Tough Times

September 29, 2022

September 29, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

After Friday, September will be behind us. The U.S. government will enter a new fiscal year.
Our federal government will close down if our Congress does not pass a Continuing Resolution
to approve funding in the new fiscal year. If Congress can get it done to avoid a shut down, (and
I think they will) they will probably only extend business until sometime in December. Then
they will have to act again to get through the rest of fiscal year 2023.

This is not the way to run a good company and not the way to run our federal government. With
politics the way they are now, we have to live with it. In just a little more than a month, the mid
term elections will be held. That puts heavy pressure on House and Senate candidates. To pass
the Continuing Resolution they need 60 Senate votes. At this point the two parties can’t agree on
what should be in the plan. President Biden wants special funding for some of his priorities. That
includes $11.7 billion for Ukraine. Republicans might support money for Ukraine but maybe not
the rest.

President Biden has announced his priorities on hunger, nutrition and health. The White House
Conference on Hunger this week gives an idea of what the President would like to do. But don’t
get too excited because most of his priorities cannot be implemented without legislation.
President Biden’s document is 44 pages with all kinds of ideas to deal with hunger and nutrition.
Republicans have not been very happy about their inclusion in the conference planning. “To say
that we have been left out in the cold is an understatement.” Hunger is a high priority problem.
So good luck.

With inflation, the cost of food has soared almost 13% in the last year. I’m looking at a recent
chart. The price of eggs is up 39.8%, butter up 24.6%, milk, chicken, bread, cereals – all up more
than 16%. If we add up all groceries, they are up 13.5%. We know there are good solid reasons
for this jump. The costs of fertilizer to grow the grain and soybeans has more than doubled. We
have to feed our hogs, cows, and chickens, and that feed is more expensive. I think that the effort
to hammer down inflation by raising interest rates will work. It worked before under Reagan’s
Presidency. But it will take time and our economy will suffer.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Challenges

September 23, 2022

September 23, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

We face some serious global challenges. The human population has doubled in the last 50 years
to 8 billion. We will need productive farmland to increase food production and forest land to get
the wood to build houses. Demand for land has pushed land prices to a record level. In the state
of Illinois foreign companies and individuals have bought 519 thousand acres. That land cost
more than $4 billion. Foreign investors, including China, want our farmland.

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert is pushing legislation to protect our U.S. land. When farmland
is sold to a foreign buyer, it steals it away from one of our farm families that might have wanted
it. That is just one serious challenge that we need to deal with. Another challenge is hard to even
imagine. Militant vegan activists are calling for “scare pollution” policies. The USA is not the
only country with a serious challenge. The Netherlands wants to restrict the amount of animal
manure Dutch farmers can spread on their land. The objective is to cut nitrogen emissions in half
by 2030.

Also, other countries are supporting organic farming. We can not feed the world if we refuse to
use new technology to increase yield. Maybe we have not thought about it, but if climate change
moves ahead, we are expected to lose more than 4 million acres by 2050 as the ocean water rises
and it floods our land. Focus on the state of Louisiana – They are projected to lose 2.5 million
acres. That would amount to 8.7% of Louisiana land. The U.S. is just one country. The whole
world needs to use common sense as we move ahead to navigate the global challenges on our
horizon.

Back to the farm. We have started harvesting corn. Maybe soybeans next week. My hogs are
happy. They don’t have African Swine Fever. So far, the U.S. has been able to keep our country
free of that deadly disease. A lot of poultry farms have been hit with bird flu. Beef cow slaughter
is 16% higher than last year. We have a weather problem called drought. The result is herd
liquidation because ranchers don’t have enough food for their cows. That’s enough challenges
for today. Have a safe harvest.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

September 15, 2022

September 15, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

With all the concern about climate change, countries around the world are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions. We have been told for years that ethanol blended fuel will burn cleaner and reduce green house gas emissions. Here is what Geoff Cooper, President of the Renewable Fuels Association had to say: “Ethanol offers a significant and immediate carbon savings.”

However, out of the blue the critics of the ethanol industry are on the attack. They argue that the
EPA requirements that ethanol plants use certain emission controls are not being followed. They
say that EPA has been willing to provide processing exemptions to many of the older plants.
They argue the ethanol industry is not required to follow the 2007 law. There could be a real
fight brewing between ethanol critics, including the oil industry, and ethanol and farm leaders. We need clean fuel and I think the ag industry will deliver.

Here is another clean air issue. There is a lot of concern in the U.S. livestock industry about the
possibility the EPA could require emission permits related to livestock. Farm leaders support
Senator John Thune (R-SD). He wants to pass legislation to stop the EPA from trying to tell us
how to farm. I remember the good old days when President Ronald Reagan worked to cut
government regulations. The EPA argues “the US simply cannot achieve its climate change
mitigation goals without addressing agriculture.” O.K. But, maybe they should put a priority on
the need to produce enough food to feed a hungry world.

Agriculture has another challenge that I had not even thought about. By this weekend there is
serious risk of a huge strike of labor unions that work for our railroads. The unions that represent
1000s of employees – will not be there to transport our grain at harvest (and harvest is upon us)
We need an agreement. President Biden appointed a bipartisan group to negotiate a resolution to
the problem. Some of the big unions won’t accept the agreement. Unless this is resolved by this
weekend, then Congress could intervene and block the work stoppage. But will they? We don’t
know at this moment where we go from here. Stay tuned. To everyone on the farms – this is
harvest. Don’t take chances. Farming is a dangerous business.
If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Inflation

September 7, 2022

September 7, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Let me open by reading a statement from Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA). “Without a robust rural
America, people in the city are going to wake up hungry, and the more I learn about cotton,
they’re going to wake up naked too.” I like that quote. We don’t want the consuming public to
forget the essential value of the farmers, ranchers, and whole ag industry.

My subject today will be inflation. We have talked so much about how bad it is, but maybe we can find some hope. According to a global economist at JP Morgan, weaker global demand in the face of diminished purchasing power is helping to lift our foot off the inflation accelerator. Global commodity prices are starting to come down after rising by 9.7% in the second quarter. Global inflation should be down to 5% in the last half of this year. Hope they are right. We have watched our gasoline prices fall. Crude oil was $120 per bushel in June and now it’s around $93. Food prices fell 1.9% in August. That was the fifth straight monthly decline. Imports of manufactured goods are not going up like they were.

On the other hand, service costs keep going up. It is the labor shortage. And I don’t see it coming
down soon. Look at our imports. Excluding autos, import prices fell .5% between April and July.
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal which argues that China is helping to ease the price
pressure. The world’s second largest economy grew just .4% from a year ago. They have reduced
their investment. Their iron-ore prices are down almost 40%. China has chosen to lock down
their companies because of Covid-19. China, with excessive supply and weak demand, is not
going to drive inflation. The cost of transporting produce both on land and on sea is not as
expensive as it was. Supply chain disruptions are not what they were.

There is one big question that could slam the door on the progress we have seen. Expanded war
between Ukraine and Russia could spill over into some other countries. If Russia shuts off all oil
and gas to Europe, who knows the outcome. The world economy is on a rough ride. It looks like
the U.S. is doing better than most.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Mother Nature

September 1, 2022

September 1, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

It seems that this year we have faced more costly climate challenges than I can remember. Hot
dry weather in many states has provided ideal conditions for wildfires. So far this year 40,000
fires have destroyed 5.8 million acres. That exceeds 3.7 million acres burned per year in recent
years according to the National Interagency Fire Center. We have read about and seen the fires in
California threatening the sequoia trees in Yosemite Park. Let’s not forget about the homes
burned and crops destroyed.

We do have research that reminds us that as devastating as it is this year, in the 1930s it was even worse. We watched 50 million acres go up in flames then. When I was a boy, my father talked about the deadly drought of the 30s. It wiped out his crop. Farm and ranch families can not escape Mother Nature. It might be drought, or a tornado, or flooding. The Pro Farmer Crop Tour is complete, and they are giving their yield predictions. They dropped yield numbers for corn 600 million bushels which is 4.2% below the August estimate. The soybean estimate is close to the August number. Drought and heat destroyed many of our orchard trees. The cotton crop is half what was expected in Texas. And Texas is our biggest cotton producer. Our pork exports to China could more than double if we sat down with China and got rid of the tariff barriers according to a USDA economist.

Many farms depend on irrigation to water their crops. But with drought, many of our rivers out
west don’t have enough water in them to satisfy the farms and all the people in Western towns.
So, who gets the water? Of course, the cities and people do. Thousands of acres in California
won’t be farmed. No water. We never know what our next challenge will be.

Another issue – EPA has extended a comment period on a proposal to strictly limit the use of
Atrazine. The American Farm Bureau and the whole farming industry has filed comments telling
the EPA not to implement changes. We don’t need stricter limits on the use of Atrazine. Atrazine
is a component of 90 herbicides to kill brood leaf and grassy weeds. We have been killing weeds
with Atrazine for years and years on my farm. The product is safe.

It’s Labor Day on Monday. Thank you to all the hard-working men and women that feed us,
defend us, and make our country strong. 

Until next week….

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Down on the Farm

August 25, 2022

August 25, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I have been on the farm in Illinois since last week’s radio commentary. It is always so exciting to
see the beautiful fields of corn and soybeans. Unless we get hit with destructive weather, we
should have a good yield.

I love driving down the country roads past farms where I grew up. Memories of their families -
the kids that my sisters and I played softball and basketball with. We rode ponies together in the
woods hunting squirrels. We rode to our one room country school. It’s not there anymore. Been
gone for 30 years. A lot of those families are gone too. Over the last 70-80 years farms have
grown in size. Our 200-acre farm was a pretty good size then. Today, to operate 500 acres, one
thousand acres or more isn’t unusual. Consolidation is what has been happening. We have bigger
tractors, combines to harvest. When I was 6 years old my dad was picking ears of corn into a
wagon pulled by one of our work horses named Burt. Burt and our other work horse Bill pulled
the 2-row corn planter. We had pigs in the old days. We still raise pigs today.

The farming business like almost all businesses has changed. We have technology that no one
even imagined in the old days. It makes me feel a little sad to watch the consolidation. In the
ranch country out west ranchers are growing in size. Rich people that have so much money will
buy land as an investment or a country escape. Now I have been reading that other countries are
buying our farm and ranch land. China is at the top of that list. It is possible that we may need to
put a stop to this foreign intrusion. Our farms are national security. I really enjoyed the visit to
our farm. We have 5 farm workers operating 4,000 acres and raising 4,000 happy hogs. We are
all excited about harvest which will begin in less than a month. I will go back then.

Now – some other issues. Because of the Russia-Ukraine war the Ukrainian food exports are cut
in half compared to last year. Russia is still allowing export ships through the Black Sea. Hope
we can keep that door open. There are a lot of hungry people. The annual crop tour is in process
this week with dozens of farm leaders walking corn and soybean fields to estimate the yield. The
yield that they come up with will influence market prices. But we won’t really know until the
crops are harvested.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues of the Day

August 18, 2022

August 18, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I will be going to the farm in Illinois this Friday and will update you on what I see back there next week. Today I plan to touch on a number of subjects that are in the headlines every day. Start with the Russia-Ukraine war. I don’t think we know how it will end. The NATO countries continue to provide military weapons for the Ukraine forces. But it’s not clear if either side is positioned for any big victory. This war could go on for a long time. One positive development with the help of the United Nations and Turkey: Russia is allowing ships loaded with Ukrainian corn, wheat, and other grain to be shipped through Black Sea ports. Hungry people in Africa and Asia can’t wait for it to arrive.

It looks like we are in a better position now than a month ago to feed the world. Grain prices
have come down from their highs back in June. That means the market is not as concerned about
supply. The drought concerns have eased. Yes- we do have drought, but Midwest agriculture for
the most part has been spared. The recent government reports predict our yields to be not as good
as last year, but still pretty good. Our food prices are still high but have fallen a little. Grocery
prices are 13.1 percent higher than one year ago. Beef prices are worth watching. With the
drought in many of our states west of the Mississippi River many cattle ranches don’t have the
feed to feed their cows. So, they are off to market.

The cost of fuel has fallen. It doesn’t cost 5 or 6 dollars per gallon today. So far inflation has not
hit our farmers as hard as it could. In the early 1980s we paid 16 to 18 percent interest on
borrowed money to pay for fertilizer, seed, and all of the operating costs. Thousands of farmers
and ranchers went broke. They couldn’t pay back to the bank what they borrowed. Then the
country banks went broke. I was Ag Secretary then and I met with Federal Reserve Chairman
Paul Volcker. I wanted him to cut the interest rate down. It was killing us. “No not until inflation
comes down” he said.

It's not that bad now. We don’t want to go there.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to

www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Congress at Work

August 11, 2022

August 11, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

In my commentary last week, I said that I did not think we could escape rising inflation any time soon. Projections from the University of Illinois tell us the ag industries income numbers last year will be cut in half this year and another dive in 2023.

Fertilizer costs are two or three times what we saw last year. Now we have more talk about limiting the use of nitrogen. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has imposed new regulations to reduce the amount of fertilizer to raise Canadian crops. He wants to cut nitrous oxide emissions by 30% by 2030. I reported last week that the European Union is trying to limit the use of modern technology and nitrogen plant food. They want more organic food production. Farmers in the Netherlands are furious.

