Most of us who live or have lived in rural America understand that the pace is usually a little slower and the cost of living is much less expensive than urban areas like Washington, D.C., New York or Los Angeles. And that's often one of the lifestyle reasons people choose to live in small towns or places off the beaten path. But what if you want to live in rural America and sell your products or services? Or what if you just want to stay connected with friends and relatives who live elsewhere? It's certainly possible, if you have a high-speed connection to the internet.
Driving across state and county roads is a great way to see some of the most beautiful spots in America and gauge how different parts of the country are doing, both economically and socially. It's not for anyone who is in a hurry. However, it's something that my husband and I do quite frequently because driving to many places in rural America is usually easier than flying. For example, it would take a couple of flights and several hours of drive time even if we tried to fly to our farm near Almont, N.D., or my hometown of Marengo, Iowa.
It's official: After months of bashing the North American Free Trade Agreement on the campaign trail last year, the Trump administration informed Congress in mid-May that it intends to begin renegotiating the decades-old trade pact with our neighbors in Mexico and Canada. The much-anticipated notification gives Congress a 90-day window to work with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce Department and other agencies to help develop priorities in overhauling the pact with two of our largest trading partners.
Sonny Perdue was confirmed as the 31st Secretary of Agriculture just over two weeks ago, but he's already had dozens of U.S. Department of Agriculture meetings, traveled to Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas, met with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, and even sat down with a few media outlets for one-on-one interviews. Our Agri-Pulse team interviewed Perdue on May 3 to learn more about the former Georgia governor and his key priorities, much of which he said were shaped during visits with 75 Senators as part of his lengthy confirmation process.
Almost everyone agrees that it's a bad idea to shut down the federal government. The last shutdown, which lasted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, stopped all but "excepted" programs and personnel from working and created a whirlwind of uncertainty across the country. But as the continuing resolution that's currently funding the government is set to expire on April 28, congressional negotiators and the White House are finding it difficult to find compromise on key issues.
Savvy Cargill observers have watched the historically press-sensitive private company steadily gain a more public and media-friendly presence in recent years. But, as the global agribusiness giant learned last month, offering customers and consumers more information — in the form of a tweet — can come back to bite you. The Twitter "storm" started with Cargill retweeting a story and noting that the company works "closely" with the Non-GMO Project — a third-party verification source that's known for its butterfly logo on packages and harsh anti-GMO rhetoric.
The recent nomination hearing for Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump's nominee for agriculture secretary, was a relative "love fest" with the Senate Agriculture Committee. He easily fended off questions about Trump's proposed USDA budget cuts and concerns from Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who said it was clear that "rural America was an afterthought," because the president waited until last to name him as a Cabinet pick.
When you look back at how agriculture policy has changed — both domestically and internationally — in the last few decades, there is one name that consistently surfaces: former Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter. But now that husky and dynamic voice has been silenced. All of us in American agriculture lost one of our staunchest advocates and most gifted leaders on March 4, when Yeutter, age 86, passed away after a four-year battle with cancer.