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A week before American voters decided whether the mid-term 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.

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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.

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Can you believe it will be six years ago in February that a Ram Trucks advertisement that ran during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl brought everyone in agriculture together for a whole two minutes?

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After this year’s variable weather that hampered weed control efforts, it’s easy to find fields with weed escapes, specifically problem weeds like waterhemp, Palmer amaranth and marestail.

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The 2018 farm bill is being written in an intensely partisan environment. We see it in the campaign rallies, we see it in the ads on television and we see the results of partisanship in day-to-day interactions when neighbors are afraid to talk to each other if they are on opposite sides of the divide.

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Most Illinois soybean producers have to navigate the challenge of finding and keeping quality health care and accessible health insurance. For some of us, that means a family member must seek an off-farm job that provides a family medical plan.

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I had the privilege of spending a day at the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis. I got to speak with students from across the country on some pressing issues facing agriculture and rural America.

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To grasp how bearish October was for the stock market, consider just a few of the headlines posted last week. From Barron’s: “What to expect from the stock market after a brutal October.”

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We have some important decisions to make next week. Like everyone else over these past few months, I have been bombarded with radio and television campaign ads, editorials in print and online publications, an avalanche of political satire and quite often mean-spirited debate on social media sites — not to mention dreaded “robocalls.” 

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I’ve been writing this column since I was elected president of the Illinois Farm Bureau in 2013. In that time, I’ve used this pulpit to speak about conservation and Illinois farmers’ sustainability efforts many, many times.

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This has been a difficult year, even before Hurricanes Florence and Michael struck the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast. Farm income has been cut in half compared to a few years ago, but farm expenses haven’t “gotten the memo.”

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As we look forward to Congress making progress on writing a new farm bill, it would be reasonable for farmers to wonder if farm bills make any difference in the price that they receive for their crops.

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On Oct. 3, stocks — as measured by the Dow Jones — peaked out, rolled over and dropped sharply. On the same day, so did crude oil prices, a leading indicator for commodities, per se, and so did the CRB Index that is to the commodity markets as the Dow is to the stock market.

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There was a time when high-speed internet was a luxury, but that time has long passed. Broadband is essential for doing business today and having access to the latest resources and information.

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Many farmers have seen the importance of having and using an accrual-based financial projection for their operation. This tool helps isolate a single year so that the farm leader can understand their operation’s true profitability.

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This week is the 89th anniversary of the Great Crash of Oct. 24, 1929. To understand how bearish that particular day was, consider the following: On that fateful day, the Dow Jones fell 12 percent and continued to grind lower for several years thereafter.

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Ground beef, ribeye steaks and sirloin steaks labeled hormone free are prominently displayed in a refrigerated end cap in the meat department at my local grocery store.

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“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.

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It’s the question we all ask — how do I effectively use all the data, particularly yield information, to formulate decisions for the next growing season and beyond?

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A book that we have recently read, “No Small Hope: Towards the Universal Provision of Basic Goods” by Kenneth Reinert, makes the argument that there is a minimal set of basic goods and services that should be put into the hands of everyone in the world. Reinert is professor of public policy and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

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Election Day is just a few weeks away, and I hope each of you has it circled on your calendar — or maybe you’ve gotten your mail-in ballot already.

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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.

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Across the Big Four — stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities — the volatility is surreal. Prices are moving sharply higher or lower daily with no end in sight to the big up and down moves taking place.

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Every two years, it’s the same story: political ads assaulting your ears and eyes on the radio and TV, yard signs cluttering the ditches of county and state highways, and candidates popping up at every meeting, get-together and event, stumping for your vote.

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Registration for American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show opened recently, and we’re excited for the celebration in New Orleans.

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Several times in recent years, I have had the opportunity to attend the Future of Farming Dialogue hosted by Bayer Crop Science in Monheim, Germany. 

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

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When it was announced last week by the Labor Department that the September jobs pegged the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest level since 1969, nearly 50 years ago, stocks and bonds did a nosedive. Bond prices fell to their lowest level in four years with mortgage rates hitting a new seven-year high.

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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 Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.

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The Human Resources division at the company for which I work recently sent a survey to all employees to glean a better understanding of our wants and needs for insurance and company benefits.

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It’s no secret that more of us are using technology on our farms. Continuously adopting new ways of doing things helps keep Illinois soybean producers profitable.

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Here we go again. For the second time in a decade, we are down to the wire on the farm bill. While members of the House-Senate Conference Committee say they are close to reaching a deal, there are no guarantees.

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At Indiana Farm Bureau, we are dedicated to our mission of proactively advocating for agricultural and rural needs. Recently, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his infrastructure agenda for 2019 that very clearly addresses the infrastructure needs of farmers and their rural communities.

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Fall is one of my favorite seasons on the farm. From calving to harvest, it’s a time to celebrate life on the farm and the results of months of planning and tending.

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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.”

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As we write this column, the chairs and ranking members of the agricultural committees of the House and the Senate and their respective staff members are huddled together working to negotiate a compromise farm bill that can be accepted by a conference committee and then approved by the members of both chambers.

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Farmers and ranchers have needed a fix to our broken immigration system for more than two decades now. Not only are we still waiting on a fix, but in that time the problem has gotten worse, even as job numbers continue to grow across the country.

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Most reading this column are farming, ranching or involved to some degree in production agriculture or agribusiness. As such, you are exposed to what many would consider a unique workplace. Unfortunately, it is also a hazardous workplace.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast 2018 net farm income at $65.7 billion in its Aug. 30 data release, the third lowest level over the 2009-2018 period — 2016: $61.6 billion; and 2009: $62.2 billion. This is a decline of $9.8 billion from a year earlier.

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Legendary speculator Roy W. Longstreet’s classic 1973 book “Viewpoints of a Commodity Trader” included a chapter entitled “Realizing Bull Markets.” Longstreet wrote: “Realizing markets can be either bear or bull markets. There have been more realizing declining markets then realizing advances.” And the No. 1 characteristic of such a trade, according to Longstreet, is a “fundamentally bullish situation.”

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