Cuba & Toyota

March 11, 2010

March 11, 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—

Today, I have 2 issues that I want to talk about. And they are Cuba and Toyota. What do they have to do with American agriculture? I will explain.

Issue number 1 – Cuba – this week, the House Agriculture Committee heard testimony on establishing normal trade relations with Cuba. Thanks to Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Representative Jerry Moran of Kansas, the bill has more than 30 sponsors from both parties. The bill provides for normal trade and travel to Cuba.

For 50 years, we have tried to isolate Cuba while every other country in the world has traded and

traveled freely to that country. What did we accomplish by trying to bully Cuba over 5 decades? Nothing. Maybe it is time to try something else. Cuba is no threat to us. Maybe building a commercial relationship and people exchange can help to change Cuba. It worked with China, Vietnam, Russia, etc. Did you know that we do not restrict our citizens from travel to any country in the world except Cuba? Do you want to go to Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iran, Syria? Go! But don’t ask to go to Cuba.

Issue number 2 – Toyota – here is the background. How many years ago was it? Nine years. We found a mad cow. Beef trade with Japan was stopped. Never mind that they found 9 mad cows of their own in Japan. They still stopped buying our beef. Now, after all of this time, we have recovered only one-third of the market that we once had. Now here’s the deal. 52 people have died driving “runaway” Toyota cars. How many people died eating our beef? This is the question brought up by former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns before the Senate Commerce Committee. He was frustrated as Secretary of Agriculture because he couldn’t pry open the door to the Japanese market. Their excuse was a phony fear of mad cow disease. So, should we stop buying their cars now since they stopped buying our beef? “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” I don’t support that retaliation, but we do have a beef with Japan.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.