has been completely redone.

Here's what I love.

NATIONAL OFFICE RESPONSE: (combined sources)
At this point, FSA employees with access to existing systems can access FSAfarm+ using their employee eAuth Level 2 login; however, we have not added NRCS employees to the list of authorized users. The website was built as a customer self-service portal and FSA employee access has been authorized so employees may assist our customers with questions regarding the website. NRCS FSAfarm+ access has been discussed with leadership and they are looking into obtaining the required approvals.
They've got a new process for submitting field office concerns and getting responses from DC.  This response is to a request that FSA give NRCS access to their records.  This was Sec. Madigan's concept back in 1991.  As you can see from the response, those silos are still standing tall.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Revenant Is an Oscar Favorite?

Just saw the movie.  Maybe an old geezer doesn't have the patience for 5 minute shots with nothing much happening, but I did not like it.  Yes, DiCaprio's efforts must be respected and I wouldn't have a problem with him getting best actor.  And the picture making is fine, though the scenery is cold.  But a movie is supposed to tell a story and there wasn't much there, certainly not enough for 2 hours 30 minutes.  Maybe chop an hour out and it would play, but there's no way I see it as a best movie candidate.

Great Work--NRCS

"Agriculture’s “Natural Resources Conversation Service dropped 13 places to rank 25th overall in the 2016 Index – no other agency fell further,” the analysts said"

This is from a Government Executive article on a survey of plain language in government websites.

Not sure how well done this is--the study dings USDA generally, but only NRCS is listed in the detailed results table.

Monday, February 08, 2016

How Government (Congress) Doesn't Work

Politico has an article on unauthorized agencies.  The books say Congress sets policy and authorizes an agency to carry it out in legislation developed by the legislative committees.  Then the appropriations committees allocate the money in yearly appropriations bills.  The reality is the policy committees may shirk their duty.  Why?  It's explained in the text.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Times on Cover Crops and Finance Industry Logic

NY Times has an article on increased use of cover crops by farmers to build soil, increase water retention, and reduce erosion.  Author cites big farms--3K to 10K acres.  The cover crops seem to be a mixture.  And spring planting is really no-till, though that's not clear in the article, where no-till is rather dismissed.

I remember in Nash County, NC, I think it was during my fall visit to get oriented to ASCS field operations, the CED went out to a sawmill.  They were shaving logs to make the thin wood strips used in making baskets (this was before plastics).  The CED signed up a couple of the workers to cover crop practices which were cost-shared under the old Agricultural Conservation Program.  Under cost-sharing ASCS would pay a part of the per-acre cost for installing the practice  while the farmer paid the rest. Nixon and Earl Butz tried to kill the ACP, but eventually settled for eliminating some practices, They focused on the one which increased production, which included cover crops.  Their logic was similar to Greenspan's logic in supporting deregulation in the finance industry:  rational financiers wouldn't take irrational risks; Butz said rational farmers would spend their own money to install cover crops. 

Globalization--LED Lamps

Ordered two LED lamps from Amazon along with some other things.  Specified free delivery as we weren't in any hurry for any of the items.  All but the lamps have arrived so I just checked Amazon to see where they were.  They're in transit from China with a 3-5 week travel time.  That amazes me, just seeing globalization and automation working in practice.  (Why it's more amazing to see an order delivered directly from China than the same order delivered from a warehouse in the US which originally came from China, I don't know.)

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Why the Left Dominates the Humanities?

Consider this excerpt from the conservative Republican get-together, as transcribed byMichelle Cottle in the Atlantic:
" During the Freedom Caucus Q&A, a young man stood up—prompting moderator Fred Barnes to crack, “You’re the only one under 60 who’s going to ask” a question—to say he would soon be graduating with his master’s degree and wanted the panelists’ thoughts on how to improve job prospects for his generation.Mulvaney responded by asking the guy what he’d studied. “U.S. history,” the young man replied. Solid, patriotic, non-multi-culti degree to make the likes of conservative icon and history professor Newt Gingrich proud, right? Not any more. Representative Mark Meadows promptly teased, “That’s the problem!” Everybody laughed. Mulvaney then launched into a lecture about how, back in his day, banks wouldn’t give a guy a student loan unless the applicant offered assurances that he would be able to pay it back some day. But now that the federal government just hands over the money, nobody bothers worrying about whether or not they’re pursuing a worthless degree. “This is not to denigrate or demean folks who want to study philosophy or U.S. history or anything,” Mulvaney assured the young scholar. “But you need to sort of consider job prospects when making those decisions.” It’s all well and good to go study “sub-Saharan African basket weaving,” quipped Mulvaney, but afterward “don’t come looking to us and say, ‘Where are the jobs for sub-Saharan basket-weavers?’”
  Discriminattion against conservatives in the academy is one theory offered to account for a perceived dominance by liberals.  This response is an anecdote pointing to two other explanations: conservatives disdain academics and put money first.  Of course what makes the anecdote special is a conservative calling US history a worthless degree.

Friday, February 05, 2016

McGovernism Is Not Progressive?

A piece on the definitions of "progressive" in Slate.  I'm bemused by what the movement from Clinton's work for McGovern in 1972 to the current state of the party says about our politics and our society.

McGovern, for those too young to remember, ran on a platform of, among other things, ending the war in Vietnam and a guaranteed minimum income.  He also got defeated in a landslide, losing his own state IIRC.  Hillary and Bill Clinton were Texas organizers for McGovern, may even have been the state chairs but memory fogs.  Also for "amnesty [for draft dodgers], abortion, and legalization of pot|".

I'd forgotten, but McGovern beat Eugene McCarthy, Shirley Chisolm, the first black presidential candidate, and Patsy Mink, the first Asian-American candidate.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Cottonseed Revisited

Chris Clayton reports on the cottonseed/oilseed question--Vilsack says OGC says he doesn't have authority to decide that cottonseed is an oilseed eligible for farm programs.  Chris quotes some of the law which he reads as supporting the cotton position.  In my experience, whenever politicians exert enough pressure, the lawyers find a way to justify what they want done; that's what they learn in law school.