April 13, 2016

April 13, 2016

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by John Deere and the National Corn Growers 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— ;

Just this week, our nation’s largest youth development organization, which happens to be 4H, made a presentation to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology and Research chaired by Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL).  With 6 million youth members, 4-H is reaching out to help bridge the gap between rural and urban.    

At another ag luncheon just yesterday, Congressman Davis was our speaker, reminding us about the challenge we have in agriculture since most of today’s young people have no connection to the farm.  The national 4-H Council has begun the process to broaden the 4-H scope from the countryside into the cities.  This new 4-H initiative has promise for more than one reason.  Yes – a better urban understanding of agriculture is good.  Beyond that, 4-H can open doors of opportunity that young people can hardly imagine.

The first speech that I ever gave was at a 4-H meeting.  I was 10 years old.  “What I feed my pig.”  That was just the beginning.    Two or three years later, another member of our 4-H club and I gave a demonstration – “How to make a pig brooder.”  I know you don’t know what that is.  It provides a warm, protected place for baby pigs to get under a heat lamp in the winter when it is cold.  Anyway, we won the local 4-H demonstration contest, and then we qualified to compete at the Illinois State Fair.   

Besides learning how to speak and present ourselves, we had to keep records of the feed fed to our pigs and the cost of the feed.  After feeding and raising our pigs, they were sold in the fall.  Then, we were able to see if we made any money.  Still in grade school, but I had my own bank account.    

As I went into high school, I became a member of our FFA chapter.  I bought a black Angus cow that had a calf which, after feeding it for a year, was sent to market.  I was a small-scale farmer – very small.  The bottom line is – 4-H knows the value of these learning experiences.  Without 4H, I might not have ever made the West Point Debate Team.  Maybe I would not have been Illinois State Director of Agriculture or Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Agriculture.  4-H has a lot to offer to both rural and urban youth.     

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.