Farmers can not feed the people of the world without using modern technology. Our Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh had this to say – “The Administration needs an all-government approach to creating more equitable access to food and to address the root cause of hunger by investing in long term solutions.” The global pandemic, trade restrictions, and the Russia-Ukraine war have all helped to give us a world food crisis. The Untied Nations tells us that worldwide hunger is on the rise – up to 828 million people. That is a 150 million increase in just 1 year.

I know we are trying to fight global warming, but we don’t want starvation either. The focus this week in Congress is the Inflation Reduction Bill. It passed the Senate by one vote provided by our Vice President. Republicans and Democrats were head-to-head – 50-50. Many of us didn’t believe that legislation would ever see the light of day. But by Friday this week it should be taken up by the House. Democrats have the advantage in the House. So, I would expect it to pass. Will it help to bring down inflation? Probably not. But it could pay for some helpful programs and reduce our deficit over the years. I just don’t like for our government to increase spending so much. It seems all we do is spend more and regulate more. I miss Ronald Reagan.

 If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

2 Big Bills

August 4, 2022

August 4, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

We are still living with inflation. Energy prices may be down a little, but still very high. The food that we love costs much more. Ground beef surged up 11% from last year. The cost of bacon jumped 9.3%. Chicken breast is up almost 24%. From the farm and ranch perspective our prices needed to go up. Our costs for raising the crops that feed our animals continue to hit new peaks.

I don’t think we can escape this inflation any time soon. We have legislative issues on the agenda now that could shake everything up. 17 Republicans helped the Dems pass a $280 billion subsidy for the semiconductor industry. This was in President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation. Most of us thought it was never going to see the light of day. I know we would like to produce more semiconductor production. We don’t like depending on China as much.

The President wants to spend even more money. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin had been holding that back. But he surprised everyone by signing on to support a huge new bill. The tax part of the bill is supposed to raise $739 billion. Here is what they say it will do.

1.     Impose a 15% corporate minimum tax

2.     Allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices

Of the new revenue, $369 billion will be spent on climate and energy programs. It does include tax credits if you buy electric vehicles and $64 billion for extended health care. The bill does invest $40 billion in agriculture, forestry, and rural communities. Half of that $40 billion will be spent to encourage green farming practices – cover crops, carbon sequestration etc. $14 billion will be spent on rural electric coops and renewable energy. It is clear that agriculture and rural America are getting enough money out of this package to attract some support. If the bill would really deliver a $300 billion deficit reduction, that would be wonderful.

Here is what I think. Big spending in the already passed bill will just pour fuel on the inflation fire. The second bill which may or may not become law is very different. I’m not against taxing some of the biggest corporations that seem to always find a loophole to avoid taxes. Also, I have always felt it has been unfair that other countries can have cheaper prescription drugs than we have. That is because their governments negotiate with the drug companies. We don’t do that. A $739 billion bill is a lot of money. It will be very difficult to get it passed. Republican members of Congress are fighting it. I like the fact that we can raise some money to deal with our deficit. But I hate to be spending so much. The name of the bill has a good sound – “Inflation Reduction Act.”

 If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Forest Lands

July 27, 2022

July 27, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

We always put a high priority on our crop land – corn, beans, wheat and vegetables. Let’s spend
some time focusing on our forest land today. We all know that we need lumber from our forests
to build our houses. With the extreme heat, wildfires are burning down our forests. Ag Secretary
Vilsack tells us that the Forest Service has invested $100 million this year in reforestation. That
is more than 3 times the investment last year.

Remember the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed at the beginning of the Biden
Presidency? This project led by the USDA Forest Service comes under that act. We are now
positioned to rebuild after the devastating wildfires. Secretary Vilsack emphasized – “Forests are
a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. Nurturing their natural regeneration and
planting in areas with the most need is critical to mitigating the worst effects of climate change
while also making those forests more resilient to wildfires, drought, disease outbreaks and pest
infestation.” The Replant Act directs the Forest Service to plant more than a billion trees over the
next decade. This is no small project. Let’s hope we can get it done.

Another subject – we have talked about all the crops our farmers grow. Maybe we are going to
have a new and different crop to plant. It is a weed called pennycress and scientists at Illinois
State University and other universities genetically engineered the pennycress genes and now
have a plant called covercress. It cost $10 million and 7 years of USDA support to develop this
new cash crop.

It is planted in the fall after the soybeans are harvested. It could be our cover crop that can be
harvested in very early spring before corn planting. Covercress produces seeds that can be
processed into oil and meal. Commercial aviation wants to buy 3 billion gallons of alternative
fuels by 2030. This new source of fuel could help satisfy their demand. Of course, the meal
would be animal feed. We don’t know where this is going but this creativity and innovation is a
compliment to the ag industry and our scientists.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

July 21, 2022

July 21, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

We expected another big increase in the cost of fertilizer to feed our crops. The U.S. International Trade Commission voted to approve new increased duties on imports of ammonium nitrate from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago. Those countries export to us more than 80% of the nitrogen fertilizer that we use. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter urging the ITC to suspend the process. No more tariffs. Suspension was approved. Thank you.

Let’s talk about funding our government for the next fiscal year. The House Rules Committee
will put six bills on the table. One of them will be the ag funding bill for $27.2 billion and that
provides a $2 billion increase above this year. Also, the nutrition program for Women, Infants,
and Children is set at $6 billion and the child nutrition and school meals will cost $28 billion.
Good start. We will see what happens.

I want to say a few words about President Biden’s visit to the Middle East. He first met with the
Israeli Prime Minister. They are not on the same page on how to deal with Iran. “Get tougher on
Tehran.” That’s what the Prime Minister advised. Trying to cut a deal with Iran probably will not
work. They cannot be trusted.

On the last day of his trip President Biden met with a number of Mideast leaders. That included
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and leaders from Egypt, Iraq and others.
Some people in the U.S. have been very critical of President Biden for even meeting with the
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince. The U.S. government thinks the prince supports the killing of
journalist Khashoggi. So why should we be over there begging for oil? My take on all this
Middle East diplomacy is that it was the right thing to do. We don’t need to be fighting a war in
the Middle East. We did that for 20 years. But we do need to maintain close relations with some
countries that can stand up against Iran. We need to be there to ensure that China and Russia
cannot dominate everything. Remember President Trump connected a number of Arab nations
with Israel. The United States needs to reestablish our effort to bend and expand those
connections.

Good news. We may get a deal with Russia that would allow Ukraine grain exports. We shall
see.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Food Supply

July 14, 2022

July 14, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

This week like almost every other week we have a host of difficult challenges facing us. Countries all over the world are experiencing an explosion in food costs. There is hunger and even famine in some regions. With Russia blocking Ukrainian wheat, we face more suffering. In some cases, Russian troops set fire to the ready to harvest wheat fields – burned them to the ground.

Another decision in Europe is hard to believe. Dutch farmers are furious because their
government is going to limit the amount of nitrogen their farmers can use. Their government
wants to limit production. Do they really think that will help to stop climate change? What about
their 1.5 million dairy cows? The Netherlands is the EU’s largest exporter of meat. According to
Bloomberg journalist Kit Knightly “the Dutch plan will reduce the number of pigs, chickens, and
cows by about 30%.”

Organic food production gets a lot of support across the EU. Even in our own country President Biden wants USDA to spend $300 million to help organic farming. Organic farming will reduce production by one-third or one half. How many people in the world will starve if we go down this road?

I would also add that I thought we wanted to bring down inflation. Well, with a shorter supply of
food we can expect higher prices and more inflation. The hungry people in the world are not
going to accept government limitations on food production. The corn and beans on my farm are
genetically modified. Our yields have tripled since I was a boy. We eat GE foods all the time.
They are safe and are good for the environment because they allow us to grow more food on less
land.

The time has arrived to start growing GE wheat. That could help lift wheat yields as we have seen in corn and soybeans. GE technology will protect my wheat from weeds, pests, and disease. The world needs to welcome new technology in producing food as we do in making airplanes, the Internet, and everything else.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Independence Day

July 7, 2022

July 7, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

This week we celebrated the birth of our nation on July 4 th . 246 years ago, our founders wrote the
Constitution that set the guideposts for us to live by. Our people are not governed by a dictator
like Russia, China, and many other countries. Are we perfect? No! We have inequality, racism,
sexism, and religious conflict. But don’t ignore the progress that we have made. For a long time,
women were not even allowed to vote. Look at them today-running big corporations, serving on
boards of directors. They are on the Supreme Court. We just got our first Black woman Supreme
Court Justice. Barack Obama served as our first Black President of the U.S. In his election he
received the majority of votes from the White state of Iowa.

In 1776 most Black Americans were slaves. I’m not suggesting that we are done, but we have
made enormous progress. We didn’t become the richest most powerful nation in the world by
accident. We have held our democracy together over all these years with all the conflicts and
wars that we have fought. Now we have loud, angry disputes over gun control, abortions, the war
in Ukraine, and climate change. On the positive side our Constitution gives us freedom of
speech. Let the differences of opinion be heard on tv, in the paper and on radio. The dictatorships
of the world restrict their press. I have confidence that we will sort these differences out and
move on to a better day. I want to close with a quote by a former Senator who ran for President
in the 1970s. He lost, but his reputation as a devoted very religious leader lives on. George McGovern, Democrat, S. Dakota –

“It is time to live more with faith and less with fear - with an abiding confidence that can sweep
away the strongest barriers between us and teach us that we truly are brother and sisters.”
Senator McGovern stood out as a leader for social justice and supported U.S. responsibility to
feed the world. God Bless America.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Challenges

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

The corn and soybeans on my farm are growing tall and beautiful. And also important to note,
without weeds. Today we use, and have for years, Roundup weed killer, a Bayer Ag product.
The most important ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, and it is the most widely used herbicide
in the world in growing corn, soybeans, and cotton.

There is serious concern in farm country because Roundup is under legal attack from thousands
of U.S. plaintiffs alleging that it causes cancer. Residential consumers represent most of the
claims against Bayer company. Very few farmers are complaining. We are cheering for
Roundup. At this point Bayer has set aside $16 billion to settle cases. Our government regulators
have taken the position that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. But that may not convince the courts.
I put this issue on the table today because how it will be resolved is a major concern to the ag
industry. Being able to control damaging weeds in our fields with an herbicide that works and is
not too expensive is so important to our business and to our ability to produce and grow the food
supply for the world.

Here is another challenge that we face – the explosion in the cost of energy. The cost of gasoline is $5 per gallon in most of the U.S. Our diesel farm fuel has doubled in cost. Our tractors, trucks and combines drink a lot of diesel fuel. It wasn’t long ago gasoline was around $2.00 per gallon. The U.S was energy independent.

What happened? Here is what happened - since taking office, President Biden has worked hard
to drive up the price of fossil fuel and push us toward green energy. On his first day in office, he
cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline and our leases in Alaska’s Wildlife Refuge. He then closed
the door on new oil and gas leases on Federal lands and waters. With the explosion in the cost of
energy, Biden has been trying to get Saudi Arabia to pump more gas and perhaps the U.S. could
import oil from Venezuela. Now he is talking about a 3-month federal gas tax holiday. The
damage has already been done. Here is what is next – your 4 th of July cookout will cost 17%
more this year.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Fathers

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Sunday this week was Father’s Day. I am not sure that the fathers of our children are given the appreciation and respect that they deserve. Of course, I am talking about the fathers that step up and do their share in raising their children. It is a family job to raise good kids- responsible, honest, considerate children. My father set a positive example. He worked hard and we were expected to help. My sisters and I helped to milk the cows, feed the chickens, and gather the eggs. My grandfather came out to help in the garden. We were a team and proud of it. As a 10 year old I was in 4-H and my first speech was titled “What I Feed My Pig.” My father helped me put that together. In our one room country school my sisters and I played on our soft ball team and basketball team. My dad was our coach. We all had to play because there were only 9 or 10 kids in the school.

There was a lot to do with sports and farm work every day. Let’s not forget the schoolwork. My dad helped me with math class. He was good with algebra. I was so grateful when I went to West Point that he had already taught me the basics of algebra. Fathers and mothers both play such an important role in raising good children. We need to turn the pages back to the way it used to be - two parents raising their kids. Criminologists’ research found the absence of fathers to be “one of the most powerful predictors of crime.” 90% of young men in prison grew up without a father.

The Census Bureau tells us that today one in four children grow up without a father in the home. Without a father, a child is 4 times more likely to live in poverty, and he is twice as likely to drop out of school. In today’s society too many men don’t take responsibility for their offspring.

I am forever grateful for my father who was part of the solid family foundation when I grew up. Discipline, responsibility and respect for others was the good life we lived. 

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Change

June 16, 2022

June 16, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

On Monday this week I opened my Wall Street Journal and a big story in the Business Section caught my attention. The headline read “Smithfield to Shut Plant in California.” Smithfield is the largest pork processor in the U.S. Their plant in California employs 1800 workers. They said, “the cost of doing business in California is just not worth it.” The processing plant just outside Los Angeles is huge. The higher taxes, utility costs, and labor are much higher than the 45 other states where Smithfield operates. Smithfield has one other serious concern – the regulatory costs in California. That state passed a law pushed by the Humane Society called Proposition 12. It dictates the size of the pen where a gestation sow is quartered. Farmers will be required to spend millions of dollars expanding the housing for their sows. That law is going to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the court accepts that law, all pork sold in California must meet the California law standards. Big hog farms all over the U.S. are very concerned. They might not be able to ship to California without rebuilding their barns. The state of California imports 99% of their pork from other states.

