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ST. LOUIS — I’m on the electronic mailing list of a group that calls itself the International Monsanto Tribunal. It consists, far as I can tell, of some European critics of Monsanto, the giant agrochemical company based in St. Louis. Now and then I receive unsolicited emails from the group informing me of its plans to put Monsanto on trial for “crimes against humanity.” The whole thing is over-the-top, and simply not worth writing about. Ordinarily, that is.
ST. LOUIS — I’d like to think it’s because ag journalism is important to me. Or maybe it’s because I’m not very smart. Whatever the reason, I’m here in St. Louis at the start of a four-day National Press Foundation fellowship on the Future of Food and Agriculture. The event features 12-hour days filled with activity, much of it outside in the sweltering summer for which St. Louis is notorious. “You’ll be very busy, and it’s hot out,” an NPF official told us.
Of names and privacy They're aircraft without a human pilot aboard, and they go by many names. UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), UASs (unmanned aerial systems) and drones are the most common. For a time, UAVs or UASs were the generally preferred term, in part because many in the industry thought drones carried unwarranted military and privacy concerns. But the public has clearly settled on drones, says Tim Kidwell, editor-in-chief of Drone360, a Milwaukee-based magazine that specializes in the aircraft.
Monsanto, the giant agrochemical and biotechnology company, has been described as both an “evil empire” and a “force for good.” Hate it or love it, Monsanto plays a leading role in U.S. agriculture. I’ll be visiting Monsanto’s research facilities in St. Louis during the week of July 24. I’m among 20 journalists, who come from USA Today, CNN, Politico and a number of large daily newspapers, among other news organizations, selected for a four-day National Press Foundation fellowship on the future of food and agriculture.
THOMPSON, N.D. — The word is lodging. To people who aren’t knowledgable about crops — and the overwhelming majority of Americans aren’t — the word means taking up residence somewhere, usually temporarily and away from home. But if you’re a farmer, or otherwise involved with the production of small grains, lodging refers to the stems of plants falling over from their normal near-vertical orientation or, more simply, plants falling over. The condition, usually caused by heavy winds, can hurt both yields and quality and makes combining more difficult.
I increasingly think that health insurance, not weather or prices, is the thing that most often keeps farmers and ranchers awake at night. My July 5 column looked at this crucial issue in modern ag.
A few years ago, I was listening to a guy talk about his new vehicle. After he called it a truck, I said innocently and automatically, "Oh, you mean your pickup." He glared at me and said, "No, I mean my truck." Well, the dictionary defines a truck as a "wheeled vehicle for moving heavy articles," and a pickup as "small truck that has an open back with low sides." Pickup was a better, more precise term for his vehicle, it seems to me.
This spring, during the annual convention of the North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington, D.C., I listened to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Sen. Debbie Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, talk about the prospects for Senate legislation establishing a nationwide GMO labeling law. They both said that crafting, and then winning approval for, such a bill would be difficult, but doable.
Whenever I talk during the growing season with folks involved in agriculture, I ask how crops in their area are faring. Agweek country is such a big place that I always get a variety of answers. But there’s usually a single, overriding theme: On balance, it’s too wet. Or too dry. Or too hot. Or too cool. Click here to find out what farmers are saying this year...
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Devils Lake, N.D., has always been part of my life. I sometimes came here as a farm kid growing up, and now I come here as an ag journalist to cover the long, ongoing flooding. Devils Lake (the lake and the region’s largest city share the name) has been flooding since the mid 1990s during a protracted wet stretch. I’ve written about it many times, most notably here , drawing national attention.