South Africa

November 28, 2018

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 healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -  

If someone had told me two months ago that forest management would be holding up a new farm bill, I would have just laughed at them.  But since the wild fires in California, forest thinning and logging are supported by conservatives.  Environmentalists can’t stand the idea.  I still think we can pass a farm bill this year.

Today, I want to talk about South Africa.  I have been there, although not recently.  It is good farm country.  They export corn and a long list of other products.  South Africa has operated as a market economy, and private property has always been respected.  South Africa’s new President Ramaphosa came to office in February, and recently announced his plan to “change the nation’s constitution, to allow the expropriation of farmland with no compensation.”  Oh – if he can’t get the Constitution changed, they are so generous – he will give $20 million for farms worth $200 million.  What about property rights?

Yes, it’s true, whites make up 9% of the country’s population and they own 75% of the farm land.  But is it right to just steal it from them and give it to the blacks?  Keep in mind most of the white farm families paid for it, they have farmed it for more than 100 years, and have built successful farming businesses.

A friend of mine had his family farm confiscated by Zimbabwe President Mugabe.  Zimbabwe had been a food exporting country.  After the land steal, production collapsed, unemployment hit record highs, and there was hunger everywhere.  Wealthy countries have no interest in investing in Zimbabwe because they don’t trust the government.  Countries that don’t respect personal property rights are not going to attract investment. 

Look at another country – Venezuela.  That country was considered to be one of the most successful in South America.  I was so impressed when I visited in the 1980s.  But since the Communist government took over most of the businesses, it is now a basket case.  People are hungry and fleeing to Colombia and Brazil by the thousands.  Nations that prosper rely on a market economy and respect the rule of law.

In closing this week, we are all watching President Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  We need to begin to wind down our trade war.

Also, some good news – the Supreme Court voted 8-0 that private land cannot be stolen for the endangered gopher frog.

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

Until next week, this is John Block reporting from Washington, D.C.