There are some farming operations that already meet the California law. They are mostly smaller
farms. Market hogs on my Illinois farm would be accepted. Our sows run in the pasture during
breeding and gestation. When they are a week from farrowing, we bring them into the farrowing
barn crate. Babies are born and after 3 weeks they are weaned. The sows go back to the field.
The boars are so excited to see them. Those baby pigs that we weaned will reach market weigh
in 5 or 6 months. Then we can all “bring home the bacon.”

A lot of big companies are escaping from states where taxes and other costs to operate are more than they can tolerate. Caterpillar just announced that they are moving their headquarters from Chicago to Texas. The states attracting big manufacturing companies have seen explosive job growth. Things are changing.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Down on the Farm

June 9, 2022

June 9, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I am calling in this radio commentary from my farm in Illinois. It is exciting to be here on the ground, walking the corn field. This crop is knee high. When I grew up on the farm, you would expect the corn to be knee high by the 4 th of July. This corn will be shoulder high by the 4th of July. We have improved seed and use advanced farming practices today. Our soybeans are shorter, but healthy and growing. At this moment we are positioned to have a good crop with good yield.

Of course, that all depends on the weather. Can’t control that. In talking to farmer friends in
California and even in Kansas, the drought is already taking a toll. North Dakota has been
swimming in heavy rains.

President Biden was in Kankakee, Illinois on a farm a couple of weeks ago. His speech was directed to American farmers. He called on U.S. farmers and ranchers to crank up production to feed a hungry world. Of course, we will do our best. But we face problems that perhaps our President could help with, including skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer prices. On his first day in office, he cancelled the Keystone pipeline and halted oil and gas leases on public lands. Of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has not helped. Even with the very good grain & livestock prices that we have today – these are tough times. If we are going to step up and feed this hungry world, we need some certainty. Bring down inflation. Shut down the federal government’s effort to overregulate everything. As farmers we already are required to operate under dozens of environmental requirements.

I mentioned the very good grain prices earlier. So of course, I have booked half of my projected
crop at these good prices per bushel. Think about this. I am obligated to deliver that grain to
satisfy those contracts. But that crop is not close to harvest. Think of the risk. I remember more
than 30 years ago when a disease cut our projected corn yield in half. I didn’t have the corn to
deliver and fill my contracts. Farming is a very challenging business. I’m not going to think
about that anymore. Thank you, God. I’ll watch it grow. Until next week, I am John Block down
on the farm.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Tough Times

June 2, 2022

June 2, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Just last Monday we celebrated Memorial Day honoring our fighting men and women that have
given their lives to protect our country and keep us safe. Then the deadly school shooting in
Uvalde, Texas was hanging over us. I don’t have the words to express the level of sadness as
they bury those children and two teachers. They are all in our prayers.

I will try to move on from here to some other subjects. I would like to see our politicians come
together and find bipartisan solutions to some of our serious problems. To begin, instead of just
having a political fight over gun control, the majority of voters support taking some steps to keep
us safer. Sit down and hammer it out.

Another issue of conflict – abortion. The polls tell us that our citizens support the right for the
mother to decide. However, we need rules and limits. We should not be allowed to abort a baby
late pregnancy. The life of a baby is precious. So, we need common sense restrictions. When Bill
Clinton was President his party position was “abortion should be safe, legal and rare.” That
sounds reasonable to me.

Last issue inflation – President Biden has a plan.
1. Support Federal Reserve Chairman Powell since inflation is running at its highest level in
40 years. We have no choice but to raise interest rates. That may slow down job growth,
but it will also slow down inflation.

2. The second point is to “boost the productive capacity of the economy over time.” Can’t
argue with that, but it won’t be easy. One thing that we need to do is produce more
energy. I’m talking about oil and gas. On this issue President Biden has not been much
help.

3. Let’s reduce the federal budget deficits. In the last 3 years our federal government has
cranked up spending with $6 trillion to carry our economy through the coronavirus
pandemic. We are not going to balance our budget if we don’t cut spending. I’m not
convinced that Congress and President Biden are really serious about shutting off the
money machine. Every day there is a new idea on how to spend money that we don’t
have.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Trade

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

U.S. farmers have had their foot on the accelerator pushing to get the crops in the ground. Wet and cold weather was a problem for a while, but we are approaching the finish line. My farm in Illinois is all planted with the corn up and growing and most of the soybeans. Now, all we can do is pray for good crop weather. Some of our northern Midwest states have had to deal with terrible weather. Also, if you go west drought doesn’t want to let up.

Let’s talk about trade now. President Biden has not been in a hurry to rejoin the Transpacific
Partnership. President Trump pulled us out of that agreement which would have improved our
trade relations with many Asian countries. Japan is still urging the U.S. to rejoin. I don’t know
why we don’t rejoin. Instead, President Biden launched negotiations in Tokyo this week with 12
countries to create the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. That agreement will include Japan,
Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, India and others. The
agreement is supposed to strengthen our trade ties and national security relations in that part of
the world. Taiwan is left out of the deal because that would anger China and might cause some
of the members to object. The countries in the agreement want to work more closely together and
deliver a positive economic impact. The details of the pact will take months maybe a year to
work out.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai had this to say, “collectively the trade pillar in this agreement will unlock enormous economic value.” Robert Manning, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council has his doubts. “No matter how they package it, IPEF is not a substitute for TPP. There is trade liberalization, no tariff reduction, and unclear if any binding agreements.” The new Asian agreement is clearly designed to get the U.S. back into the region and counter China. It is too soon to know if it will be worth the effort. We need to begin negotiating tariff reductions – especially with China.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Energy

May 19, 2022

May 19, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Why don’t we do more to address our fuel problems? We are in the process of planting the 2022
crops. All the reports tell us that there is a severe risk of a world food shortage. Solving this
problem is not going to be helped by the skyrocketing cost of diesel fuel – a 56% increase.
Farmers across the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world are not sure how to deal with the short
supply of fuel. Our farm crop prices are high also but balancing the cost of production with
demand and prices will be a challenge. In Europe they drive far more diesel cars than we do. The
trucks hauling everything in the U.S. and Europe burns diesel fuel. That added cost is not helping
to solve our supply distribution problem. In Europe the cost of diesel fuel has jumped 88% over
the last year.

Keep in mind Europe has joined with the U.S. to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine by
agreeing to stop buying energy from Russia. Russia is by far Europe’s primary supplier of fuel.
President Biden a few months ago turned to U.S. petroleum companies and asked them to
increase production to help supply Europe. Perhaps they would like to do that, but earlier they
were told they would have to cut production to fight climate change. So, they haven’t been very
quick to spend the money to crank up production. Nevertheless, we did have companies last
November that were aggressively interested in two lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in
Alaska. But just last week the Interior Department announced the cancellation of those three
offshore oil and gas leases.

Three years ago, the U.S. used to be energy independent. We were a net exporter. It looks like
the political power of global warming is closing the door on our source of energy. Today’s
priority should be to feed the world and bring the Russia-Ukraine war to an end. We need energy
resources to do that. Anyone connected to the farm understands how serious this energy problem
is. We need fuel for our tractors, combines and trucks. Nitrogen is our most important fertilizer
and that is made from natural gas. We market our crops to countries all over the world. Ships,
trucks, and planes deliver that food. It is time we stopped ignoring the energy problem.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I have 5 different issues to bring up today.

1. Here is something proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that will cost
family farms and small business agriculture a lot of time and money. They want to
require corporations to report on greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chain. Farmers
are part of that supply chain. The American Farm Bureau Federation is right. It would
increase agriculture costs that are already going up.

2. Putin’s war in Ukraine is front page every day. Russia’s military is stealing hundreds of
thousands of tons of Ukrainian wheat. They are stealing vegetable oil also. Russia and
Ukraine are the biggest exporters of wheat in the world. However, Ukraine is not able to
export on the Black Sea. Russia has shut that door. The countries that rely on that food
supply are very concerned, as they should be.

3. An incentive to encourage more U.S. production has been suggested. The idea is to offer
an extra $10 per acre to farmers if they double crop wheat and soybeans. Some farms do
that now. I have done it in years past. But you can expect to experience a lower yield –
especially from soybeans. We have very good prices for wheat and soybeans now. I think
most farmers will make the judgement of their farming practice that will bring in the
most money. We shouldn’t be trying to subsidize this farming decision.

4. The Homeland Security Secretary has created a “Disinformation Government Board.”
That is scary. Government departments can be very political. They will strive to shut
down any free speech that doesn’t agree with them. The media is supposed to evaluate
the issues and give us the facts. I know they have not done the job they should but
handing that job to a politically appointed government department would be complete
surrender.

5. Last subject: here is a “very sobering picture” said Gene Dabaro who has headed the
Government Accountability Office. “Our federal government faces an unsustainable
fiscal future.” We are all aware that if we keep running a big budget deficit our
government will have to just borrow more money. And with interest rates going up, that
borrowing will cause our debt to skyrocket. Think about the money we are spending to
support Ukraine. Until next week.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

This and That

May 5, 2022

May 5, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I have been reading reports that our beef cow numbers on farms and ranches are in a steady decline. That should not be a big surprise given the fact that some of the states that produce the most calves are living with serious drought. That means they won’t have enough pasture and other feed for their cows. With good cattle prices they send the cows to market. Also, with high prices being paid for soybeans and wheat, just plow up that pastureland and plant it. When you go to the grocery store today, that beef steak looks pretty expensive. It’s only going to get more costly if we don’t have the mother cows to produce the baby calves that are our future source of beef.

Turn to trade – it is exciting to take note of the big purchases of soybeans and corn by China. China has our high prices on their shoulder. We love it. But it is time we began to work on expanding our base of markets. It is just safer to diversify our ag exports. Here is a positive export note: we are increasing exports of beef to Japan, corn and pork to Vietnam, and potatoes to Mexico.

Next – When it comes to green house gas emissions, our ag industry is doing a good job. EPA reports that we have cut emissions by 4% in 2019 – 2020. The ag industry represents just 10% of total U.S. emissions. “That is much lower than other economic sectors.”

Last subject – Russia’s war on Ukraine. That war has been raging for 3 months now. The death and destruction are in our papers and tv every day. Russia has lost 15,000 troops, 2,000 armored vehicles and 60 aircraft. I am sure Putin thought that it wouldn’t take more than a week to bring Ukraine down. That’s not what happened. This has become a brutal deadly war. Now we have Putin threatening to use nuclear weapons. They would be small, tactical weapons, but that action would open up to a much bigger war. I don’t predict this will happen, but I don’t think Putin will give up. That’s not his nature. He is a brutal dictator. Now if NATO and the U.S. are dedicated to preserving Ukraine’s independence, where is the middle ground to reach a compromise and end the war? Let’s hope it can be found.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Immigration

April 28, 2022

April 28, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary- 

I find it hard to believe that since last October more than one million migrants were arrested at our border. They are just flooding into our country. They are coming from countries all over the world. We are seeing a large number of Ukrainian and Cuban immigrants. President Biden’s open-door policy encourages the surge of people. Some estimates in the newspaper put our number of illegal immigrants at 30 million already in the U.S. and another 30 million on the way. Whatever the number is – we are a total failure.

When Trump was president, he used Title 42 of a law passed in 1996 that says illegals shall be detained. Interesting point – Senator Biden voted for that law. It gives the Attorney General the authority to return aliens to Mexico. That “Remain in Mexico” policy was very effective in reducing the number of illegals getting across the border. They had to wait in Mexico until their asylum claims were heard. President Biden has not enforced that law effectively. He doesn’t want to. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced on April 1st that the health order was no longer needed. The Supreme Court ruled this week to keep the order in place. It will expire on May 23rd anyway. What next Mr. President? The bottom line is – immigration should be a legal process. We need to restrict drug dealers, gang members, and terrorists. We need to pick and choose who gets to come into our country. We have a border crisis. What’s going on now is a circus. Let’s look at some other subjects.

I know we have some distractions with the Ukraine war, crime escalation, inflation and immigration, but let’s turn to trade. I think we are moving too slow. China is our number 1 trading partner. President Trump put hundreds of tariffs on Chinese products that we need to import. Of course, in retaliation China slapped tariffs on our exports to them. It is time to sit down with China and start eliminating tariffs. The give and take process will save our importers a lot of money.

Let’s not forget we have a phase one trade deal with China that the Trump Administration negotiated. It needs to be reviewed and updated. China has not been meeting their obligations. We need to get new trade deals with the UK and the European Union. 

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

E15

April 21, 2022

April 21, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Just back from the farm in Illinois last week. I always love to plant my feet on that rich soil. It
was too wet to plant. Hope we can get that corn and bean seed in the ground soon.
A lot of my neighbors were excited to learn that President Biden is going to turn the valve to
make E15 available through the summer this year. With gas prices at $4.00 per gallon or higher,
using more ethanol will cut the fuel cost. Ethanol prices are $1 per gallon cheaper than gas
prices.

Renewable Fuel Association President Geoff Cooper had this to say – “Using more American
made ethanol will help bring pump prices down and enhance our Nation’s energy security. Also,
higher blends of ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” A recent nationwide survey tells us
that voters want us to use more American-made ethanol. We just don’t have enough gas stations
offering E15. We need low cost, low carbon renewable fuels to bring down pump prices and help
the environment.

While back at the farm in Illinois there was a lot of talk about California’s Proposition 12. That
law bans the sale of pork from hogs that don’t meet California’s arbitrary production standards.
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said that law will “harm small family farms and
will raise pork prices across the country. One state’s misguided law should not dictate farming
practices for an entire nation.”

