Issues of the Day

June 2, 2011

June 2, 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—

What do I want to talk about this week? There are so many issues swirling around, it’s hard to decide. I’m just going to go down a list.

Crops – most reports suggest that we have had 3.5 million acres damaged from both floods and drought. Even on my farm in Illinois, with mostly upland crop ground, we have had about 100 acres of bottom land flooded. Unless it just keeps raining, we will replant. So it’s not a total loss. I suspect that a lot of other farmers will find a way to salvage something. If we have average weather the rest of the growing season, I think we will produce a bigger crop than many predict today.

Trade – I have mentioned it before, but we are losing market share every day that we fail to ratify the Colombian, South Korean, and Panamanian trade agreements. When we lose market share, we lose jobs. I thought with 9% unemployment, we would want to save all the jobs possible.

Farm prices – weather worries might top the list of concerns, but farm prices are not far behind. For the most part, farm prices are very good – unbelievably good. Corn, wheat, soy beans, hogs, cattle – we’re on a roll! We worry that we’ll wake up one morning and find it all gone. Was it just a dream?

You know the rule – “The best cure for low prices is low prices and the cure for high prices is high prices.” Don’t get over-confident.

Farm policy – this is not a guess. It’s a lead pipe cinch. The budget of the USDA is going to be chopped.

Debt ceiling – the House of Representatives voted by a very wide margin to not raise the debt ceiling even though we are just about out of money. Will we raise the debt ceiling and borrow more money? Probably – but not without some serious spending reductions written into the law. The Republican House has powerful leverage and can demand serious cuts in spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. The simple fact is that we are spending too much money. We are morphing into a welfare state. 40% of Americans receive at least 45% of their income from the federal government, as reported by the Tax Foundation. We can’t keep this up. My judgment is that this fight over raising the debt ceiling is just beginning. It’s going to be a bloody battle.

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.