Trade, Budgets, and Raw Milk

April 10, 2014

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’m starting to get excited about planting season – maybe 10 days or 2 weeks away. This has been a tough winter. Makes it hard to get very much done. As I’m sure you are aware, they haven’t been getting much done out here in Washington either. 

I’m going to hit 3 issues today. 

  1. Trade – which is vital to our ag industry. We are negotiating a trade agreement with 12 nations – the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Negotiating and passing trade agreements is never easy. In this case, Japan does not want to cut their tariffs on a long list of ag products. That would short change our industry. Senator Chuck Grassley, along with a powerful list of ag associations, is demanding that Japan open their market to our products. Granting special treatment for Japanese agriculture would set a dangerous precedent. We should not do that. 

    President Obama wants to get the trade agreement done, but we’re not there yet. In fact, the Congress has not passed trade promotion legislation which would specify that the bill could be passed by the Congress with an up or down vote with no amendments. It has to be done that way. 

  2. On another subject, the House passed a budget for 2015. It has some deep cuts in ag and food programs, but don’t get too concerned. First, the Senate won’t ever pass a budget this year. They correctly point out that a spending level was already passed by both Houses for 2015. So, what is Representative Paul Ryan’s reason for passing a budget? It’s just a road map to show how Republicans would go forward to cut spending and bring our fiscal house into balance. 

  3. Last subject is a new milk war. For decades, we have prohibited the sale of raw milk across state lines. 

    When I was a boy, we milked our cows by hand, bottled the milk in the basement of our house, and sold it in my grandfather’s store. We didn’t have pasteurized milk then. Now, go to the store, and you buy pasteurized milk. It’s safer. 

    But, never mind – we have liberals and libertarians joining forces to expand the availability of raw milk. 

    I find this ironic. What goes around comes around. 

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.