Down on the Farm

June 18, 2015

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. 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 am just back from the farm, but before I talk about that, I must say I am shocked that the House Democrats, by a wide margin, buried President Obama’s priority piece of legislation – Trade Promotion Authority. The part of the bill that they killed was the part that provides retraining for laborers that might lose their jobs because of foreign competition. You would expect liberals to be in support, but they knew that by defeating the training part of the bill – TPA would be dead. At least for now.

Farm organizations, Republican Members of Congress, and President Obama are scrambling to find a way to save the bill. Trade is a big deal for American agriculture. Stay tuned.

Now – down on the farm. How ironic is this? We keep reading about drought in California. They are trying to ration water. Everyone is fighting to get their share. Water is no problem in Illinois or most of the Midwest. Part of my farm land is on Spoon River – a river made famous by poet Edgar Lee Masters and his book “Spoon River Anthology.” While I was on the farm, it rained every day. The river kept rising. Higher and higher. I couldn’t help but think about the Johnny Cash song, where Papa says, “how high is the water Momma?” She said, “it’s two feet high and rising.” The song goes on and crops are all under water. They are all destroyed.

Now, we are all hoping it won’t get as bad as that song describes. Farmers may still have a very good crop. They always say, “Rain makes grain.” The reality of farming is that it’s either too wet or too dry. Two years ago, Texas and Oklahoma were too dry and now they are very wet. 

Enough about the weather – while I was at the farm, we shipped a trailer load of market hogs (175 head). We truck to market a load about every week or two. I remember when each pig weighed an average of 230 lbs. Our pigs now are averaging near 300 lbs. each. Packers are happy to process big hogs because they need the meat. The pork industry is still recovering from porcine epidemic diarrhea disease that killed millions of babies last year.

If you want to face excitement, uncertainty, and unforeseen challenges, be a farmer or rancher.

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, D.C.