Issues of the Day

August 14, 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 –

Corn and soybean prices have taken a dive this week, USDA estimates our farmers planted 90 million acres of corn this year.  The trade didn’t expect that many planted acres.  And if we really did plant that many, we are certain to see our yield decline because of the difficult planting season.  Crop projections are only part of the hammer on our prices.  President Trump does not sound optimistic about the trade deal any time soon.  He is not even sure the trade negotiators will be meeting in September.  The U.S. has labeled China a “Currency Manipulator.”  In a surprise announcement, the President will not impose an additional 10% tariff on $300 billion in Chinese exports in September.  That’s good.  Speculation is that China may be hoping to delay action until after the 2020 election.  Get a good deal or keep the tariffs in place – that’s what Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley said.

Another costly development – the EPA is going to award 31 small refineries exemptions from the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard Compliance.  Now the refineries will not be required to blend biofuels such as ethanol into the gasoline.  We’re talking about 4 billion gallons.  Corn farmers and the ethanol industry are furious.  That will cost farmers millions of dollars while Big Oil gets hundreds of millions.  The EPA is doing one thing that we are happy about.  EPA will no longer approve weed killer labels for Round Up that say, “known to cause cancer.”  California has been using such labeling.  EPA says that labeling is “a false claim that does not meet Federal government requirements.”  Now we can expect a big fight in the courts.

Another big fight – the US Department of Homeland Security has said no food stamps or other public aid to green cardholders.  Our law says the government can deny entry or legal residency to immigrants deemed dependent on public assistance.  That’s the law.  The White House says the rule “will preserve our social safety net for vulnerable Americans.”  Makes sense to me.  Anti-hunger groups are already preparing to file lawsuits.  Now our gun laws are on fire.  Our government and our citizens are at war with each other and don’t seem to want to find the middle ground.

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.