February 4, 2010

February 4, 2010

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, 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—

When I take an inventory of the litany of assaults on commercial agriculture, I can hardly believe it. We are talking about an industry that does so much good. Our own citizens are well fed – perhaps too well fed. We export one-third of our production to feed the hungry around the world. We provide 10 percent of the energy needs of the nation. That is no small contribution. And yet, there is always someone or some organization trying to tell us what we can do and can’t do. It might be air, water property rights – maybe animal welfare.

What I want to focus on today is EPA’s priority to review the safety of atrazine. A complete review was just completed in 2006. The 2006 review ruled that atrazine herbicides pose “no harm that would result to the general U.S. population, infants, children or other major identifiable subgroups of consumers.” Atrazine has been used by crop farmers for 2 decades. Even EPA estimates that the herbicide saves growers 28 dollars per acre. Atrazine is an extremely valuable herbicide for corn, sugar cane, and sorghum growers, controlling weeds on more than half of our acres.

We need to defend our industry. Our critics cannot stand commercial agriculture. They stay up all night dreaming up ways to disrupt our business. They really want to ban all crop protection products and the genetic engineering that contributes to the increased productivity of agriculture.

This is just one of a long, long list of uncertainties that we face. How can we multiply confidence, investment, and jobs if we don’t have some certainty about the future? Are all of the tax breaks going to expire after this year? Where is the death tax headed? Will the renewable fuels standard be increased? What about the trade agreements sitting in limbo? Just to mention a few issues of uncertainty.

I’m getting a little irritated. Fortunately, I will be on the farm in Illinois this week. I’m sure that will boost my spirits. It always does.

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.