February 26, 2020

February 26, 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 –

Think about this. Just 2 months ago we were ready to celebrate Christmas. After more
than a year of a trade war with China, China agreed to buy $40 billion worth of our farm
products in 2020. That would be a big boost to prices. Another positive development – the
effort to impeach the President was put to bed. All the while the stock market kept setting new
records. Good times for all. But in 2 short months – almost overnight – the Coronavirus
threatens to blanket the whole world. China has more than 80,000 identified cases and 2,000
deaths – the numbers keep going up. Cases in S. Korea – 900 plus. Italy – more than 220. We
have Coronavirus here in the United States. Some of those with the virus were brought back
here from Japan.

Stock markets around the world are shocked by the threat. Our market has crashed, and
we don’t have 100 cases. It won’t be easy to stop. We live in a global economy. We sell our
farm products all over the world. That trade deal with China may come up short. Just when we
thought the world economy was ready for a good year, now we don’t know what to expect. We
can hope the virus can be isolated and stopped. Maybe it will run out of gas in the next month or
two. The flu virus is mostly a wintertime problem. Maybe we can make a vaccine to stop the
coronavirus. But we don’t have one now.

In spite of the threat, our farmers, ranchers, small businessmen - the whole ag industry –
we have to keep doing our job. We’ll be planting corn in a little over a month. The old crop
needs to be sold and shipped to some other country. Take care of our pigs. Fortunately, they
don’t have African Swine Fever as they do in China. At this time, we are hoping for a pretty
good year. USDA is projecting a higher farm income this year. Farm debt keeps going up with
a $10 billion jump expected this year. Fortunately, interest rates are very low. We continue to
work to expand trade. President Trump was in India this week to talk trade. We need to keep
doing our job and hope the virus can be stopped.

Until next week, this John Block reporting from Washington, D.C. If you would like to
review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to