Issues of the Day

June 4, 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—

This week, I want to look at a few high profile issues of the day.

Last month, President Obama recommended that Cuba be removed from the list as a state sponsor of terror. And last week, Cuba was officially removed from that list. The next step will be to establish diplomatic relations between Washington, DC and Havana. The President can do that. After that is done, we will need Congressional legislation to open up trade and business. That could mean more than 1 billion dollars per year in ag exports to Cuba. It’s been a long time coming, more than 50 years, but I predict, relations between the U.S. and Cuba will be normalized. 

Next issue – Trade Promotion Authority. TPA passed the Senate and should be acted upon by the House soon. This would officially give the Obama Administration the authority to negotiate a trade deal with the Pacific Rim countries and the European Union. President Obama is twisting reluctant Democratic arms to get their votes. It’s not easy. Their labor union buddies are adamantly against the bill. Success here means more ag exports. I predict this odd alliance – President Obama and the Republicans – will win the day.

Next topic – last week, the EPA – after a 2-year wait – finally announced their proposed Renewable Fuel Standards. It mandates the amount of corn ethanol that must be produced each year. Corn farmers argue the mandate is too low. The oil industry says it is too high. If everyone is unhappy, maybe it’s about right. Keep in mind the mandate level is just the floor, not the ceiling. The market will drive the demand.

Finally – last week, the EPA announced its rewrite of the Clean Water Act. It was no surprise. EPA wants more power to regulate all the farm land – not just rivers, lakes and streams. They are extending their reach to wetlands, rain water, ditches, prairie potholes. Wherever there is water, they want to be in control. Farmers and ranchers are furious. Thirty state governors plan legal action to halt the EPA overreach. The U.S. Congress is looking to pass legislation to deny the EPA takeover. This battle is not over yet.

If there is one thing that is a priority in this country, it would be – private property rights.

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.