I was told that three family hog farms that I know are considering going out of business. It will
cost a lot of money to rebuild farmer hog production facilities to meet the California law
demands. Projected profits in the hog business are already threatened with the explosion in the
cost of feed. Labor is in short supply. Our fertilizer prices are 2 or 3 times higher than last year.
Farm production costs are expected to increase 6% this year following a 12% increase last year.
Lots of challenges. Let’s hope the Supreme Cout will strike down the California Proposition 12.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Pork

April 14, 2022

April 14, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

When you hear this radio show, I will be on my farm in Illinois. I am hoping that we can get started planting corn. However, we have had so much rain this last week. Planting is unlikely.

 I want to talk about pigs. Pork farmers throughout the U.S. were shocked in 2018 when California voters passed Proposition 12. It dictates to California pork producers how to produce their pork.

The pen size requirements for sows and how they are cared for will cost farmers millions of dollars. That California law will create huge supply shortages of pork because other states supply most of pork eaten in California. For other states to sell in California they will be required to meet the standards of the California law.

That law passed in 2018 has been tied up in the courts and is finally scheduled to go to the Supreme Court. The U.S. pork industry is hoping that this outrageous law will be struck down. Nowhere does the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution allow a state to restrain trade between states unless there is a health or safety problem. The critics that want to dictate to farmers how to care for our pigs don’t know very much about farming. They also are dictating to chicken farmers. The law requires that chickens must be cage free. It is hard to imagine the trade restrictions states could place on other states if Proposition 12 is allowed to stand.

It won’t be just pork or chickens. It could be anything that could close the door on our traditional free trade between states. Let’s hope the Supreme Court can fix this. The National Pork Producers Council were in DC last week. They have other concerns. Under President Obama the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement was written, but when President Trump came into office, he pulled the U.S. out of the deal. That move has been very costly to our pork industry. The countries that are in the (TPP) have a big tariff advantage over us because we are not a member. President Biden needs to get our TPP membership back. The National Pork Producers Council says membership could be “the biggest commercial opportunity even for U.S. Pork Producers.”

Exciting news – the EPA will lift the summer restriction on the sale of E15 fuel. More on that next week.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Food Production

April 8, 2022

April 8, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary- 

President Biden announced his proposed $5.8 trillion budget for the 2023 fiscal year. Now Congress will begin work to change, add and subtract that budget. As always it is a long and difficult road to get it passed. The President wants to increase the Department of Agriculture spending by 9%. That would give us $2.6 billion more than budgeted for this year. His priority is to fill staffing shortages, fund nutrition programs, and climate issues. 

Speaking of conservation, The American Farm Bureau and other ag organizations are urging Congress to allow farmers that have acres in the Conservation Reserve Program to plant crops on that land. The European Union has already opened the door for their farmers to crop their conservation land. With the war in Ukraine, no one knows how much corn or wheat they will have to harvest. Also, with the sanctions placed on Russia, they probably will not be able to export as much grain as they usually do. I didn’t know this, but Russia is the world’s largest manufacturer of fertilizer. China is number two. Since the war started Russia’s fertilizer exports have fallen sharply. Fertilizer prices have gone up 3 or 4 times higher than they were. There is already talk in farm country about cutting back on how much fertilizer to use to save money. Less fertilizer could mean less grain. If we don’t produce enough food prices will skyrocket. They are already at a record-high level now. I don’t expect food prices to come down. 

It's not just the shocking increase in the cost of fertilizer. What about gas and oil for our tractors, trucks, and other machinery? I know there are some ignorant people that might say we don’t need artificial fertilizer – just go organic. We could do that, and then our yield would dive by 20-30%. With the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and supply chain interruptions we are going to see a food crisis. There will be starvation in some poorer countries and acute malnutrition in others. I know our farmers and ranchers will do the best they can, but it won’t be easy.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Bird Flu and More

March 23, 2022

March 23, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They
are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.
Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I’m going to cover some different issues today. As we all know the war in Ukraine dominates all

the news. But if you were in the poultry industry, you would be very concerned about bird flu.
Bird flu is deadly, and you don’t want it on your chicken farm. A Fulton County flock of 240,000
chickens had to be destroyed. Seven million chickens and turkeys in 13 states have been killed this
year. Disposal of the infected flock is the only way to stop the spread.

Bird flu is being spread by migrating birds that fly north and south. Canada reports cases of bird
flu. This influenza is not something to ignore. It raises my concerns about African Swine Fever.
That started in China. China had to dispose of almost half of their hogs. That deadly disease is on
islands in the Caribbean not far from the U.S. If it gets here that could be devastating.
Another subject – I graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. I am reading about

six young cadets on their spring break. They went to Florida to celebrate. And they got some drugs-
they tried them. The drug was cocaine laced with fentanyl. Two of the cadets almost died. I don’t

think we are doing enough to shut the door on fentanyl. Drug overdoses are killing more than
100,000 of our people every year. There are more people dying from drugs than in car accidents.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times as strong as heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. I don’t know
anything about these drugs, but it’s time to raise the red flag. Reports that I see tell us that a lot of
fentanyl is coming from China. How does it get into our country? Well, one path is across our
open Southern border. The smuggling cartels can make a lot of money bringing it in, and then we
pay the price.

I’m thinking about planting season- only about a month away. We’re not ready for it yet, but John
Deere has a new fully autonomous tractor ready to till your fields. Hard for me to imagine. No one
even riding in the tractor seat. When I grew up, we had 2 old horses pulling our corn planter.
If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

March 17, 2022

March 17, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

We have been wondering if our elected officials would ever pass legislation to fund our
government to the end of this fiscal year, which is September 30th. After 5 months of short-term
amounts of money provided to avoid closing our government, Congress passed a $1.5 trillion bill
to carry us to September 30th.

Congressional appropriators should now get to work on the spending budget for the next fiscal
year beginning October 1 st . It’s no surprise that the public is not very happy with the performance
of their elected representatives. The war between Russia and Ukraine is in the headlines. Men,
women, and children killed every day. Cities are being bombed and destroyed. Supply chains are
shut down. Food and energy are in short supply in many cities. Countries around the Black Sea
depend on wheat, corn, and other farm products to feed their people. Turkey, Egypt, and many
others are desperate. Wheat prices have gone up more than 60%. Just be aware Ukraine is a big
producer of farm crops. I have been on their farms, ridden their combines harvesting. Will they
get to plant this year’s corn or harvest their wheat? I pray for them.

I know trade issues are not in the spotlight right now but all of the tariffs that President Trump
imposed on China have not been lifted by President Biden, but they are due to expire this July.
We need to get to work on some serious negotiations with China. Lift the tariffs but get
something in return.

I want to talk a little bit more about the Ukraine war. The whole world is very angry at Russia.
The United Nations General Assembly voted 141 to 5 last week to condemn Russia. Only Cuba,
Belarus, North Korea, and Syria stood up in support of Russia’s invasion. China did not vote. At
the winter Olympics Chinese leaders Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin pledged “friendship
and solidarity” – cooperative with no limits. I guess Putin needs a friend. He doesn’t have many.
His destruction and war on an independent Ukraine are going to be very costly. Putin doesn’t
want other countries to join with NATO. Well, there are some that would feel safer if
they did have NATO protection. Independent Finland and Sweden stand firmly against Russia.
More to talk about next week.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Ag Challenges

March 10, 2022

March 10, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Ag challenges - the whole global landscape is in such turmoil it is hard to predict where our ag industry is going. We will be planting this year’s crop soon. Livestock markets along with grain have been erratic. The USDA Ag Outlook Forum just wrapped up with their predictions. Ag exports are to set a record $183 billion this year. Prices now are in record territory. But the Forum projects price moderation. Corn will go down by $.45 to $5 per bushel. Soybeans down to $12.75 per bushel. Wheat is expected to fall by $.50 per bushel. Hogs are projected to hold pretty steady, and cattle should go up.

With the war in Ukraine and the global supply chain problems, I cannot believe that we will see a decline in livestock and grain prices. Ukraine is a big producer of wheat and corn. With the war, will they even be able to plant this year’s corn crop? Will they be able to harvest their wheat? The sanctions on Russia are taking a seriously costly toll on that country, and they produce 15% of the wheat in the world. Secretary Vilsack spoke and was more optimistic. He said, “I believe that the outlook for agriculture is bright, strong, and positive.” We hope he is right. Our export is strong and at this moment prices are in record territory. But let’s not forget, government farm payments this year will be half of what they were last year when hit by the virus. And we may not be able to sustain these good farm prices. If that is true, we need to sell some of this year’s crop now. I know, we haven’t even planted it. We still need to gamble a little. Farming is the biggest gamble there is. We can’t control the crazy world.

We have our own challenges here at home in the U.S. inflation is raging. Just look at our energy prices. Our national debt is surging higher. We don’t bring in the taxes to pay our debt. “Billionaires pay lower taxes than their secretaries.” That’s what Warren Buffet said. Elon Musk, the second richest person in the world, paid no federal income taxes in 2018. We need to fix our tax code. It isn’t fair to our hardworking men and women.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Energy and Trade

March 3, 2022

March 3, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary- 

Have you noticed the escalating cost to fill your car up with gas? I did. It’s close to $100. Of course, in Europe the bill would be twice that much. Now we have Congress pushing new legislation that would suspend the federal gasoline tax of $.184 cents per gallon. Yes, that would help a little when we are paying close to $4.00 per gallon. It is still a bad idea. That tax money goes to the Highway Trust Fund to rebuild our infrastructure – our roads and bridges. Congress passed a restructuring bill last year. We should not take that money away. 

Hillary Clinton in 2008 proposed cutting the gas tax and Barack Obama said, “Cutting the gas tax is a gimmick.” With the attack on Ukraine by Russia the whole energy issue is getting a lot of attention. The U.S. is the number 1 producer of oil and gas, but Russia is right behind us. Europe imports one-third of their gas from Russia. Europe is highly dependent on Russian energy. Energy experts expect our natural gas and gasoline to keep going up in price. With the Covid virus in rapid decline people are back on the road. President Biden and the Climate Change Team have tried to close down our oil and gas production. We need to re-open oil and gas exploration.

Let’s talk about trade. I am reading on Politico that 41.5 million American jobs depend on trade. Jobs tied to trade have doubled from 10% in 1992 to more than 20% today. President Biden has been trying to put together an Indo-Pacific economic framework which could be good for trade, but why not listen to Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. She said, “the President needs to rejoin the Pacific Rim Trade Pack.” The U.S. helped write that agreement and President Trump pulled us out. 

Exports are so important to the U.S. ag industry. We export 25% of what we produce. There is a hungry world out there. In 2021 the world food price index rose 28%.  

In closing, I want to thank the European countries (including the UK) for stepping up to support Ukraine in their battle with Russia. The whole world has rallied against President Putin’s deadly war. 

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Russia - Ukraine

February 24, 2022

February 24, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you. 

And now today’s commentary 

What is at the top of our list of worries today? Ukraine. Russia has 150,000 troops surrounding Ukraine. By the time you hear this radio program, we may know if Russia is really going to invade Ukraine. President Biden and Russian President Putin have agreed to meet this coming Sunday.  We need to work out some kind of compromise.  

However, that compromise should be between Europe and Russia. Ukraine is 5000 miles from the U.S. – but Europe and Russia are right over the fence from each other. Why aren’t they negotiating? Why is it on our shoulders? I realize that the U.S. is a member of NATO with Europe.  And the U.S. is the leader of the world if we ignore China.  

I simply don’t understand why we should take the lead. Europe is threatened. Europe has a huge demand for Russian gas. We don’t do very much trade with Russia at all. Russia and Ukraine are on the other side of the world. Putin does not like the fact that NATO countries are surrounding Russia. O.K. – maybe there is a limit. It’s time for NATO (Europe) to cut a deal with Russia.  

Enough on that subject. I cannot pick up the paper or turn on the tv without seeing more stories about savage crime in our big cities. There are so many violet criminals. They get released back into society to go for armed robbery or carjacking. There is little respect for law officers. And with the talk about “defund the police” we see cops just leaving for a safer job.  

Leaders in the big cities have enacted policies that have opened the door to death and destruction.  Fortunately, we don’t have much of that in small town and rural America. Last subject – a decision  that I don’t think is fair. NCAA allows transgender women to compete in sports against other women even though they used to be a man. Here is an example. Lia Thomas, University of Pennsylvania, competed on the men’s swim team for 3 years. But this year he is a she and she  competes against biological women. In 2 events, she swam faster than any female college swimmer  i history. I don’t think this is fair to or female athletes.  

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to  www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Feeding the World

February 16, 2022

February 16, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

A UK farmer named Paul Temple has put on the table some issues that I’m not sure the public even thinks about. Here is the question. Are the food producers in the world prepared to continue more food production to feed a hungry world?

We are doing great right now growing more food than ever before. “Since 2000, we have boosted
the harvest of the planet’s four primary crops - sugar cane, corn, wheat and rice – by 50%.” Meat
production is also up 50%. How did this happen? In a free-market economy producers respond to
demand. We have new technology today that I never imagined when I was a boy. With genetically
engineered crops, our yields have exploded. The weeds that we couldn’t control and the pests that
damaged our corn and soybeans have been killed with today’s crop protection tools.

