I’m the editor of High Plains Journal and write a weekly column about issues related to agriculture.


The power of Mother Nature

It was almost like a cruel joke. Last weekend the sky darkened to the west. It was something we haven’t seen that often in the last few years in western Kansas. In fact, we didn’t even take it seriously. My family and I saw the clouds and perhaps to tempt fate, we left a few bags of feed in the back of the pickup parked in our driveway. <more>

The right priorities – July 23, 2012

In my world, it’s nearly county fair time–a.k.a. Stay-up-late-washing-clothes-finishing-projects-stress-to-the-max-week. Anyone who has been a 4-H or FFA parent knows the feeling of the week before the fair. <more>

The blame game – July 2, 2012

For several years now, I have heard much ado about the importance of farmers connecting with consumers–some of it in this very column. Ag industry folks say something like, “Consumers need to find out that their food doesn’t come from the grocery store.” <more>

Fear restricting our future – June 25, 2012

Do you ever find yourself thinking about the modern technology that we have today and what our lives would be like without it? <more>

In the halls of Congress – June 18, 2012

Here I am in Dodge City, Kan. I sit at my desk, putting together words into a column about agriculture issues. But exactly one week ago I was about 1,400 miles to the east in a city where they, too, were discussing agriculture issues–Washington, D.C. I was in Washington as a part of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference. <more>

A slice of reason – June 4, 2012

Everybody loves a pizza. What makes it even better? Sharing it with friends. And what’s even better than that? Sharing pizza for a good cause. <more>

Experience firsthand – May 28, 2012

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.”–John Keats. In the years that I’ve been a writer for High Plains Journal, I’ve had some fantastic opportunities to participate in the agriculture industry firsthand. Enough so that I’m comfortable saying there’s no replacement for experience. <more>

Food guilt – May 21, 2012

The group of mothers was like any other in major metropolitan area. They were both working moms and stay-at-home moms with worries that you would expect from women who had children growing before their eyes. This group of women had agreed to be a part of a focus group of people who were the major food purchasers in their home. My dad was a part of the farmer panel observing the focus group. <more>

It’s just about time – May 14, 2012

It seems I can’t go anywhere these days without someone asking me if we’re going to be sponsoring All Aboard Wheat Harvest coverage this summer.

And the answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” You’ll be happy to know, the time is drawing near when we will have weekly wheat harvest updates in the publication. We are also happy to announce that Syngenta is the new sponsor for All Aboard Wheat Harvest coverage. <more>

How full is your glass? – May 7, 2012

Farmers amaze me. They have faith–always–in the potential of their farm. They must have that kind of faith, or they wouldn’t be able to take the kind of risk they do each year. But this year, it looks as though most everyone in the agriculture industry thinks the glass is more full than it has been in some time. <more>

Going global – April 23, 2012

It’s a global market. If I’ve heard that statement once I’ve heard it dozens of times. It’s true. Today’s farmers and ranchers see their prices affected by a number of global factors–including global trade. <more>

Time to engage – April 16, 2012

I say this a lot. But even if you’ve heard it before, just take the next three minutes to listen–or more accurately, read–one more time. Agricultural producers need to engage. <more>

Time cards – April 9, 2012

A few years ago, I interned with an Extension office here in Kansas. OK, so it was more than a “few” years ago, but that’s not the point of this story. As a part of my job, we kept track of the hours we spent on different programs. <more>

How a company and its workers got slimed – April 2, 2012

By now, you’ve heard of “pink slime.” More accurately, the beef product is called lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) and has been around for years. And, as we all know, a good story to scare consumers is good for ratings. Certainly, part of a reporter’s job is to be a watch dog for citizens. But in the journalism classes that I took, we talked a lot about telling the truth. The “pink slime” scare focuses very little on the truth. <more>

Spring into discussion –  March 26, 2012

Last week marked a day that has been anxiously anticipated in rural households everywhere since about November: the first day of spring. Of course, most in the agriculture profession know that no calendar date really dictates the beginning of warmer weather. We operate more on soil temperatures and cues from Mother Nature. But March 20 is the calendar’s official start to spring. <more>

Working together – March 12, 2012

In the midst of the farm bill discussion, there seems to be an interesting undercurrent–some consensus and a desire to work together. Farm organizations across the board seem to be expressing a desire to work together as a united front for American farmers. <more>

It’s all about education – March 5, 2012

Today was a good day. I spent it with over 200 farmers in Enid learning about canola. Tomorrow, I’ll be among over 5,000 more farmers at the 2012 Commodity Classic. There are few things I enjoy more than spending time among agricultural producers. <more>

Conoco, a boy and a legend – Feb. 27, 2012

My very first animal science class at Kansas State University was in Weber 123. I filed into the big lecture hall and found my seat among many other wide-eyed freshmen. At the front of the room hung a single photo–one that was taken before I was even born. It showed a young boy, a smoky-colored steer, and a man I would soon learn was a legend in the industry. <more>

Looking forward, not back – Feb. 20, 2012

I strongly suspect that most of the people reading this column had better things to do on Sunday night than watch the Grammys—not that you don’t appreciate a good tune in the pickup or tractor cab. But if you had, you would have seen a video by Chipotle restaurants set to Willie Nelson crooning the song “The Scientist.” <more>

Back home and back to work – Feb. 13, 2012

I need to correct a statement from an earlier column. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about attending the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and said, “Nearly 7,000 of my closest friends in the beef industry will be there too.” I was wrong. It turns out over 8,200 cattle industry professionals came to the convention. That breaks the record by at least 1,000 people. <more>

Another attack – Feb. 6, 2012

Another video released and another industry that has to spend time and effort defending its actions and standards. If it seems as though it is becoming more frequent–that’s because it is. I heard a few hours before the release of the video and press release that the Humane Society of the United States was planning a press conference. After having been through this before, I knew what to expect. And so did many in the agricultural community. <more>

Road trip – Jan. 30, 2012

It’s the time of year to hit the road–and my road trip this week will take me to Music City (a.k.a. Nashville) for the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, Feb. 1 to 4. <more>

Senseless violence – Jan. 23, 2012

On Jan. 8, someone set fire and destroyed 14 semi trucks and livestock trailers on the Harris Ranch in California. It was wrong and those responsible should be punished severely. That’s it. Bottom line. End of story. <more>

USDA’s blueprint – Jan. 16, 2012

For many Americans, the beginning of the year is always a time to set goals for improving their lives. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is no exception. This week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service. <more>

Truth in advertising – Jan. 9, 2012

If you don’t like what you see, it’s best to criticize. Or at least that appears to case with a new McDonald’s campaign featuring the farmers and ranchers who supply the fast food chain. <more>


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