KUNC

         

Thousands of miles, and years, away from his upbringing on a Kansas farm during the height of the Great Depression, Wilson O’Connell now lives in the Boston suburbs. (Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media)
Thousands of miles, and years, away from his upbringing on a Kansas farm during the height of the Great Depression, Wilson O’Connell now lives in the Boston suburbs. (Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media)

Every year on my birthday I know there’s a thin, flat package waiting for me to open. It’s wrapped with neat corner folds and held together perfectly with just three pieces of tape – nothing wasted.

I always knock on the front and hear the crisp, deep thud of a hardcover book. I know it’s a book. And I know who it’s from.

Reading isn’t just a hobby for my grandparents, it’s a way of life. It’s a life lesson, it’s a value to live by. And it’s one they’ve passed down to their kids and their kids’ kids. But I didn’t really know why until I interviewed my grandfather about his early life growing up on a farm in central Kansas.

The Jan. 21, 1980, Time cover reporting on President Jimmy Carter's grain embargo against the Soviet Union
The Jan. 21, 1980, Time cover reporting on President Jimmy Carter's grain embargo against the Soviet Union

When headlines surfaced last week that Russia would block U.S. agricultural imports, the news seemed dire, or at the very least, unpredictable.

The day it was announced, markets reacted, with Agrimoney.com calling a surge in wheat prices the “Putin premium.”

Since then, most politicians, commodity groups and market watchers are, as this week’s headline in Businessweek said, “Russia bans food imports and many U.S. exporters shrug.”

For the second year in a row, farmers could harvest a record corn crop. (ali eminov/Flickr)
For the second year in a row, farmers could harvest a record corn crop. (ali eminov/Flickr)

Corn and soybean farmers expect a record harvest this year. And that’s after bringing in a record corn crop last year along with one of the largest soybean crops in history.

For once, farmers can thank the weather. It’s been an ideal growing season in much of the Corn Belt with just enough sun and rain to push yields to the limit.

In its forecast of the fall harvest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts farmers will haul in 14 billion bushels of corn and 3.8 billion bushels of soybeans. Some private forecasters expect the number to be even higher.

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