Challenging Times

October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009

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—

These are not tranquil times. Our economy is getting better – we hope. But unemployment is still over 9 percent and that doesn’t even include those that have just given up on looking for work.

On the farm front, harvest is slow and wet. We get 1 or 2 days in the field and it rains again. Most reports don’t project a very profitable year for us in agriculture. Hogs and dairy are really in the tank.

I’m not impressed by what our government is doing. Cash for Clunkers was a money-spending joke, unless you got one of those subsidized cars. Like confetti, the federal government keeps throwing out money. $250 for everyone on social security is their new idea to pander to the voters.

Animal agriculture is under almost constant attack. Our critics have hatched a new idea to hurt our industry. Opponents of modern agriculture convinced the Baltimore, Maryland schools to declare a “meatless Monday.” No meat for the school kids on Monday. American Meat Institute President Patrick Boyle was appalled by the action. He wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of the schools, “Surely you have always offered a vegetarian option on your menu. Now, you are removing a meat entrée and depriving children of choice. Children deserve this choice.”

The European Union completed a trade agreement with South Korea while we sit on our hands. We have agreements with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama ready to be voted on if our government would act.

What our government really wants to do is regulate more. Behind the scenes, there is a wide- spread regulatory effort in process. This quote from the Washington Post says it all: “The new regulators display a passion for rules and a belief that government must protect the public from danger lurking at home and on the job – one more way the new White House is reworking the relationship between government and business.”

Here is an example. There is a growing effort to broaden federal regulations of U.S. waters. If the regulators get their way, the Corps of Engineers will decide if we can tile a wet field or straighten a crooked creek.

We face so many challenges right now. Those of us in the business of food and agriculture and rural America need to stand up and speak up to protect our interests or others will do it for us.

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