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If the government shuts down, what does that really mean?
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If the government shuts down, what does that really mean?

Whether it’s predictable political theater or a genuine possibility (or both), the impending month-end deadline for Congress to raise the nation’s debt ceiling or shut down the federal government will be the buzz this week.  Pundits are warning of dire consequences if these issues are not resolved quickly, and some say even the spectre of a [...]

How are companies meeting the growing demand for gluten-free goods?
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How are companies meeting the growing demand for gluten-free goods?

Niche markets always make for an array of interesting business stories, especially when they are growing.  And one that fits that bill right now is the gluten-free industry, catering to consumers who want or need products that don’t contain gluten, which according to the Mayo Clinic is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  I’ve [...]

As harvest time looms, food and agriculture stories are ripening
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As harvest time looms, food and agriculture stories are ripening

The 2013 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour kicked off this week, and while that may sound something like a golf tournament with a down-home sponsor, it’s really a sign that summer is flashing to a close and harvest time is here.  Which means a lot of good business stories are coming ripe for the picking. [...]

Find colorful economy stories in state and county fair season
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Find colorful economy stories in state and county fair season

Over the next six weeks, quite a few communities will celebrate their agricultural heritage with some sort of gathering, from melon festivals and sweet corn parades to state and county fairs.   For business writers, these events are a colorful and reader-friendly way to tackle a number of substantive economic and financial angles, from an update [...]

Find a range of stories tied to the pending farm bill
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Find a range of stories tied to the pending farm bill

The farm bill limping along in Congress is back in the news again. The Senate is expected to pass its version of the legislation next week and then the bill would go to the House of Representatives.  Studying the massive, five-year bill (an extension expires Sept. 30) is a big project, but you can likely [...]

Find the new food safety act’s local impact on businesses and consumers
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Find the new food safety act’s local impact on businesses and consumers

Food safety concerns have made news in recent days, from reaction to a Chinese conglomerate’s bid for the Smithfield meat processor to the halting of some grain shipments after genetically modified wheat was discovered growing illegally in Oregon. With those events in mind, and with summer often a season of tainted-food headlines anyway, you might want [...]

Undercaffeinated reporting: Clearing up coffee market confusion
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Undercaffeinated reporting: Clearing up coffee market confusion

Coffee futures fell to the lowest since September 2009 on increasing supplies from Brazil, the world’s largest producer. (Bloomberg) Roya is making some of the world’s most desired coffee beans scarcer and driving up their prices. (Wall Street Journal)   Coffee prices are down. Some coffee prices are up. A blight threatens Central and South American [...]

Post Bangladesh: Retailers, consumers and sourcing of apparel and textiles
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Post Bangladesh: Retailers, consumers and sourcing of apparel and textiles

I’ve been feeling remiss in not writing about the business implications of that the tragic and deadly fire that took place April 24 in a Bangladesh garment factory, and now unfortunately there are reports of another fatal fire at a sweater-making facility there as well. These workplace disasters have prompted a fair amount of discussion in the United [...]

Investigating beef: Public universities and selling science
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Investigating beef: Public universities and selling science

Reviewing alumni groups, boards of regents and naming rights can indicate who’s giving money, she says. Commodity boards or interest groups such as the American Farm Bureau also can provide clues or information, she says. She warns some schools receive money through private foundations or other private entities, which removes the donations from the purview [...]

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