• John Vogel

    Why key anti-GMO leaders turned pro-GMO

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on April 16, 2015

    I confess I can't take full credit for this column. Early this week on Linkin, Ken Martin, director of ag operations at Furmano Foods at Northumberland, Pa., tipped me off about a blog by Hembree Brandon, my counterpart at Delta Farm Press. So I must credit Brandon for some core content. First, tell me who might have made the following statement: “The more food we grow per acre, the better it is for nature. The more food we grow per acre, the less of nature has to be cleared to grow…

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  • John Vogel

    Climate change is really happening. Spring's breaking loose!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on March 16, 2015

    It's not quite a Biblical happening. But most of us are experiencing "unspeakable joy" with winter's sudden break to warmer weather. It's the kind of climate change and global warming that we all want to see. Last week, many were out leveling off and spreading out their snow banks to make them melt away faster – a little desperate for spring, don't you think? Since robins now hang around all winter, they aren't the first signs of spring, anymore. Before the…

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  • John Vogel

    American Agriculturist's favorite tractor poll results are in

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on March 9, 2015

    Yes, I know you're not supposed to brag when you're predictions come true. Forgive me this time. In my previous blog, I predicted that the boomer generation of farmers wouldn't pick the same favorite tractors as older "geezers" in American Agriculturist's poll. Likewise, Generation-Xers and Millennials might lay claim to higher-horse tractors. We put my theory to the test at the recent New York Farm Show by asking visitors to American Agriculturist's exhibit to…

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  • John Vogel

    Tipping over old notions about all-time favorite farm tractors

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 13, 2015

     When I first heard about Farm & Ranch Living's survey on "Top 10 All-Time Favorite Tractors", I figured it would be dominated by old geezers – tractors, I mean. (You never want to insult your elders. After all, they control the money and your future means.) Not much is closer to a farmer's heart than his tractor. Well, maybe his or her dog or spouse might be; but not in every case. That favorite tractor is always easy to pick out even in the shadows of the…

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  • John Vogel

    Keeping an open mind, but struggling, with top 'university farms'

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 4, 2015

    When I spotted the Web story tag, "Top 20 University Farms ", my thoughts immediately went back to my old alma mater and four or five schools that have turned out the world's best and brightest farmers, agribusiness leaders and scientists. And my mind drifted back to those days working in the dairy barn at "Cow College". But whoa! "Cow College" and what I perceived as America's top ag colleges didn't even make the list! Instead, Warren Wilson College…

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  • John Vogel

    5 cures for banishing the 'winter blues'

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on January 20, 2015

     This morning, my wife said "This is the most depressing time of year." Of course, that was before she had her first cup of half-and-half – creamer-loaded coffee. "Now, how do you know that?" I inquired. "Television's 'talking heads' and newspapers say so," she grumbled. "And that depresses me." "Well, maybe the best cure is to turn off the TV and stop reading depressing news," I answered. Her response wasn't what…

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  • John Vogel

    VT dairy farms and governor must meet on 'Lake Champlain manure'

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on January 16, 2015

    For decades, American Agriculturist has extensively covered the ag pollution front, all the way from Canada's border with Vermont to the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. We've featured countless stories of dairy farm conservation and manure management, plus technologies to improve both. With all the help available from Soil and Water Conservation Districts and cost-share funds available, I'm still flabbergasted by the number of dairy farms still spreading manure on frozen ground and…

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  • John Vogel

    Get Your $475,000 Christmas Gift!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on December 19, 2014

    Santa Claus is real! Well, at least his spirit is real – and maybe a tad fleeting. Late Tuesday night as Congress was packing up for the Christmas holiday break, the U.S. Senate put a big bow on a tax package to be delivered to President Obama. The Senate passed a bill extending the Section 179 accelerated depreciation limit back to the original $500,000 limit. That's up from the current $25,000 limit. Assuming President Obama signs the extension, you can now write-off up to…

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  • John Vogel

    Put A Drone, Uh UAV, On Your Christmas List?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on December 4, 2014

    Unmanned aerial vehicles may be the hottest and coolest farm toys out there this winter. Purists and marketers call them UAVs so they're not confused with the big boys – military surveillance and bomb-carrying drones. But chill out unless you've enough cash to buy a heifer with an unknown pedigree. You'll have to pony-up close to $300 to park just an entry-level quadcopter under your Christmas tree -- without needed accessories. Let's cut straight to the bottom line…

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  • John Vogel

    EPA Loads Cleaner U.S. Waters With Red Ink

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on November 12, 2014

    U.S. EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers have been hammered left and right over their proposed expanded definition of "waters of the United States". President Obama and environmental groups dived in with insistence and screams in favor of regulating every ditch, gully and mostly-dry creek. That's the "left" – in my opinion. Everybody wants clean water. So I'll venture into mid-stream on this issue. "This year's water emergencies should shake us out of…

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  • John Vogel

    If Only Uncle Sam Would Think Like A Farmer

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on November 7, 2014

    Joni Ernst's "I've castrated pigs" campaign ad for Iowa's U.S. Senator seat was dynamite!  Her agrarian thinking blew away her opponent Bruce Braley, the heir-apparent, four-term U.S. congressman. Filmed in front of a neighbor's pigs, Ernst said: "It's a mess, dirty, noisy and it stinks. No, not these pigs – Washington, D.C. And when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork." Then came the punchline: "Washington is full of big…

