Issues of the Day

October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by 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— 

Farm bill negotiations are not the only important thing going on right now. Ballots are being collected in Washington State that could force labels on foods and beverages that contain GMOs. Will it pass? We don’t know but if it does, it will result in higher prices for food in Washington State. Once one state has that labeling requirement, it could be forced on other states. 

It is estimated that as much as 80% of our food has some GMO corn, soy, or sugar included in the finished product. The proponents of labeling have only one objective and that is to stigmatize GMOs. We have been eating GE foods for 20 years. No one has suffered. 

Another very important action taken by the U.S. Congress could have a huge impact on our farm exports. The House, by a wide bipartisan margin, approved a waterway bill and now will be negotiating with the Senate to work out the differences. The antiquated locks and dams on our rivers desperately need to be repaired. Our ports need to be deepened to accommodate new and bigger ships. Get it done. 

A West Virginia chicken farmer beat EPA in a court case. Lois Alt has a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). EPA was insisting that she be required to obtain a Clean Water Act permit. They wanted to shut her down because of runoff and ventilation fan exhaust. Fortunately, the judge ruled against EPA. This reminds me that sometimes the exhaust from my hog barns doesn’t smell so good. My hog barns only smell bad when pork prices are low. Prices now are pretty good. 

As the farm bill is being conferenced, keep an eye on an amendment in the House bill, compliments of Steven King (R-IA). The amendment, if it survives the conference, keeps the trade between states open. It would supersede a California law that does not allow eggs to be sold in California unless the hens are housed in accordance with California law. That is flat out restraint of trade. I thought we were supposed to have free trade between states. 

That’s all for the week. 

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.