With precision application, we feed our crop the appropriate amount of fertilizer – nitrogen, phosphate, pot ash. As good as we are today at feeding the world, the future is not as certain. We can’t continue to satisfy demand if we move to organic farming and fail to use genetic engineering of plants. Production could be cut by 30%. How many people would starve? If you think that food is expensive now, think again. We hear all of these uninformed, ignorant voices screaming that everything must be natural. They tell us that we don’t need anhydrous and all this new technology. The public needs to realize that if we want abundance in the future, we need to adopt and accept new technology. If we don’t, everyone will suffer – especially the poor.

Whole new subject – Eric Adams – “New Yorks City’s new mayor is endorsing a bill to let 800,000
non-citizens vote in local elections.” I thought that only U.S. citizens should be allowed to vote. I
don’t think we know where this idea came from. I guess I should not be surprised. It comes out of
New York City. It’s about the most Un-American idea I have ever heard.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Inflation

February 10, 2022

February 10, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I am concerned, and I am not alone. I remember the skyrocketing interest rates of the late 1970’s and early 1980. Farmers and ranchers along with other borrowers were paying 12% to 16% interest on their loans. Farmers borrow money almost every year to finance fertilizer, seed, chemicals, and machinery to plant, care for, and harvest their crops. The inflationary costs destroyed thousands of farms and all kinds of family businesses.

My concern is – are we headed down that road again? Our debt costs are very low now, but the
best way to hammer down inflation is to raise interest rates. That’s what they did in the early 1980s.
The Federal Reserve kept pushing rates up. I was Secretary of Agriculture then and met with our
Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker twice encouraging him to cut the rates. He said that he had
no choice. He had to fight inflation by raising rates. I guess it worked. Rates came down, but
businesses and families paid a big price.

Turn the calendar to today. U.S. government debt just passed $30 trillion. That’s more than 100%
of GDP. That is a number previously reached only during wartime. And for our government the
biggest risk will be the interest we will have to pay on all that debt. We have been getting along
fine on near zero interest on our debt, but what if it goes up like it did in 1980. To pay the interest
on our growing debt we will have to raise taxes or just stack up more debt.

I am concerned about the explosion in government spending. Our government has been extremely
generous with money handouts to help our businesses and families safely through the Covid-19
pandemic. It is time now to put the brakes on spending. Our economy looks good. Unemployment
of 4%. I’m sorry to say – all the Congress wants to do is flood the market with money. We used to
think balancing the budget was the right thing to do. A lot of our politicians don’t seem to care
much about that now. Free money and near zero interest rates will fan the flames of inflation. That
could be a serious, costly road to bankruptcy for many small businesses and families.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Border Issues

February 3, 2022

February 3, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now for today’s commentary.

All eyes have been on the eastern border of the Ukraine where Russia has amassed over 130,000
troops. Washington and the media have been consumed with the question: is Russia going to
invade the Ukraine – and if so – when? Some have speculated they will invade in late February
following the Beijing Olympics.

Let’s put this in perspective. There have been recent border issues with the Ukraine. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea in southern Ukraine. To the north, the Russian ally, Belarus, has also fortified Russian positions. In the east, several Ukrainian provinces align themselves with Russia given their strong historical, ethnic, and cultural ties. And what about our European allies? Well, Germany receives one-third of their oil and natural gas from Russia – and most Germans heat their homes with Russian natural gas. Given this and it being in the middle of winter, it is hard to imagine the largest economy in Europe providing decisive leadership against any Russian aggression.

If we learned anything from the Vietnam War, it’s that you don’t commit American troops into
armed conflict without a clear, achievable objective. And you don’t enter armed conflict without
strong public support. Recent polls show less than one-third of Americans support sending troops
to the Ukraine. And remember, every time a President commits our patriotic troops into foreign
conflict those young men and women are disproportionately from rural America.
Meanwhile, with the media consumed with the Ukraine, another crisis has been occurring over
the last year on our own border. According to Customs and Border Protection, over 2 million
apprehensions were made at our southern border in CY 2021. In December/2021 alone, over
178,000 apprehensions were made – and these statistics don’t include those illegal immigrants
not caught by CBP. Over half of those apprehended were from countries other than Mexico, El
Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In addition, over a dozen individuals apprehended were on
our terrorist watch list.

Revoking the Remain in Mexico policy and changing deportation rules over the last 12 months has encouraged immigrants seeking a better, more secure life to try and cross our southern border. Our porous southern border has also led to human trafficking that has directly benefitted Mexican drug cartels. Meanwhile, during FY 2021, CBP officers at eight south Texas points of

entry experienced an over 1,000 percent increase in fentanyl seized – much of which came from
China. Fentanyl and other illegal drugs crossing our southern border directly contributed to a
record 100,000 deaths last year from drug overdoses. In many rural communities, which
experience higher rates of drug addiction and overdoses than in urban areas, this has become a
public health crisis. Two border crises – one 5,000 miles away, the other along our own southern
border. The former has little public support to get directly involved – and has no clear,
achievable objective. The other has significant impacts on the U.S. economy, national security,
and public health. Which do you think deserves the full attention of Washington?

This is Randy Russell reporting from Washington.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Farm Bill

January 27, 2022

January 27, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend, Jack Block. And now today’s commentary- 

Next year, Congress will begin writing a new farm bill. I have had the honor and privilege to be involved with every farm bill going back to 1981 – when Jack first began as Secretary of Agriculture. The 2023 farm bill will be my 9th . I have learned from these experiences that there are three factors that drive the outcome of farm bills -- the state of the farm economy, politics, and the budget.

As Congress begins farm bill hearings early in 2022, the farm economy stands in good shape.
USDA projects net cash income to be its highest since 2014, farm exports are at record levels,
we have strong cash prices, and farm balance sheets are in relatively good shape. As far as
politics, the 2022 midterm elections could bring significant changes. Based on re-districting,
historical trends, and Joe Biden’s low approval ratings, Republicans are very likely to gain
control of the House and possibly the Senate. If this happens, GT Thompson of Pennsylvania, a
strong advocate for production agriculture, will then become Chairman of the House Agriculture
Committee. In the Senate, either Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, a highly skilled and effective
legislator with strong ties to agriculture, or John Boozman of Arkansas, a true friend and
advocate for production agriculture, would be Chairman. Regardless, bipartisanship is required
in the Senate to ensure the farm bill has at least 60 votes and will overcome any filibuster.

And finally, the budget, which plays a crucial role in farm bill debates. With our total federal debt reaching over $30 trillion and with annual federal budget deficits of $2 trillion, there simply won’t be any new money available to spend on program increases or new initiatives. This means any increases proposed for farm programs, crop insurance, trade, conservation, research, or nutrition must be offset by cuts in other areas of the farm bill. No new money will greatly complicate the writing of a new farm bill. Speaking of nutrition, we call the reauthorization of our nation’s farm, crop insurance, conservation, and research programs “farm bills.” But let’s face it – this is a misnomer. Over 75% of the nearly $1 trillion ten-year cost of the farm bill is nutrition – largely SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program. Yet, let’s be clear: the rural/urban coalition is essential to passing farm bills. Why? Well, with only 35 House Members from districts that are primarily rural, building effective partnerships with the nutrition community is pivotal to ensuring urban and suburban House Members support our very important farm related programs. Make no mistake – this coalition – the rural/urban partnership– is what passes farm bills. This is Randy Russell reporting from Washington.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Soybeans and Pigs

January 20, 2022

January 20, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

There is a powerful push all around the world to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas is driving climate change. That’s what they tell us. Soybean growers are positioned to cash in on this new opportunity. The American Soybean Association had this to say: “Renewable diesel is a cousin of biodiesel, but the two fuels are not the same. Renewable diesel is produced by processing fats and vegetable oils. Renewable diesel will dramatically reduce airplane emissions.”

President Biden has a goal to produce and use billions of gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
to drop aviation emissions 20% by 2030. We are planting about 80 million acres of soybeans per
year now. I am looking at a Farm Journal chart predicting 130 million acres of soybeans by 2024
to satisfy growing demand for vegetable oil. The Bioenergy Tech Office tells us – “Aviation is the
cheapest opportunity for biofuels to have an impact.” Southwest Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, United
and more airlines are making long term commitments to bio-based fuels. Other oilseeds including
sunflower and canola oil will see more demand also. According to James Fry, founder of LMC
International “soybean oil is in the driver’s seat as the key feedstock to fuel renewable diesel.” As
a corn and soybean farmer, this is very exciting.

I’m also a pig farmer, and now there is talk about how the heart of a pig could save a dying human being. Doctors transplanted a pig heart into a patient. Patient, David Bennett 57 said: “It was either die or do this.” He did not qualify for a human heart transplant. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center say the transplant showed that a heart from a genetically modified pig can function in the human body. So far so good. We shall see how it works. There are not enough human organs donated for transplant. So here come the pigs.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Challenges

January 13, 2022

January 13, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

We are in the New Year and Congress is supposed to start work on the next Farm Bill. The current bill expires at the end of 2023. There is plenty of time to get it done, but it takes a lot longer than you would expect. Sometimes there are some big changes. When I was Secretary in 1985, we ended the annual set aside program and started the Conservation Reserve Program. That was a big deal.

The American Farm Bureau Federation convention is this week. AFBF President Zippy Duvall is
pushing the Biden Administration to negotiate a Phase 2 trade deal with China and rejoin the
Trans – Pacific Trade Agreement. Another strong positive statement made by AFBF President:
“It is critical that this Administration understand that we should not need a team of lawyers and
consultants just to farm our land.” He is exactly right. This Administration wants to rewrite the
Waters of the U.S. rule to dictate to us how to farm. We have all kinds of challenges in
agriculture. Farmers in the business of raising pigs have a lot to worry about. In presenting this
threat I want to rely on Gary Baise (an attorney with Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC).
Gary is a lawyer working full time trying to protect and help farmers and ranchers faced with
over regulation and costly lawsuits. His article “Defending Agriculture – California’s New Pig
Rule Will Wreak Havoc With Pork Producers” notes:


“California Proposition 12 took effect on Jan 1, 2022. The law says anyone who wants to
sell pork to California’s consumers must abide by that state’s arbitrary, non-scientific
livestock housing requirements, passed by California voters 4 years ago. California will
send inspectors out to your farm to ensure your livestock buildings meet Proposition 12’s
space requirements. Did you know that California residents consume 13% of our nation’s
pork, but California farmers only produce 0.1% of that which is consumed? The case has
been taken to the Supreme Court but so far, no action. I thought we had free trade
between states. If this is left to stand, can you imagine the number of states putting up
similar barriers to protect their business? Think about how this California law will force
many family farms out of the pork business. Only big corporations will be able to pay the
price to rebuild their barns. Why should one single state be able to dictate if you can sell
their citizens a pork chop?”

Good job Gary Baise. We need all the help we can get to protect our industry.
If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

NATO vs. Putin

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

The United States and our European allies are being challenged again as they were 8 years ago by Mr. Putin’s Russia. In 2014 we warned Vladimir Putin “don’t invade Ukraine or you will face painful economic consequence.” Putin went right ahead and took over the Crimean Peninsula. That’s part of Russia now. Last week President Biden warned Putin “don’t invade Ukraine.” Well let’s hope Putin doesn’t do what he did 6 years ago. The last thing that we need is a war with Russia.

In spite of the angry rhetoric, the NATO team of nations with the U.S. in the lead should be able
to cut a deal with Putin. Putin does not want Ukraine to become a full member of NATO. He has
some other requests on his wish list, but Ukraine is at the top. Why wouldn’t we agree to not
bring Ukraine into NATO? I’m not convinced that NATO wants them anyway. European
countries have good reason to foster positive relations with Russia.

Next subject. Can we fix the meat industry? The consolidation since 1980 has not been helpful to farmers and ranchers. The 4 largest meatpackers in 1980 had a 36% market share. The top 4 today control 85% of the market. It’s like many other industries, including tech companies, banks, steel companies, on and on. The federal government has not seemed to be interested in antitrust enforcement. We did get some legislation last year, the Packers and Stockyards Act to “safeguard farmers and ranchers.” Let’s hope it can help us.

President Biden just announced $1billion to help small meat processors. Meat prices at the store
have gone through the roof and farmers are getting short-changed. We shall see.
If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Predictions

December 30, 2021

December 30, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I am on the phone today – will be back in the recording studio next week. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas. And now the New Year is just ahead. Today I want to talk about the Annual Cabinet luncheon that we have been having for more than 40 years. It all started with President Reagan’s Cabinet in 1981. Vice President Bush led our team of twelve for our first Cabinet luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. For 3 or 4 years we did that in December before Christmas. Then collectively we decided to expand it to include Cabinet members from both parties that had served other Presidents before us. That increased the crowd attending and both parties loved it.

In those early days we would have a luncheon speaker. Marshall Coyne, owner of the hotel,
served as the Chairman of the events. After a few more years, Mr. Coyne passed away. We were
not going to give it up. I took control to lead the event. We moved the luncheon to the Blair
House right beside the White House. Attendance has been strong -- in the range of 50-60 people.
We have had some great speakers including Justices of the Supreme Court. But in recent years,
instead of a speaker we have asked each Cabinet member to make a prediction.
Some are very serious. Some are just funny. Our cabinet lunch this year was December 3 rd . Over
the years I have chaired this event I had some really great help. This year Former Agriculture
Secretary Dan Glickman and Secretary Elaine Chao got the predictions from each attendee. I will
tell you about some of the predictions in the next week or two.

Right now, here are some predictions from 2019. Because of COVID-19 we missed 2020. That was the only miss in 40 years.

