Current Week

Anxiety in Farm Country

May 22, 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

I was on the farm last week.  We did get some corn planted but then the rain came again.  Last year at this time we had all our corn and soybeans planted.  The later we are in getting the seed in the ground the lower the yield.  As of last weekend only 11% of corn was planted, in Illinois, 6% in Indiana, 48% in Iowa etc.  The last time the farming industry suffered weather challenges like this was 1992.  Without an abrupt weather change, our yields will suffer a big decline.  A short crop will mean higher prices, which is good.  In fact, we have already seen corn and wheat prices shoot up.  That can help.  But now we have to grow it.  Then we can sell it.

The Ag industry has some big clouds hanging over our heads.  Yes, late planting is discouraging, but we still have a costly trade war with China that seems to be getting worse instead of better.  The Department of Agriculture is working on a $20 billion aid plan to support our industry.  That will help, but farmers would prefer to get their money from the market place.

There is some good news.  President Trump is lifting the tariffs on steel and aluminum that he imposed on Canada and Mexico.  That could open the door for the passage of the US Mexico Canada trade agreement.  Mexico and Canada will be back to buying more of our products.  Tell the Congress to approve USMCA soon.

Our trade negotiations with Japan seem to be making progress.  We have been restricted in beef sales to Japan since 2003.  That’s when we had a couple of cases of mad cow disease and they shut us out for 16 years.  They are buying our beef now.  However, they still have some beef tariffs on our exports which leaves us at a disadvantage.  Our market prices for beef, pork and other meat products are forecast to be strong as we look ahead.  China’s African Swine fever has forced a 30% plunge in sow herd numbers.  The world will be short on pork, and that will increase demand for other meats.

This spring there is a lot of anxiety out in farm and ranch country.  The worry is not at the level it was in the early 1980's when I was Secretary of Agriculture, but it is growing.  We have a very strong national economy, but the Ag industry desperately needs some good news.

Until next week, this John Block reporting from Washington, D.C.  If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

Previous Weeks

Land Grab

March 6 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Did you know that Congress passed legislation authorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund to spend 9 billion dollars to buy private land?  The Department of Interior…

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China and N. Korea

February 27 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. 

They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Priority government issues of the day would have to be trade negotiations with China and President Trump’s meeting with N. Korea leader Kim Jong-un.

Our Ag industry has…

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Debt

February 21 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. 

They are all friends, supporters, and allies of healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.

Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Our economy is booming.  Job growth in 2018 averaged 220,000 new jobs each month.  419,000 workers have come back to work.  The labor force participation rate is up to 63.1…

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Optimism

February 13 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. 

They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Optimism is in the air.  Pessimism is being crowded out.  The second government shut down that looked like a certainty is not going to happen.  President Trump will not get…

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Gov. Ralph Northam

February 7 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. 

They are all friends, supporters, and allies of healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

  And now for today’s commentary –

We all live with a new reality today.  Nothing is secret, and if you are in government or in a high-level executive position, someone will be out to bring you down. …

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From the Farm

January 31 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

This week I was in Peoria, Illinois speaking to the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association.  I am on my farm now broadcasting on the phone. 

Farmers and ag suppliers…

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Change

January 23 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

When I go back to my farm in Illinois and drive down our country roads, I can’t help but think about the unbelievable change since I was a boy.  I went to a one-room…

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Trade

January 17 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

For some time now on the question of trade, all we have focused on is our trade war with China.  I will talk about that today.  But I also want to remind everyone that…

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Cabinet Luncheon 2018

January 9 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

Christmas is behind us and the New Year is off to a wild start.  But today, I want to talk about the Cabinet Secretaries luncheon that we held on December 14, just before…

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Happy New Year

January 4 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

Happy New Year to everyone.  Today, I want to look back over last year and make some predictions for 2019.

Looking back for the U.S.A., it was a very good year.  Lowest…

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