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  • John Vogel

    7 Reasons To 'Get The Heck Out' And Vote

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on October 20, 2014

    First off, I'm probably "preaching to the faithfuls" since rural Americans tend to be above-average attendees at election poll sites. But if you've been less faithful attendees in recent times, November 4 is the day to redeem yourself. If you detect some urgency in this message, good! It's warranted, and here are seven reasons why: * If you didn't vote in the last national/state elections, your apathy may be why you have elected officials and policies you're…

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  • John Vogel

    Ag's Next-Gen Is In Sustainable Farming Hands

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on October 13, 2014

    I'm confident that America’s family farms will be sustainable because they continue to be in good hands. Many of today's farm moms and dads are doing a superb job of “training up their children in the ways they should go.” How do I know that? Everywhere I travel, I see parents planting seeds of knowledge and practical know-how at early ages. Most of those I see have a keen sense of what sustainable farming is simply because they want the transition to their next-gens…

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  • John Vogel

    No One Vacations From Farming

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on September 24, 2014

    Suffering from jet lag, I dragged back into my office on Monday after two weeks in the British Isles. I was so glad to finally touch down back in America – especially after standing in three horridly long security clearance lines for nearly three hours in Ireland's Dublin International Airport. Most of us find it nearly impossible to get away from our businesses for two straight weeks. I've done it maybe four times in 40 years. At the urging of my wife who really wanted to see…

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  • John Vogel

    Ever Seen Three-eared Corn?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on August 29, 2014

    It's kinda dumb. I still get excited when I go into a corn field and spot stands with a lot of plants feeding two ears of corn. It's just the farm kid in me. But this year, I've spotted plants with three full ears, either on one stalk or on plants with multiple stalks. So you know, I don't count sucker years. And it points to the awesome genetic potential of corn plants to go where no corn grower has gone before with a perfect or near-perfect growing season. And that's…

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  • John Vogel

    Farn Progress Show: Greatest Show Of American Agriculture

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on August 18, 2014

    If you've never been to a Farm Progress Show, you haven't seen one of the most awesome displays of American agriculture's future. Yes, I know. You've been to winter shows, Ag Progress Days and even Empire Farm Days. But to put it bluntly, you "ain't seen nothing yet". You've never seen agricultural technology on the scale and magnitude that you'll find planted in the corn fields of central Iowa next week. Farm Progress Show happens just off U.S. 30, east…

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  • John Vogel

    Ag Is Right To Challenge Bully Bureaucrats

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on July 7, 2014

    No, that's not a good reason. Because Congress is not putting its collective foot on their necks, agriculture is forced to spend a great deal of time and money trying to thwart bully tactics. No one is a bigger bureaucratic bully than U.S. EPA, urged on by "Big Environment". But in late June, 39 members of Congress joined 21 state attorneys general in filing amicus briefs supporting the American Farm Bureau Federation’s lawsuit against EPA. That brief urged the Third U.S…

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  • John Vogel

    America, The Amazing

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 29, 2014

    Are you reveling in America’s blessings -- your blessings? While we should be doing it every day, the business of living too often gets in the way. But you need to make it happen. It’s a necessary life-balancer. My best “reveling time” comes when I escape my office. Traveling country roads, walking lush green fields and talking with inspiring producers always grows my spirit. It gives me a chance to breathe in fresh air and fresh perspective. I’m sure that’s…

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  • John Vogel

    What Happened On May 26 And June 6?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 6, 2014

    So you know up front, this blog isn't about farming. Yet, every farm family and person has a huge vested interest in securing, protecting and upholding our way of life. And that's what this is about. May 26 was Veterans' Day, a national day set aside to honor those who gave life and/or limb and even family to protect our country. That should be first in our memories – not the family picnics or the extra round of golf. Today, June 6, is just as important. On this day…

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  • John Vogel

    Can Amish Survive Economies Of Scale?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 21, 2014

    A couple weeks back, an "English" (conventional) farmer in southeast Pennsylvania put this question to me amid his 200-hp tractors, 12-row equipment and bulk seed corn containers stacked four high: "How long can the Amish fight today's economies of scale?" It was a good question! Compared to horse-powered Plain sect tools, this producer was equipped to manage several thousand acres faster than an Amish family could do 200 acres. The more seed, fertilizer and feed…

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  • John Vogel

    Common Sense Must Rule GMO Labeling Controversy

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 14, 2014

    As reported in May's American Agriculturist, the national controversy over GMO labeling of products with genetically modified ingredients has stirred up new market_opportunities  for farmers. We also noted that farmers generally favor federal oversight of labeling. Early this year, we polled 526 farmers and people not actively farming about whether they were for or against federal labeling standards of all foods containing GMO ingredients. The results surprised me: * Yes: 49% of…

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  • John Vogel

    Getting Paranoid About EPA Would Be Easy For A Farmer

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on April 28, 2014

    Last week, I sat in on several webinars and studied a host of farm-related controversies that would make anyone wonder why they'd want to be in the business of farming. Yes, I've written about Uncle Sam being out control before. But when you put all the issues and budding regulations being concocted by agencies such as U.S. EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Food and Drug Administration and others, it's enough to drive everyone but mega-farms out of…

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