Predictions: Sec. Bob Mc Donald – Army will beat Navy. I predicted that this year and was disappointed.

2019 predictions:
Sec. Barbara Franklin – Next year is the 100th anniversary of the amendment that gave women the right to vote. We should be cheering. And they did.

Administrator Andrew Wheeler – Next year is the 50 th anniversary of EPA’s founding. EPA will announce a new Conference Center named after former Ambassador William Ruckelshaus who just passed away.

Two years ago I predicted that we would get a trade agreement phase 1 deal with China. We did.

I will make one more prediction today: President Biden will make a deal with Russian President Putin to avoid a Russian war to take over Ukraine. I think it can and should be done. I’ll talk about the details next week.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Merry Christmas

December 23, 2021

December 23, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

 And now today’s commentary-

It’s Christmas this weekend. There will be gift exchanges but what comes to my mind is how thankful I am to be here to enjoy friends, family and the love of life. I know we all have some wonderful memories of Christmas in our younger days. My sisters and I went to our one room country school for 8 years. There were 9 or 10 kids in the school with one teacher. No running water, two outhouses, a hand pump outside to get our water. Always at Christmas our teacher worked with us to put on a Christmas program for our families, singing Christmas carols.

We sang Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Jesus loves Me and more. All of our parents were there clapping their hands for us. We would wrap the celebration up with a dinner. I have a lot of other Christmas memories. But this is one that I can’t forget.

Now let’s focus on a very important issue of the day – inflation. The Federal Reserve had been telling us that inflation is “transitory.” Well, the Federal Reserve Chairman last week backed away from that assumption. He will begin raising interest rates and tighten up on U.S. government bond buying. Inflation hit 6.8% -- a 39 year high in November. Producer price index went up 9.6%. I will never forget when inflation just exploded in 1979, 1980, 1981. We were paying 16% interest on our farm borrowed money. I was Secretary of Agriculture and our Federal Reserve kept raising interest rates. They did that to kill inflation. And it worked. Those were brutal times forcing thousands of farmers out of business. Country banks went broke. Farmers and small businesses could not pay their loans.

For most farms this year 2021 has been a good year with higher prices. Net income for U.S. farms should hit $117 billion. Next year will be a different story. I was talking to the company where we buy our fertilizer. Prices have exploded. They are 2 or 3 times higher than last year.

Larry Summers, a highly respected Democratic economist had a lead editorial in the Washington Post the day after our Federal Reserve announced plans for a series of rate increases. Mr. Summers tells us that we need to “apply sufficient restraint to cause inflation to come down to its 2% target without pushing the economy into recession.” We need higher interest rates, or we can’t bring inflation down. But we don’t need the $5 trillion Build Back Better spending bill which would accelerate inflation. Thank you, Senator Manchin for saying “No.”

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues of the Day

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Here I am looking at a full-page picture of damage and destruction delivered by deadly
tornadoes. Hog barns, grain elevators, family homes, churches, everything destroyed. Kentucky
was hit the worst, but a number of other states were not spared. Our support and prayers must
reach out to the suffering families.

Now to focus on some issues of the day. Before you know it, we will be planting next year’s crops. As we approach planting season the EPA is considering denying farms the use of a number of herbicides that we have been using for years to kill weeds in our fields. If the EPA shuts the door now, I think it could be very difficult to find needed weed killers in time for planting.

Here is some good news. EPA announced the 2022 renewable fuel volume obligation of 20.77
billion gallons to be blended into our fuel. That will be good for our atmosphere because it burns
cleaner. That will also be good for our corn farmers. In recent years EPA has given small
refineries an exemption to avoid blending in ethanol. But not this year. We are cheering. We still
need one more EPA action. They should authorize year-round E15.
Now I want to compliment the Biden Administration. With a national labor shortage, we broke
the record for more H-2A farm workers coming to the U.S. this year than ever before. We
needed help.

Let’s talk trade now. First, we have a free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada (NAFTA). Those countries are two of our biggest trading partners. Our biggest ag trading country is China. President Trump’s Phase One deal with China has delivered big time for our ag industry. Recently our negotiators hammered out a new trade deal with the European Union. If we can keep the agreements in place, they can be a solid foundation for marketing. But we still have a lot to do.

President Trump began talking trade with the UK, but President Biden has done nothing. Now
the UK is negotiating with Canada on trade. We are left behind. Turn to Asia. We were part of a
big trading agreement with a large number of Asian countries, but President Trump pulled us out
of the deal. I don’t know if we can get back in or not. Why do farmers focus on trade? 25 or 30%
of our production is bought by other countries.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

American Hero

December 9, 2021

December 9, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Senator Bob Dole, after 98 years of service to his country, died December 5 th at age 98. There have been many articles written about his service in the military, service injuries in World War II, and as Senator from Kansas. He was a great American.

I would not have ever been selected as US Secretary of Agriculture for President Reagan if not
for Bob Dole. There I was sitting at my desk as Illinois State Director of Agriculture in
December 1981. I picked up the Wall Street Journal and started reading. Senator Dole had been
interviewed and he offered a list of 10 individuals that he said should be considered for President
Reagan’s Secretary of Agriculture. My name was on the list. I could not believe it, but I called
the Senator’s office in Washington and his secretary scheduled me to come to D.C. and meet
with the Senator. We had never met before I flew to Washington. We had a good discussion, and
I headed back to Illinois. At this time, little did I know, but after our meeting Senator Dole
prepared a map listing all the cabinet members President Reagan had chosen so far. Secretary of
Agriculture was not on the map. All the other selections were from the East Coast and West
Coast.

Senator Dole asked President-Elect Reagan to consider John Block – farmer from the Heartland, as Secretary of Agriculture. Two days later I received an invitation from President Reagan to fly to California and meet with him. I went to his home in Pacific Palisades, California. The President had 3 staff officials with him. After 2 hours I returned to my hotel. The phone rang, and President Reagan asked, “will you serve as my Secretary of Agriculture?” I said I will be proud to serve. I am so grateful. Thank you, Senator Bob Dole.

Turn to another issue of the day. During Obama’s Presidency the EPA issued a very restrictive
water rule that farmers hated. When Donald Trump was elected, he changed it. Now the Biden
Administration published a new EPA rule defining “Waters of the US.” This new rule seeks to
trash Donald Trump’s rule and also President Obama’s rule. We will go back to the rule that we
lived by on the farm for more than 30 years. What a relief. Farmers don’t need the Federal
government telling us how to manage every wetland on our farms. This EPA proposal still must
go through a period of review. We shall see.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Uncertain Times

December 2, 2021

December 2, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

I can hardly believe it. It’s December. Christmas is coming and then the New Year. Now I am grateful for a good crop this year and the prices are the best we have seen since 2012. That was a drought year. Over the years farmers have learned to not go crazy with optimism because we don’t know what lies ahead. We are already living with extreme increases in our cost of doing business- fertilizer, chemicals, fuel, machinery, labor production and expenses are all up.

I want to put an issue on the table that I haven’t talked much about. But it is in the paper and on
the news every day. Mostly in the big cities, organized retail theft is in the headlines. An
organized group of 20 or 30 individuals smashed windows, stole all kinds of merchandise from
Best Buy in Minneapolis. A San Francisco store was looted of more than $1 million worth of
property. Chicago stores were also sacked. What is going on? Are the city police being held back
from doing their job? Perhaps we just don’t have enough police because they have been
defunded. California has in place a law that if the thieves only steal $900 worth of merchandise,
they probably can get away with that. That’s not happening in rural America, and I pray it
doesn’t.

Our federal government has some very serious challenges. Last October 1st Congress passed a Continuing Resolution providing the money to fund our government until this Friday. After this Friday our government will shut down unless Congress acts. They could pass another Continuing Resolution extending funding into the spring. If Congress cannot agree to raise the debt limit before we run out of money, we won’t be able to pay the bills. Our government has gone through this before, and we survived. But with the bitter political conflicts today, who knows. Guess we’ll just wait and see. With so much uncertainty we still want to be happy.

I will close with some advice from Arthur Brooks of Harvard. “A lot of our happiness is out of
our control. But some of it, we can control. It requires that we invest in 4 things. They are- faith,
family, friends and work in which we earn our success and serve others.” In these difficult times
that’s pretty good advice.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Thanksgiving 2021

November 25, 2021

November 25, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

The House of Representatives last Friday passed a huge spending bill. It is a liberal spending bonanza. If we give enough money, that should buy votes. The bill passed 220-213. Not one Republican vote. You can argue that the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law was bipartisan. But this entitlement legislation is not. Here is where the money goes: enhanced child allowances, earned income tax credit money, childcare entitlements, universal pre-kindergarten, and a lot more.

Proponents of the bill say the spending will be only $2 trillion over 10 years. That’s because
much of this big spending is only authorized for 1 or 2 or 3 years. They wrote it that way to make
it look cheap. But it won’t be cheap because once they start giving something away, they can’t
stop. Senator Joe Manchin (Democrat) calls it “a shell game of budget gimmicks.”
They tell us the cost of the bill over 10 years would total about $2 trillion. Independent analysts
put the cost at nearly $5 trillion over a decade. And it will cost that much because our
government will not shut down the money faucet. The legislation does increase some taxes, but
that will not even pay for half the cost.

Fortunately, the bill is not law yet. It passed the House and now goes to the Senate. Without question the Senate will change it. Some of the spending could be reduced. Keep in mind – the Senate is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. With changes it must go back to the House for a final vote. With all the concerns about inflation, it is possible the bill will never survive. Inflation is at 6.2% - the highest in 30 years.

Turn the page and let’s focus on something very positive. Thanksgiving - in spite of our battle
with COVID-19 and political fights - we have a lot to be thankful for. We can be grateful that we
live in the USA. We know the US is not perfect, but people from all over the world want to come
here. This is the land of opportunity, and they know it. That’s why they take so much risk to get
across our border legally and illegally. Thanksgiving makes me reflect – my father and mother
and sisters on the farm at our turkey dinner. Let’s grip hands and thank God for another
Thanksgiving.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Down on the Farm

November 18, 2021

November 18, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Last week I was on the farm in Illinois. We wrapped up harvest. Normally we would have
everything picked by the end of October. Not this year. Fall rains have held a lot of farms back.
In driving through that beautiful farm country, it was clear that some farms had more to do. Late
harvested corn was not standing as well as it should. Grain elevators that take in a lot of our grain
and soybeans told me that crop quality was deteriorating in some late picked fields.
Watching our combine come across the field and harvest the last rows of corn is a relief and time
to celebrate another successful year. I want to compliment all of the dedicated farmers and farm
workers that bring in the food that feeds the U.S. and the world. Now is the time to apply
fertilizer on our fields to feed next year’s crop. Get it done before this rain and snow and frozen
ground shut us out. Costs for next years crop are going off the chart. Fertilizer is double in price.
Seed and weed killers will both jump up in price. We all know that fuel cost is almost double.
We have to be grateful that grain and livestock prices are better than they were in recent years.
It seems that everything is getting much more expensive. Your Thanksgiving turkey will cost
20% more. Cranberries up 74%. Corn bread up 38%. Food is not going to get cheaper. With the
increased cost of energy, labor shortages, supply chain problems and machinery costs. We just
have to budget for the fire of inflation.

Another very timely subject that I want to talk about – The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed and President Biden just signed. It is a $1.2 trillion package designed to upgrade our bridges, roads, ports and broadband. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will add $256 billion to our deficit. Although there is some spending in there that is not infrastructure, I think it is worth the cost. Here is what the bill will do –

Build and repair our roads and bridges - $110 billion
Upgrade our railroads - $66 billion
Upgrade power lines - $65 billion
Water pipes - $55 billion
Public Transit - $39 billion
Airports - $23 billion and more. The ag industry is very excited to get started on this big project.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Recent Elections

November 11, 2021

November 11, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now today’s commentary. 

Just one week ago there were elections in Virginia and New Jersey that sent a clear message—Americans don’t want to be governed by the political left. Glenn Youngkin, a businessman and political novice, beat former Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe by two percentage points. Just 12 months ago Joe Biden carried Virginia by over 10 points. Interestingly, one year ago Glenn Youngkin’s name recognition stood at less than 2%. Republicans also elected Winsome Sears as Lt. Governor and Jason Miyares as Attorney General, the first African American and Latino, respectively, to serve in these positions in Virginia history. And Republicans gained control of the House of Delegates.

What happened in Virginia? Youngkin ran a state-based election focusing on education, school
curriculums, and holding local school boards accountable. Meanwhile, McAuliffe tried to
nationalize the campaign linking Youngkin to Donald Trump every opportunity he could. In the
end, McAuliffe’s strategy failed. Youngkin won Virginia’s rural counties with 80% of the vote,
won the Hispanic vote by 9 points, and made substantial inroads with suburban women who
strongly favored his focus on education and local school curriculums.

Meanwhile, New Jersey, a state Joe Biden won by 16 points, saw incumbent Governor Phil Murphy eke out a slim victory over a political novice. And in a stunning upset, truck driver Ed Durr, who spent just $2,000 on his campaign, beat Steve Sweeney, the President of the New Jersey State Senate. And finally in Minneapolis, voters rejected by 12 points a ballot initiative that would abolish the Police Department and establish a Department of Public Safety.

So…. what is the key takeaway from last week’s election? Governing from the left is not what most Americans want nor expect from the Government. Most importantly, government overreach—including excessive spending and continued mandates—aren’t what people voted for in the 2020 elections. And in an ominous sign for Congressional Democrats, Dave Wasserman, a highly respected political observer is now predicting that the Republicans will pick up 40 seats
in the House and take back control of the Senate in 2022.

