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Sunday, October 22, 2017
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  • CARMEL – As Americans we have morphed our right to free speech into a national inclination to grumble about our government and the ineptitude of bureaucrats who are charged with regulating industries that they know nothing about.  Rarely do we agree, at least out loud, with any government action that affects us directly. But that is exactly what consumers should be doing in the wake of a recent Food and Drug Administration decision to change a proposed rule that addressed the packaging, processing and handling requirements for any human food by-products consumed by animals.  Significantly, the proposed rule would have placed severe restrictions on the use of leftover grain by brewers and distillers as animal feed.
        
  • CARMEL - In late March most of the United States pretty much ignored the 100th anniversary of the birth of Norman Borlaug, the man most responsible for the current phenomenon of engineered food in the world’s diet. The one notable exception to the general indifference to Borlaug’s centennial was that of his native state of Iowa, which used the occasion to enshrine him as one of that state’s two honorees in the National Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol.  To do so, Iowa had to remove the statue of James Harlan, a college president, U.S. senator and secretary of the interior in the Andrew Johnson administration. (For the record, Indiana’s two honorees are Civil War Gov. Oliver P. Morton and Civil War general and Ben Hur author Lew Wallace). Dr. Norman Borlaug, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was a plant scientist and innovator who is widely known as the father of the Green Revolution.
  • CARMEL - A few years ago I became convinced that industrial hemp was inappropriately banned because of its reprobate cousin marijuana and that its legalization represented a growth opportunity for Indiana agriculture.  Since my retirement from Indiana Farm Bureau in October, I have assumed a greater level of involvement in the effort to legalize industrial hemp’s production in Indiana. What is industrial hemp?  The bill currently being considered by the legislature (SB 357) defines industrial hemp as a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% tetrarahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration.  THC is the chemical that induces the drug effect of marijuana where its concentration levels generally range between 5% and 20%, although higher concentrations occasionally occur.
  • CARMEL – On Friday this week, President Obama will travel to the campus of Michigan State University to sign a bill titled the Agricultural Act of 2014 but almost universally known as the 2014 Farm Bill. Both of these titles are misleading because they imply the bill deals primarily, if not exclusively, with farming or agriculture. While it’s true that the bill is the single most important piece of federal legislation addressing agriculture, it is significantly more than that. The final bill took over two years of congressional negotiations and left both liberals and conservatives frustrated that the eventual compromise failed to address some of their primary concerns. The most expensive, and therefore most confrontational, among the bill’s dozen titles is that entitled simply “Nutrition.”
  • INDIANAPOLIS - My first reaction to President Barak Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening was to wonder why agriculture received no mention whatsoever. With our dysfunctional Congress congratulating itself on finally reaching a compromise on a farm bill earlier in the day, it seems the President could have used that as a timely example of the bipartisan cooperation he has been demanding. But no, I heard no mention of it whatsoever. Since my mind wandered occasionally during the evening, I thought I may have missed at least a passing reference to ag, so I downloaded a copy of the speech and ran a word search. Neither “farm” nor “agriculture” made it into an hour long discourse by our nation’s chief executive on the state of our union.
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  • Gen. Kelly describes when a U.S. soldier dies
    “Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud. They’re packed in ice, typically at the air head, and then they’re flown to — usually Europe, where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service. The casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member. Most of you as Americans don’t know them. There’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate but required.” - White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, describing what happens when a United States soldier dies on the battlefield. His comments came after President Trump criticized his predecessors for not calling bereaved military families and came under fire for a conversation with the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month.
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  • Hoosier deficit hawks turning into doves
    For years, no, make that decades, we’ve heard Hoosier Republicans from Mike Pence to Luke Messer and Todd Rokita decry the national debt and budget deficits. We’ve gone from a balanced budget when President Clinton left office in 2001 to a deficit of over $1 trillion when President George W. Bush left office in 2009. That’s deficits with a T rather than a B.

    On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a budget plan that will add $1.5 trillion in new debt over the next decade. There was nary a peep of criticism from the entire Indiana Republican delegation. So all these years, the deficit hawk stuff was just BS. Back in 2012, Rokita traveled with a power point presentation on the evils of deficits. "The debt hole is too great now that you can't just grow your way out," Rokita told the NWI Times. 

    In 2016, Pence explained, “I think the fact that under this past administration was of which Clinton was a part, we've almost doubled the national debt is atrocious. Indiana has balanced budgets. We cut taxes, we've made record investments in education and in infrastructure, and I still finish my term with $2 billion in the bank.”

    Last March, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham asked Vice President Pence, "Have you gone from a deficit hawk to a deficit dove?" Pence responded, "No, not in the least. Let me say the President's full budget will be out in a few weeks. The budget outline that was sent to Capitol Hill earlier this week is deficit neutral."

    This is where the “alternative facts” come into play and all the hawks become doves, charging up the federal credit card for the kids and grandkids to grapple with. - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
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