Down on the Farm

August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011

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—

The political conflicts here in this town have made Washington, D.C. hard to live with. So last week, I headed to the farm in Illinois. My escape. I couldn’t believe it – the minute I arrived, I was told that President Obama would be in my county the next day. Is he following me? I just wanted to get away from the political wars. There just isn’t any place to hide.

On a serious note, here is what I found on the farm.

The corn is better than I expected, but it has suffered considerable wind damage and that will make the harvest difficult. With the intense heat in early August and July, it has been hard to keep the mother sows cool in the barns, but we did. These porkers are worth a lot of money.

Speaking of money – farm prices are unbelievable almost across the board, and that lifts our spirits.

That isn’t to suggest there isn’t anxiety and worry. Will the good prices hold or will they collapse? How much damage has the draught and heat done? We’ll know soon as the combines hit the field.

Looking ahead to the 2012 crop, out input costs are going up again. What kind of new costly regulations will Washington enforce on us? Farmers are worried about dust regulations. Drive on a country road. Can’t see for the dust. Watch that combine come through the field. Can’t hardly see it for the dust. Will we be stopped from tilling a wet field?

How many new permits and papers will we have to sign just to operate our farms?

On a positive note, I want to thank Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for announcing that, “We are not imposing any new regulations.” That closes the door on the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration. They had been considering requiring farmers to get a commercial drivers license just to haul their grain to the local elevator.

In spite of all our concerns in the farming world, times are good. We’re looking at record exports and record net farm income this year. I know the bounty will not be shared equally. It never is in this roller coaster business of agriculture. The uncertainty of weather and prices are always with us. But we are resilient. If we don’t hit it big this year, we will next year.

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.