Beyond the elections, the U.S. House of Representatives, after months of infighting, completed action on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill which will fund roads, bridges, ports and rural broadband. Far less certain is the fate of the so-called human infrastructure package which would greatly expand health and education programs and new climate-related initiatives. Continued debate between progressives and moderates in the House and Senate, such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have left the fate of this nearly $2 trillion package in doubt.

Finally, a very special thanks to all those who have served in the military. It is because of their
efforts and sacrifices that each of us are blessed to live in this Great Nation. As we celebrate
Veterans Day, God bless every one of our veterans! May we never ever take for granted the
freedoms they fought and sacrificed for. This is Randy Russell reporting from Washington.
If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Trade Disputes

November 8, 2021

November 8, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

This last week President Biden met with European leaders at the Group of 20 Summit in Rome. Here is some good news. We have a deal with Europe to roll back our tariffs on European steel and aluminum. Those tariffs were imposed by President Trump to provide relief to our own industry. Of course, when we put tariffs on Europe, they retaliated with tariffs on our products going to Europe including orange juice, motorcycles, and bourbon whiskey. Europe was scheduled to impose even more tariffs on other products if we could not reach an agreement, but we have an agreement, and it will drive down the cost of our cars and farm machinery.

Our bourbon companies are pleased and so are our farmers that sell the grain to make the
whiskey. And now Europe will buy it. President Biden has wanted to strengthen our relationship
with Europe. Last June the US and EU announced an end to a 17-year dispute we have had over
aircraft subsidies. A month ago, we negotiated a new agreement on global minimum tax. Now
the US and EU should be able to work together more effectively. But the US-EU deal is just a
start. We have tariffs on many other countries that need to be negotiated. We still have duties on
metal coming from South Korea, Japan, and the UK. We have been working with the UK to
solve that trade conflict. But it isn’t done. It takes forever. Don’t forget, China is our biggest
problem. At this point President Biden has not even met with President Xi.

A long list of world leaders is now meeting in Glasgow Scotland to find agreement on what we can do to slow down the climate change. But Chinese President Xi and Russian President Putin are not in attendance. China has more people living in their country than any other country in the world. And China is number two right behind US as an economic power. I’m not optimistic about how much will get done in Glasgow. I am going to the farm in Illinois next week. Hope we can wrap up the harvest. Randy Russell will fill in for me next week while I drive the combine.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Energy Expense

October 28, 2021

October 28, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Hard to believe that it is almost November. Our harvest on the farm is not quite wrapped up. I am starting to think about next year and the challenges we will face. We can not ignore the explosion in the cost of energy. Winter is coming. The pain of rising energy prices is already being felt. Electricity is up near 6%. Natural gas for home heating up 2% and headed higher. Look what has happened in Europe. Natural gas is six times as expensive as last year. Electricity prices in the UK have jumped 700% from last year. European wind and power cannot deliver the needed electricity because the wind didn’t blow and the sun didn’t shine. Now they are importing oil and gas and coal from wherever they can get it. That includes Russia. Our energy problems here in the U.S. don’t measure up to those in Europe, but they should not and will not be ignored. A cold winter could remind us.

The serious energy shortages are making the budgeting for next year’s farming much more
difficult. Here is what we are looking at. Our fertilizer costs are skyrocketing. That’s because
natural gas can account for 85% of the cost to make ammonia and urea. Fertilizer for our crops
will cost as much as three times what we spent last year. Fertilizer is essential for growing, not
just corn, but also wheat, oats, barley and more.

Prices keep rising because demand for fuel exceeds supply. Gas up your car at the gas station. That gets your attention. LP gas to dry our grain, diesel fuel for our trucks, tractors, combines – all of that will add to the farm budget expenses. Soybeans don’t require as much fertilizer as corn – therefore predictions are that some farms will switch from planting as much corn to more soybeans. World producers will still need corn to feed the livestock or meat prices will shoot up.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but next year looks to be a big challenge for the
farmers of the world. I think we can accept a gradual shift from fossil fuels, but we can’t move
this fast. Excessive anti-carbon policies can fuel inflation and cost our economy.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

October 22, 2021

October 22, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

Senator Bernie Sanders and his Socialist-leaning Members of Congress continue to press to spend more money on social programs. I remember when President Reagan came to town, he stood up for smaller government, less regulations, less spending. A new Gallup poll today says that support for bigger government is headed down. Only 43% want more government. We don’t need a dramatic expansion of the welfare state.

Turn to trade which is so important for our country. Our U.S. Trade Representative Katherine
Tai has a big challenge in dealing with China. The Biden Administration is not ready to just lift
tariffs on China imposed by President Trump. It is a real trade war. China has tariffs of 58.3% on
imports from U.S. We have a 66.4% tariff on China’s goods coming into the U.S.
Representative Tai says “decoupling relations with China is not a realistic outcome in terms of
our global economy. Washington needs a co-existence with Beijing.” I agree. China has the
biggest population and just behind the U.S. has the number two economy in the world. We need
to live together and avoid conflict. We don’t want trade conflict and we certainly don’t want
military conflict.

The Phase One trade deal that President Trump negotiated with China is worth keeping even though China is coming up short on purchases from the U.S. Representative Tai said “We need to communicate directly with China. Our objective is not to inflame trade tensions with China.” Also, it isn’t a good idea to rely too much on any one country when it comes to trade. We do need to diversify. However, as long as China is buying, we are selling. Since China has made progress in controlling African Swine Fever, they have rebuilt their swine herds and that pork export market is on the decline. But the Chinese beef market is booming. Our beef exports to China are up 21% compared to last year. U.S. total ag exports will exceed our ag imports this year which is a reversal of the last two years. I don’t have the time to cover the threat of inflation, but maybe next week. Gasoline, rent, food, labor everything is up – 5.4% and rising.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Exports

October 14, 2021

October 14, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now today’s commentary:
Last week USDA released its latest forecast for U.S. agricultural exports, and it contained great
news for the farm sector. Farm exports for this past year hit $173 billion and are projected to
reach a record $178 billion in 2022. Strong gains in exports of soybeans, pork, beef, cotton, and
sorghum have led the way.

And remember all that discussion about the Phase I China deal? Well, in 2021 exports are expected to reach $37 billion and are forecast at a record level of $39 billion for 2022. This makes China our top export market followed by Canada at $24 billion and Mexico at $22 billion. These three markets—China, Canada, and Mexico—represent nearly half of all U.S. farm exports. This is exactly why the agriculture and food industry were such strong supporters of USMCA and the China Phase I Agriculture Agreement. Farm exports are indeed the lifeblood of our industry.

Speaking of exports, we continue to be hampered by breakdowns in the agriculture and food
supply chain. Two major impediments are: labor shortages and bottlenecks at key ports. Last
week the Department of Labor reported that in September the U.S. economy created just 194,000
jobs. This, despite the fact that there are 11 million job openings. And the labor participation fell
to under 62%. How can this be? Well, Congress has provided massive worker assistance during
the pandemic creating, in some cases, disincentives to work. Meanwhile, as schools re-opened,
childcare challenges have grown while some workers have chosen to re-think their careers as
working from home has become more common place.

Also hampering supply chains is the enormous backlog at major ports. As of last week, nearly 500 cargo vessels were docked off of major ports in Asia, the U.S. and Europe. Labor shortages at the docks, shortages of truck drivers and China bidding up container rates have led to massive delays in the export and import of food, consumer goods and energy. Twenty years ago, the top 10 global shipping companies handled about half of all trade. Today they control 82%. Key Members of the House and Senate have called on the Federal Maritime Commission to investigate the industry, the rates they are charging and the port backlog. This is something the Government clearly needs to address. One final point—there is a growing concern in the agriculture industry about foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and agriculturally-related assets. In the months ahead, look for Congress to take a closer look at this trend as part of their focus on building a more resilient food supply chain. This is Randy Russell reporting from Washington.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Down on the Farm

October 7, 2021

October 7, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Harvest is here. I was at the farm in Illinois last week. We have two combines – one harvesting corn and the other harvesting soybeans. Riding that combine and watching that big machine stop. Our corn wagon pulls alongside as our combine crosses the field. Corn is augured into the wagon on the move.

Our corn yields are pretty good. 210-220 bushel per acre. Soybeans are better – more than 60
bushels per acre. I can’t help but think about all the challenges and uncertainty a farmer must
endure to get to the finish line. Our fields were fertilized with nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and in
some cases and lime, right after last Fall’s harvest. Last Spring when soil temperature reached 50
degrees, we started planting. Oh yes, we had to buy the seed. Also, we had to spray on weed
killer. On some fields we applied fungicide by airplane. All of this cost money and time. If you
neglect something, you will have weeds in your fields. Most farms have to borrow a lot of
money to pay for all of the expensive inputs. That means that you better have a good crop to pay
off the debt.

Prices are better this year than the last 3 or 4 years. That will help. I know there are some farms that have experienced drought, wind, or other weather challenges. But unpredictable weather hits all of us from time to time. I have some river bottom land that can flood. Weather and prices are out of our control. In spite of the challenges – I love farming. I love to actually produce something that we all need. Watch it roll into the combine. Take it to the elevator. Sell it, then celebrate. I don’t want to forget our hogs. They are happy and healthy.

Prices this year have been much better than the last year. But we do have something to worry
about. African Swine Fever confirmed in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We don’t want any
of that. African Swine Fever wiped out half of Chinese hogs in the last two years. They are
building back up, but that disease can be devastating. Now we have thousands of Haitian
immigrants flooding across our southern border. Don’t bring in any pigs or pork chops. Wild
boars could spread the disease across the country as they did in Germany and Poland.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Fiscal Crossroads

September 30, 2021

September 30, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now for today’s commentary.

Once again, Washington finds itself in a state of fiscal dysfunction. It is facing several major issues:
funding the government by Thursday or face another government shutdown; raising the debt
ceiling by the end of October or the federal government defaults on its debt; and trying to finish a
basic infrastructure bill to fund our highways, bridges, ports and rural broadband.
Meanwhile, the White House and Congressional Democrats are trying to advance a so-called
human infrastructure bill which would greatly expand Medicare, Medicaid and educational
funding—to the tune of $3.5 trillion. And some budget experts suggest the real price tag could
exceed $5 trillion. To help pay for it—there will be higher taxes for individuals, corporations, and
potentially on farm assets.

The federal government has been on a spending spree the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020, Congress has passed six relief packages, totaling $5.2 trillion. Throw in the $1.2 trillion basic infrastructure package and the Democratic-led $3.5 trillion human infrastructure package and Congress will potentially approve $10 trillion in new spending in just 18 months. And this is on top of the over $5 trillion annual budget for the federal government.

Each of us as Americans are responsible for our own family budgets. We have to live within our
means. Yet the federal government operates on different rules. By the end of December, the U.S.
will have rung up $30 trillion in total debt. Remember, the value of the U.S. economy is about $24
trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, we are now adding over $1 trillion every
year in additional debt because we are living outside our means.

These key funding issues, coupled with the southern border crisis where over 2 million illegal immigrants will attempt to cross the border by the end of 2021, the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle, and growing consumer concerns about inflation have put the Administration at a key inflection point.

Recent national polls have shown the President’s approval rating falling below 45%. And, in the
key swing state of Iowa, a recent Des Moines Register poll showed the President’s approval rating
at just 31%. Buckle up—in an already highly divisive political environment-- we are headed on a
very long and bumpy road as Fall officially begins.

Finally, on a personal note, I want to congratulate Jack and his wife Alex on the marriage of their
daughter Savannah this past weekend. My wife and I were honored and blessed to attend. What a
joyous celebration on a spectacular Fall evening. I have known Savannah her entire life and her
husband Jordan for several years—and you won’t find two more outstanding people.
Congratulations to the entire Block family for a truly wonderful celebration.

This is Randy Russell reporting from Washington.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Problems

September 23, 2021

September 23, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

The Biden Administration has been telling us that “our borders are not open.” We all know that is
not a true statement. There was a migrant surge on our Mexican border of more than 200,000 in
the month of August. And now with the damaging weather problems in Haiti, a new explosion of
refugees just walked across the Rio Grande River into the US. The small city of Del Rio, Texas
had 15,000 Haitians under a bridge.

Yes- some of them will be deported, but many will not. Others will be allowed to claim asylum in the US. Our laws allow the migrants to be released in the U.S. to work until their asylum claims are heard by our courts. That can take years. They have education for their children and health care.

Countries with poor people, no opportunity, and war – of course they want to come to the US.
They think the door is open. But we need to close it. We can use more people, but we should pick
and choose and bring them in through a legal process. All the talk in Congress is focused on budget,
and funding bills. The turmoil and conflict are just beginning. My priority would be to pass the
bipartisan infrastructure bill. Hurricane Ida just reminded us how much work we have to do. Our
river transportation suffers from locks and dams that need repair. Don’t forget the roads, bridges,
and electricity grid. And broadband is desperately needed in many rural communities. There is no
justifiable reason to also spend an additional $3.5 trillion of our money. That is just too much.

