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Beef and pork are costing more at U.S. grocery stores (File photo)

When ever food prices start to rise – even a little – the national news finally starts doing stories about agriculture. We get frantic calls from editors in New York and Los Angeles – will they ration bacon? Will there be enough beef for backyard barbeques? Will children get their milk?!

To me, all those stories are great big clichés – lots of speculation told with heavy breathing and a remarkable lack of insight. Rarely are Americans ever hit with significant food shortages and sky-high prices.

This morning, I saw a national news correspondent report about the climb in beef and pork prices. While on a horse. I’m not kidding. Funny, when I’m out with farmers and ranchers, we’re always using horsepower – but it’s an American-made pickup.

You’ve heard all the slogans – hundreds of times.

“Got Milk?”

“The Incredible, Edible Egg.”

“Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.”

For that last one, you might even be able to hum along to the music, which has always reminded me of an old Western movie, complete with cowboy Sam Elliott’s gravelly baritone voice-over.

(Courtesy USDA)
(Courtesy USDA)

After more than a year of outcry, a very popular video went viral and a lobbying campaign by the lunch ladies, the USDA has backed down on strict rules for school lunches that were aimed at combatting obesity.

The government says it was needed so school nutritionists had more flexibility in planning.

But farm country says it’s a victory over the Obama Administration’s “regulatory outreach.”

As USA Today reported late last week, USDA eased the restrictions, offering larger portions of lean meat and whole grains and upping the calorie counts.