Challenging Times

April 8, 2020

April 8, 2020

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 a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

There isn’t a lot of happy talk in the U.S. or around the world. These are depressing
times. The Coronavirus sickness and resulting deaths are all you see on tv, hear on the radio or
read in the papers. Concern about the virus and the health of our citizens has dominated, but
now a lot of leaders are trying to figure out how and when they can put their economies back in
business. The economic distress is costing millions of jobs and income for so many workers.

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said, “this is a huge unprecedented hit.” She
expects the unemployment rate to hit 13 percent and then move higher. Our Congress and
President Trump have come together to provide billions and billions of dollars to fund programs
to help small businesses and workers that have lost their jobs. Farmers will qualify for the loans.
Secretary Sonny Perdue has been criticized on how the Department of Ag is giving out
government money – who gets the money? He said, USDA would “distribute stimulus payouts
in a fair and equitable manner.” I am confident the Administration will do the best they can. We
have 42 million low income food stamp recipients. Most of them cannot get home delivery.
Many are elderly and don’t want to take the virus risk by going to the store. Now our
government is trying to figure out how to get the food delivered. Who will pay for the delivery

Nothing is easy. If we focus on the ag industry the unanswered questions are endless.
Oil prices have tanked. Ethanol prices hit bottom. Ethanol plants are closing because they can’t
afford to operate, so they don’t buy any corn. Half of our corn is processed to make ethanol.
Why did fuel prices collapse? 1. We aren’t driving cars. 2. Oil reserve storage facilities in
countries around the world are almost full. 3. Saudi Arabia and Russia have turned on the oil
hydrants to drive down prices and put their competition out of business.
Positive news – there is word that the oil countries will meet later this week. Maybe they
will cut a deal. We hope.

Until next week, this John Block reporting from Washington, D.C. If you would like to
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