August - Not Easy

August 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—

August is supposed to be a month of vacation and relaxation – not this year. We have had rallies of the alt-right in a number of cities. Their critics stand up and try to shut them down. Law enforcement tries to keep the two sides apart. A crazy, hateful driver mowed down people, killing one in Charlottesville. In Barcelona, Spain, a terrorist driver did the same thing. It’s hard to understand this kind of hate.

After 16 years of war in the Middle East, President Trump announces a new strategy. We have lost 20,000 troops and spent a trillion dollars over there and what do we have to show for it? In the campaign, President Trump said he wanted to pull out and come home. For a long time, that has been my preference. We don’t need to protect the Middle East oil anymore. We have our own. President Trump has changed his mind. His argument is that we don’t want Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists to plan attacks on the West like one in Barcelona.

I like the fact that the President singled out Pakistan. He said, “Pakistan is housing terrorists that we are fighting.” We will not telegraph ahead of time everything we are going to do. That’s what President Obama did. It is encouraging that President Trump is relying on his military leaders. He is not going to micro-manage their every move. “We are not nation building.” “Out NATO allies will be expected to step up and do their part.” “We are weary of war without victory.” Well, so am I. I hope his new strategy works.

On the trade front, we have just opened trade talks with Mexico and Canada – two of our biggest trading partners. We want to reduce our trade deficits with our neighbor countries. NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) has been good for agriculture but, overall, we run a trade deficit of $60 billion with Mexico and Canada. How can we shrink the deficit without hurting our ag trade balance? – that is our challenge.

The plan now is to wrap up the negotiations by the end of the year. If there is one thing that makes the ag industry very nervous, it is the risk of a trade war. I can’t wait for the Congress to get back and begin work on tax reform; and maybe another crack at Obama care.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to http://www.johnblockreports.com Have .a great weekend.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.