February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This is Rick Frank sitting in for John Block who is on vacation. 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—

Just step back and look at the U.S. and the world. What a mess! Everywhere you look, there is another serious problem. It’s U.S. debt! It’s European debt! Will there be war in the Middle East – Israel and Iran? Serious disagreements on U.S. government policy persist. What about North Korea and Iran’s race to create a nuclear weapon? The future is about as uncertain as it has been since the fall of the Soviet Union.

So, with that backdrop, I want to review my predictions made last year and give some for this year.

Last year, I said –

  • We will get a U.S.-South Korean trade agreement passed. We did and also passed one with Colombia and Panama.
  • The farm bill would not be written in 2011. It wasn’t.
  • Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood would fix our trucking-trade dispute with Mexico. He got it done.
  • Pressure to produce more grain would push the Administration to release some of our conservation reserve acres to go back into production. Didn’t happen.
  • But the strong grain prices have discouraged sign-up for the reserve and, therefore, we do have more acres to plant this year.

Now for 2012 predictions –

  • The Congress will pass a farm bill this year but not until after the fall election – perhaps in a “lame duck” session. Agriculture spending will be on the “chopping block.” Not the nutrition programs.
  • The ethanol “fuel mandate” will survive. We have critics but they won’t win. Not this year. The gallons of ethanol produced will depend more on the price of oil than anything else.
  • Our livestock industry will continue to face headwinds. The Humane Society wants to tell us how to raise our pigs and calves and chickens. They have enough allies in the public that our customers are applying pressure. McDonald’s is telling us to get rid of our gestation crates. We should stand our ground, but we’re not going to win. And don’t forget the government’s long list of regulations that give us problems.
  • I predict that Romney will, in the end, be the Republican nominee. I expect it to be a very close Presidential election, and it could go either way. I say Romney will be our next President, but I’m not going to “bet the farm” on it.
  • Republicans will retain control of the House and also gain 4 or more seats in the Senate. Harry Reid will be Leader no more.

Finally, this will be another good year for the agriculture industry – from the farmer-rancher through the whole food chain.

In spite of the global uncertainty, let’s take it 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.