Hot Issues

October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, 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—

Some good things are happening. It took way too long to get it done but at long last our Congress has approved three very important free trade agreements. Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama will mean billions of dollars in expanded exports and thousands of jobs. Now, let’s move on and deal with some other issue.

The hot issue right now is the obligation of the Congressional Special Committee to find 1.2 trillion dollars of spending cuts or taxes to help deal with our debt problem. In the first place, that isn’t enough to even make a dent in our debt. In the second place, there is a lot of doubt if they can even do that much. Agriculture’s portion of this is relatively small. The House and Senate ag leaders (both parties) say they will present a detailed plan to the Committee to cut $23 billion to help reduce the deficit. If their proposal is accepted, and if the Special Committee ever gets the entire debt reduction plan completed, and if the Congress passes it, and if the President signs it – that’s a lot of “ifs.” But that might just provide the framework for our next farm bill. Don’t hold your breath.

The last issue that I want to put on the table – LightSquared versus G.P.S.

We all know how valuable G.P.S. is to agriculture. G.P.S. is what makes precision farming possible. We can apply the precise amount of fertilizer on different soil types. And the same with crop protection sprays. Without G.P.S., we over-apply/under-apply, overlap, skip, and drive crooked. We don’t want anything to happen to G.P.S.

Now, what about LightSquared? LightSquared is positioned to bring wireless broadband services to 260 million people. This could be a huge benefit to rural America where many communities just don’t have the kind of service to compete.

The problem is that the Coalition to Save Our G.P.S. is telling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that LightSquared’s plans will cause massive interference with the G.P.S. system.

All of this technical stuff is above my pay grade. However, we certainly don’t want our G.P.S. to be messed up. At the same time, all of rural America should have broadband access. We need more testing to sort this out. Get it done and move on.

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.