Fred the Farmer

February 25, 2010

February 25, 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—

All of the attention of the country has been on healthcare reform and cap and trade. So, when the President presented his budget plan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture portion didn’t get much more than a yawn. There are no surprises in it. President Obama wants to freeze all discretionary spending. Keep in mind that 70% of the USDA spending is for nutrition programs, including food stamps, school lunch, and WIC. That’s where the money goes. And I guarantee that with the recession, those programs will not be cut but will expand. The farm program spending will be pinched. Tighten your belt. That’s the way it is.

I get a little irritated when I read the commentaries and editorials in the big city newspapers saying the government should cut farm programs to deal with the federal deficit. If they took all the ag spending, it wouldn’t pay for the earmark money that Congress lavishes on their constituents.

The Ag part of the USDA budget represents .5 of 1 percent of the 3.8 trillion dollar fiscal 2011 budget. So don’t get excited about taking the ag money. It won’t buy you a cup of coffee.

House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson is already planning to move ahead with hearings to draft the next farm bill. He wants to get ahead of the vultures if he can.

Now, having made clear that we don’t like to be picked on in agriculture, we certainly are prepared to do our share to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. We spend too much money. What if the government was Fred the farmer, and Fred made $32,000 per year. But Fred the farmer was spending $45,000 per year. He would just borrow the $13,000 he didn’t have. That is not unreasonable for a year or two. But it is not only unreasonable, it is unsustainable over 10 years. That is what our federal government plans to do. Like Fred, we will be broke.

Just freezing discretionary spending is a joke. We need to put a lid on all spending.

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.