Opinion: Jury still out on whether Costco’s chicken experiment will fly

“Si Dieu me prête vie, je ferai qu’il n’y aura point de laboureur en mon royaume qui n’ait les moyens d’avoir le dimanche une poule dans son pot!” -King Henry IV

Way back in the 16h century good old King Henry IV of France knew how to appeal to the masses, declaring:  “If God keeps me, I will make sure that no peasant in my realm will lack the means to have a chicken in the pot on Sunday!”

Those sentiments jumped to this side of the pond, becoming something of a point of debate in the 1928 presidential campaign between  Herbert Hoover and Al Smith. Turns out the Republican party in support of Hoover purchased campaign advertisements stating “Republican prosperity has reduced hours and increased eating capacity, silenced discontent, put proverbial “chicken in every pot.”

Smith mocked the ad on the campaign trail, suggesting the average working man could not afford a chicken dinner every Sunday – an argument while certainly true didn’t win him the election. Enter Costco which absolutely adores its $4.99 rotisserie deal.  The chicken is so popular with the public that it has its own Facebook page. In 2014, Costco reported selling 78 million of these processed, four-pound birds a year.

Opinion: U.S. trade shouldn’t be just about the Benjamins

I’ve watched with interest the twists and turns of the U.S.-China trade war. Reportedly, the two nations have made significant progress in sketching out a series of memorandums of understanding on forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade. At the core all these issues have one thing in common – money.  In a nutshell: How will the China U.S. trade pie and associated issues be financially sliced and diced? That’s fine as far as it goes, but making U.S. trade with China about the Benjamins is a massively lost opportunity to deal with the nuclear threat that is North Korea.

Opinion: Missouri’s meat law panders to beef industry

I think tofu (curdled soy milk) is delicious.  Tofu is a foodies’ blank canvas, a vehicle for other ingredients and bold flavors, that create healthy, creative meals.  And it can serve as a tremendous meat substitute.   

And that’s where Missouri is drawing a line in the sand.  Missouri has become the first state in the nation to make it a crime for food manufacturers to label their products as “meat” if “not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Violators face fines up to $1,000 and a year in state slammer.

Opinion: California Prop 12 could reshape nation’s commerce of eggs, veal and pork

Anyone who has followed California agricultural politics in recent years knows residents have a soft spot in their humane hearts for animals raised for production or slaughter. That’s baby cows, fowls, and sows y’all. California fired its first shot for humane treatment of farm animals way back in 2008 with the Humane Society led ballot initiative Proposition 2.  California voters overwhelming passed Prop 2 63-to-36 percent banning confinement of egg-laying hens, calves raised for veal, and pregnant pigs. The initiative did not provide specific square-foot guidelines as to what constitutes confinement but rather required that animals needed to turn freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

Opinion: White House ag bailout will not spell relief

One hardly knows where to begin commenting on USDA’s $12 billion farm aid package designed to help farmers and ranchers financially blindsided by the POTUS’s trade war with China. The Market Facilitation Program is complicated but here are the highlights:

MFP includes $4.77 billion in direct payments to farmers.  Soybean farmers get the lion share – $3.6 billion.  On the other hand, the total allotted to corn farmers is $95 million. Pork producers fair little better at just over $290 million. Beef producers get zero. Soybean farmers will receive $1.65 a bushel, wheat producers 14-cents a bushel and corn farmers 1-cent a bushel on half of their production.  Hog farmers get $8 a pig.  For row crops, the money will not be paid till after harvest.  And oh yeah, it’s capped at a maximum of $125,000 a farmer.

Opinion: Will Bayer rue Monsanto purchase?

Ironically I was on some R-and-R in St. Louis, headquarters to Monsanto, when a California jury dropped the mother of all H-bombs on Bayer’s newest acquisition:  Monsanto’s flagship weed killer Roundup contributed to high school groundsman Dewayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Put bluntly the jury ruled Roundup causes cancer and it awarded terminally-ill Johnson $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages.  Yup $289 million total. Bayer, which purchased Monsanto just two months ago, has taken a massive financial hit, losing more than 10 percent of share value. So how did Monsanto and Bayer lose?