How to change what you are growing in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Growing crops and raising animals is hard. I struggle with a garden every summer. I enjoy doing it, but it also reminds me of how hard it is to grow a sustainable amount of food. The ability to turn a seed into a marketable crop requires a lot of skill, being able to do it profitably is even harder.

This week on The Grower and the Economist, Peter and I talk about “what to grow” and how that mix has changed because of the coronavirus. Many small and medium-sized growers sell to a restaurant or sell through a farmers’ market…


Current corn planting acre estimates could hurt prices in the fall

Just a few weeks ago, meaning — before COVID-19 changed everything, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projected U.S. corn acres to reach 97 million acres this year. That is an increase of 7.3 million acres over last year. I know at least a few corn seed and corn genetics companies that were pretty excited about this near-record number. Two years into the U.S.-China Trade war, soybean acres have fallen and corn is king again!

When the USDA released that Prospective Planting report they had no idea that OPEC would fail to reach an agreement to cut oil supply…


Missing workers, changing supply chains, and empty shelves all realities of coronavirus

Photo by Giuseppe Argenziano on Unsplash

The implications of the spreading coronavirus are all around us. Shelter-at-home orders are coming out. Schools and restaurants are closed. And everything from conferences to religious gatherings to sporting events have been postponed. The virus, the panic, and our new behaviors are stressing our food system and demanding a lot of changes very quickly.

Farm Workers

We are weeks away from planting season in the Northern Hemisphere. The United States and Canada depend on a lot of temporary workers to get all of the plants planted. The United States issues about 250,000 H-2A visas each year for foreign temporary agricultural workers. …


Spanish olive oils facing new tariffs, possible impacts for American dinners

Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Americans eat 90 million gallons of olive oil per year. It even has a cool acronym- EVOO, popularized by TV cooking shows. Since 1990, the demand for olive oil has grown by 250%. Much of this demand comes from American’s quest for healthy diets. In this search, many found the Mediterranean diet, possibly the healthiest diet in history. This diet includes a lot of olive oil, which is made from pressing ripe olives.

Olive oil production in the United States is relatively small, only five million gallons. To make up this demand the United States imports olives from major olive…


For over a year now, the stock market has more or less trade sideways, constantly weighted down by profit loses steaming from the on-going U.S. trade war. Other trade issues, like Brexit, potential auto-tariffs, and slowing export volumes continue to hurt export-driven economies like Germany and China, have also kept the proverbial lid on the markets.

This week, the top came off. The U.S. indices reached new highs. The U.S. Federal Reserve is going to keep interest rates low. Germany is showing stronger economic data. The U.S. jobs report was good. Brexit was delayed. …


U.S.-China trade talks on the rocks again.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

One month ago, trade talks between the United States and China wrapped up in D.C. The two sides announced that a comprehensive trade deal between the United States and China would come in three parts. The first part was mostly agreed upon and the two sides set a rapid deadline of mid-November to physically write the agreement and sign it. Previously, U.S. President Trump was opposed to a mini-trade deal, but after the success of his mini-trade deal with Japan a month earlier, he seemed a little more open to the idea.

It’s been a month, and there is still…


Democrats want to help the middle-class, here’s how free trade can help

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With one year until the 2020 election, all the candidates in the Democratic Primary are working hard to finalize their primary platforms. From healthcare to climate change, almost all of the remaining candidates have released detailed plans on what they see as the most important challenges for the United States. Most candidates have developed extensive plans related to fortifying the middles class, whether by strengthening unions, providing a middle-class tax cut, or regulating how much corporations can pay their lowest-earning workers. …


Now Beijing must decide how to use this opportunity to its advantage in U.S.-China trade war discussions

Photo by Robert Nyman on Unsplash

On Friday, November 1st, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that China is allowed to put $3.6 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports, bringing this six-year arbitration to an end. It is the first decision that China won in front of the WTO and the third-largest settlement awarded in WTO history. These tariffs are also completely outside of the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, and now everyone is watching to see how they will impact the negotiations.

This ruling was not a surprise. In May 2017, the WTO made an initial ruling in favor of China…


Protests on four continents leave questions about the state of the global economy

Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

Newspapers from The Guardian to The South China Morning Post are talking about more and more protests around the world. The playbook for each event is very similar. First, there’s an event that seems small, but upsets a lot of people. In Hong Kong, it was an extradition bill. In Chile, it was a $0.04 fare increase on metro tickets. In Lebanon, it was a tax on Voice over IP calls. And in India, onion inflation is skyrocketing.

Then, young people begin protesting. They are organizing through encrypted messaging apps and filling the streets to protest the proposed measures or…


The Democrats should be a pro-trade party

Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

The Iowa Caucus is approaching, the unofficial kickoff to the 2020 Presidential election. So far, healthcare has monopolized the Democratic debates, leaving a lot of questions about where each candidate stands. Trump’s trade wars and protectionist policies have changed international trade more than any other president since World War II. The world wants to know where each of the Democrats stands on this important issue.

Historically, Democrats have been less supportive of free trade agreements than Republicans. Free trade agreements encourage international trade, which changes the industrial landscape. Under a free trade agreement, the United States would expand production of…

Michelle Klieger

I’m an economist by training, a nerd at heart, and now a writer.

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