Current Week

Budget

May 24, 2017

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

And now for today’s commentary—

Back in March, President Trump gave us a look at his budget plan. Although without much detail, it made clear to us that one of his highest priorities was to downsize the federal government. And, he would do that by cutting spending. He had already said that he did not intend to touch Social Security or Medicare.

Now, this week, OMB Director Mulvaney has released President Trump’s budget plan. I don’t see very many surprises. It is the Trump plan to “reform the welfare system” and replace dependency with dignity to work.” We are looking at $3.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years and a balanced budget in 2027. USDA farm and food programs are in the cross hairs of the attack on spending. The next farm bill, to be completed in 2018, would have to be different. Big savings in food stamps and crop insurance could reach $228 billion over the next 10 years. With new work requirements for those who don’t have children and aren’t disabled that might make some recipients think twice if they really want to work.

We have 44 million people on food stamps – almost as many as at the height of the recent recession. Now, we have near-full employment and the number has not come down very much. OMB Director Mulvaney asks “Are there folks on food stamps that shouldn’t be?” The Trump Administration would plan to work with the states to ensure proper enforcement of the requirements.

Trump’s plan does not overlook crop insurance. The crop insurance that farmers pay for to protect against losses is 60% subsidized by the government. That means that a farmer only pays 40% of the cost of the insurance. That level of subsidy is a little hard to defend. Trump wants to put some limits on the crop insurance plan – no more than $40,000 to any one farmer. The argument against that limit is that big farmers would not participate. The White House would limit eligibility for all commodity support programs to only farmers earning less than $500,000 adjusted gross income. That would save a lot of money.

Keep in mind that this is the President’s budget. Most Presidential budgets are “dead on arrival.” The Congress writes the budget and the spending bills. However, Presidential budgets can have some influence. Trump is a negotiator. I agree that the food programs and farm programs need to be reworked.

Although President Trump says Social Security and Medicare are off limits, there is a lot of money there. I think some reform is justified. When Social Security was started, life expectancy was 65; now it is almost 80. Stay tuned.

I was on the farm last week. Corn and beans are in the ground.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to

www.johnblockreports.com. Have a great weekend.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.

Previous Weeks

New Year 2017

December 28 2016

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

And now for today’s commentary—  

The new year is upon us.  2017, like any new year, presents many unknowns – perhaps even more this year.  I want to review where we are at today and look at where we may be going next…

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Merry Christmas

December 22 2016

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

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Merry Christmas to everyone out there.  This is the most celebrated holiday of the year and has been since our nation was founded.  It seems like so many things come together and change…

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Vilsak Eight Years

December 14 2016

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

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Last week, I – along with 2 other former Secretaries of Agriculture (Ann Veneman and  Dan Glickman) – attended the portrait unveiling ceremony of Secretary Tom Vilsack at the…

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Trade Undersecretary

December 7 2016

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

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There is a lot of talk today abut the next farm bill.  What will be in it?  When will we get it done?  But I think the ag industry should remind the new Secretary of Agriculture when…

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Cuba and More

December 1 2016

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

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I want to review a few issues today as we plan our farming operation and look over the horizon at next year’s opportunities and challenges.  U.S. farm income this year is expected to…

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Thanksgiving

November 24 2016

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

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I’m not talking about politics or President-Elect Donald Trump today.  Let’s be thankful for our good fortune to be here in America this Thanksgiving weekend.  The celebration of Thanksgiving dates…

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Rural America Speaks Up

November 17 2016

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

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Now that the election is over, Democrats are trying to figure out what went wrong.  Not only will they lose the White House in January, they did not get control of the Senate and gained very little in the…

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Trump Wins

November 10 2016

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

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It’s a new day.  Donald Trump was elected President of the U.S.  Washington, D.C. is in shock.  It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.  Clinton was supposed to win. 

A year and a half ago, Donald…

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2016 Election Day Part II

November 2 2016

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

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This year’s election process has been wild and crazy.  Hard to imagine, but we will know the results on Tuesday.  Last week, Rick Frank delivered this radio program for me.  He said that he would vote…

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Election Day 2016 - The Need for a Balanced Government

October 27 2016

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This is Rick Frank Sitting in for Jack Block.  This radio commentary is brought to you by John Deere and the National Corn Growers Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.  

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Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day.  A free and fair election is what separates the U.S. from many of our toughest competitors – for example, China,…

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