Next up – trade. China wants to join the Transpacific Partnership Trade Agreement which has 11 Pacific Rim countries as members. The U.S. was a member and in fact helped write the agreement when Obama was President. Then, newly elected, President Trump withdrew our memberships. That was a terrible mistake. We don’t want to be on the outside looking in. President Biden should get the U.S. back into that Partnership, and then figure out how to deal with China’s request to join.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Welfare Bill

September 16, 2021

September 16, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

The Wall Street Journal opinion page reminds us that the $3.5 trillion “Cradle to the Grave” entitlement bill could transform America in 17 days.” President Biden and his allies are pushing it. Keep in mind it is not passed yet, and we can expect it to be cut back in scope. We now have some idea of the proposed tax changes. “As a share of GDP, it is the largest tax increase since 1968.” The top individual rate will go up from 37% to 39.6%.

My point of view is if we spend money, we need to pay for it. I’m not against getting more
money from the very rich individuals and big corporations. However, I think it would damage
our economy and be a big mistake to over tax small business. We want family businesses to be
passed on to the next generation – not taxed out of business. The stepped-up basis that we have
today makes that possible. It looks like the legislation will keep that in place. That’s good.
However, they propose to cut the death tax exemption in half from $11 million to $5.5 million.
That could wipe out a lot of farms and ranches. The whole gigantic spending bill is a
redistribution of wealth, increase in regulations and more debt for our children and
grandchildren.

Next subject- I was shocked to read this week how the price of electricity in Europe and the UK has exploded. The wind in the North Sea has quit blowing. No wind-no power. Gas prices and coal have surged. They need back up power when the wind wont blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Europe is importing gas and coal from Russia and the U.S. This just reminds us- don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Livestock producers in the U.S. have long been concerned about the highly concentrated meat packing sector. Seventy percent of the processing is done by 4 companies. It’s hard not to notice the big jump in the cost of beef, pork, and even chicken. Increased competition would be good for the industry and consumers.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Labor Day

September 8, 2021

September 8, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Monday this week was Labor Day. Thank you to the hard-working men and women that carry the load of our great nation into a positive productive future. It has not been easy. Parts of Louisiana and the Northeast U.S. were hit by Ida’s destructive wind and rain. The path of the hurricane blew down farm crops. Some crops are still under water. The labor to repair and rebuild will be huge.

Thank you to the fire fighters in the West. With the drought, western rivers are only a fraction of
their normal size. The COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly came upon the whole world. Thank
you to the doctors, nurses, and others that have stepped up to care for us. Let’s not forget the
farm workers. Without them we wouldn’t have food to eat. I know the police have been getting a
lot of criticism, but we really need them to keep law and order so our economy can function.
I’m not going to sing it today, but I love the country song “Small Time Laboring Man.” In 1894
President Grover Cleveland signed into law Labor Day as a national holiday. That was good.
Next here in DC the pressure for congressional action to pass huge spending bills just won’t go
away. If they get $5 trillion of spending passed, they will never find the money to pay for it. But
the liberals still want to eliminate the stepped-up basis when a family owner dies. The death tax
will be the death of the family businesses. Family business in the U.S. is vital to our nation’s
future and prosperity.

Last subject- good news. The ag industry has a good case to make. Environmentalists have called meat “the world’s most urgent problem. Steaks and hot dogs damage the planet.” To set the record straight, our diet including meat has almost no impact on the climate. According to the EPA, agriculture is responsible for only 10% of greenhouse emissions. Our livestock is responsible for only 5% of US emissions and only 1% of global emissions. So, environmentalists - quit telling us what to eat. I’m going to grill a steak tonight.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

News of the Day

September 3, 2021

September 3, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

President Biden surrenders to the Taliban. The war in Afghanistan is officially over. After 20
years of conflict and more than 2400 American lives lost and 20,000 of our service members
wounded, and now the Taliban rules Afghanistan. I wanted us to get out. But not like we did.

On the home front our Senate has passed a budget with an explosive increase in new spending. The $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill should be enough, but it is not enough for the big spending liberals. They want to spend another $3.5 trillion. The money will expand childcare, Medicare, free community college. All kinds of humanitarian aid. Where will we get the money? We could find some money. Many of our biggest corporations pay no taxes. Thousands of the richest individuals in our country pay almost no taxes. $5 trillion of new spending is hard to justify. Although the Senate passed the bill, the House has not, and they should not without dramatically cutting the cost. And don’t take the money away from small businesses and farms.

We all know that COVID-19 has taken a lot of lives. But did we know that violence and crime in
our nation’s capital and many of our largest cities is resulting in more homicides than the
pandemic. Murders in 29 big cities have spiked 16% this year. “Philadelphia had 22 Covid-19
deaths and 34 homicides last month. Cook County (Chicago) had 74 COVID-19 deaths in July
and 105 homicides.” Our nation and big cities need to prioritize this. Some states have ignored
the problem. In California you can walk into a store and walk out with $900 worth of
merchandise. No worry. You can get away with it.

Here is some positive information. Ag exports this year are expected to set a new record of $173.5 billion with ag imports at $157.5 billion. That’s a lot better than the ag trade deficit that we ran in 2019 and 2020.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

China, Food Stamps and Afghanistan

August 28, 2021

August 28, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

China lost more than half of their pork production because of deadly African Swine Fever. Then
our pork exports to China exploded. But now they are getting the disease under control. Hog
numbers are up, and they are buying record tons of our soybeans. China is our biggest market.
As they bring back their pork production, they are modernizing their commercial operations.
Twenty years ago, almost all producers were small – marketing less than 1000 pigs. Those back
yard farms will be gone. Mega farms are the future in China. They have only 9% of the world’s
cropland and 20% of the world’s population. That means without question China will
continue to be a major food importer.

I opened today by bringing up China’s struggle with African Swine Fever. We need to guard against that deadly disease. It is not a threat to people, but our pigs need to worry. There are cases in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries not far from our coast.

New subject – Food Stamps. The Biden Administration has announced a huge food stamp increase. A family of four can receive $835. Per month. That is a 27% increase over the pre-pandemic level. One objective is to make it possible for recipients to buy healthier food. But they probably won’t do that. I’m not against
food stamps. Some families need that support. The school lunch program is very helpful. From a farmer–food producer point of view, we want to feed people. That is our market. We just don’t want to unnecessarily increase dependency.

Finally, the news is dominated by Afghanistan and our effort to bring our citizens home safely, and let’s not forget about our allies. There are 20,000 or more that are frantic to escape. Of course, we also want to rescue the Afghans that worked for us. They are not safe as the Taliban takes control of everything. Besides, our concern about citizen safety, we have left behind billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment – guns, armored vehicles, Black Hawk helicopters, drones, and sophisticated technology. The Taliban has all of this now. Our chaotic departure is a costly international disgrace.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

This and That

August 20, 2021

August 20, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

I’m going to target a number of timely issues today. But the one in the headlines is the almost
overnight collapse of the Afghan government. In the last 2 or 3 weeks the Taliban has taken
control of the whole country. It is absolute chaos. I have for years hoped we could get out of
Afghanistan. But not like this. After fighting a war for 20 years and spending more than $1
trillion, we have nothing. Think about our own fighters that died and their families. The Biden
administration did not have a departure plan. It is humiliating. The whole world is watching.
I need to turn the page. Food insecurity in the world is up 32% from 2020. That is 1.2 billion
hungry people. The COVID –19 pandemic has caused supply problems. In addition – incomes
are lower and prices higher. The nations that hurt the worst are in Asia and Africa. The United
States government is the leader in delivering humanitarian assistance. Big challenge.

Let’s turn back to USA. Last month immigrants detained crossing our southern border set a new record of 200,000. Some are returned to the country from which they came. However, 83,000 – that is 43% were released in the U.S. We don’t know where they go. In addition, thousands are not caught at the border. They go where they want to go. This is a crisis, and we are not dealing with it effectively. I know that we need immigrants, but we should select the ones that we want and bring them in legally.

Last on this week’s list – Turn to pigs. We raise pigs on my farm. I grew up with pigs – showing
my pigs at the 4-H show, Knox County Fair and Illinois State Fair. But my pigs were not wild.
Our southern states have a lot of wild pigs. They have been moving northward. They are in
southern Illinois. My sows run in the field – not locked in pens in a barn. I worry about the wild
pigs. They can spread disease. We don’t have African Swine Fever yet in the U.S., but wild pigs
brought it into Germany. I bring this up because it is a serious risk to be concerned about.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Death Tax

August 12, 2021

August 12, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

We read and hear about a $3.5 trillion anti-poverty and climate bill the Democratic leadership wants to pass. But we can’t afford to spend that much money. They say, “no problem. We can just tax the rich.” O.K. Let’s take a serious look at one proposed tax idea. It is the transfer tax, and it will destroy family farms and small businesses of all kinds. Turn our attention to Representative Collin Peterson, a Democrat. He led the House Agriculture Committee for years in the business of Agriculture. He has enormous respect on both sides of the aisle. Here is what he thinks about the proposed transfer tax on family farms at death.

“Over the years we fought to get the estate tax exemption raised and to keep the step up
in basis system, and the law is now a culmination of policies that work well for farmers. I
would argue this transfer tax, which could be as high as 43.4%, is the worst idea that has
been proposed in terms of its impact on agriculture in my lifetime. This proposal is a
direct assault on agriculture because it will prohibit the transfer of a family farm from one
generation to the next which is the last thing we should want to do. If this proposal
becomes law, you could have a situation where upon the death of a farmer, his family
will owe more than the equity that they have in the “farm operation.”

I think small businesses are the base and foundation of our nation’s prosperity. I read that Congress is somewhat concerned about foreign owners buying our farmland – especially China. Well, if the proposed transfer tax becomes law, millions of acres will be up for sale. Families will not be able to stay in business. There will be no escape. Virtually every farm family will be affected. At this point the proposed tax bill is not law – yet. We need to continue the fight to stop it. 

Let me close by saying “Get your COVID-19 vaccination shot.” I got mine back in February. Didn’t hurt at all. You will be a lot safer.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Farming - A Challenge

August 5, 2021

August 5, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

 And now for today’s commentary –

 Drought and wildfires are still taking a toll in the west. Some vegetable farms in California have not been able to get the moisture to raise their crops. They can’t get rain or irrigation water. The last year has been costly and difficult for many of our families and small businesses.

 Our farms and ranches are blessed with better prices. That will be a big lift for those that are able to raise a good crop. On the other hand, we will be harvesting our crop soon. We will be applying fertilizer this fall for next year’s corn and soybean crops. Our import costs are going through the roof. Anhydrous ammonia is priced from 40-60% higher than last year. Natural gas is a major ingredient in fertilizer production, and gas prices are almost double what we spent last year. We will need to buy phosphates and potash to feed next year’s crop of corn. The price is up 70%. The higher input costs will raise production costs more than $60 per acre.

 Why the explosion in cost? One reason is with a world still trying to recover from COVID-19, our global supply chains are not operating as they should. Pandemic related production problems persist. Farming and ranching are never easy and always challenging – but I love it.

 New subject – Most of us have spent at least some time watching and reading about the Olympic Games in Japan. It is sad and quite a contrast comparing the almost empty stands in Japan and our baseball stadiums filled full here in the U.S. The athletes that we are watching are so fantastic. Makes me think back to former years. I will never forget in 1980 during the Cold War when our U.S. Hockey Team defeated the Soviet Union. One for the history books. In 1992 our basketball “Dream Team” had Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Over the years we have had so many outstanding athletes representing the U.S. The USA is the envy of the world. People from other countries all over the world want to come here to live. Some are welcomed legally. Other just walk across the border illegally. The USA is a great nation. Are we perfect? Of course not. None of the countries in the world are. I fly the stars and stripes on my front porch, and I am proud of it.

 If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

July 29, 2021

July 29, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

We have had a lot of hot days this summer. Heat can be even worse when it is accompanied by drought. Look at California – 95% of that state is in severe drought. Even here in the Midwest, North Dakota has 93% of the state under severe drought. We all know this is the growing season. Not only will the drought hurt our grain crops, don’t forget that cattle need pasture and hay. And right now, we have the worst national ratings of pastureland since 1995. Not surprising ranchers are starting to cull their herds. We are seeing an 11% increase in beef cow slaughter. Cow slaughter is out-pacing heifer retention. That suggests that a year from now we won’t have much beef steak. The farming industry cannot escape weather uncertainty.

Here is something else we need – oil and gas. Rising energy costs are pushing up the cost for
farmers and consumers. Even President Biden has encouraged the global oil-producing nations to
crank up production. He signed an agreement supporting the controversial pipeline between
Russia and Germany. President Biden gives the green light to other nations forcing fuel
production but wants to shut the U.S. down. He closed down the construction of the Keystone
Pipeline. He is moving to stop the leases on federal land, suspended leases in Alaska’s Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge. I know our President wants to fight climate change, but we shouldn’t
be expected to do this alone. We will have to pay more for energy. Let’s not let Congress off the
hook. We don’t have an infrastructure bill agreement. The House has not passed an
appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2022. They are scheduled to go on vacation next week.
Don’t hold your breath, hoping for any deal.

Here is my last point on how U.S. citizens should vote. Recent polls show that “79% of U.S. adults think voters should be required to show a government-issued ID whenever they vote.” Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all support this. Therefore, with few exceptions – every state should require that you go to the polling place, show your ID, and vote. That’s the way to ensure election integrity.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

July 22, 2021

July 22, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Gary Baise, an attorney with OFW, brought this to my attention. I am shocked. The U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that gives California the right to deny the sale of pork, veal, and other farm products in California unless producers comply with that state’s confinement standards. California should not be able to adopt trade barriers designed to dictate to farms in other states. Now farmers in the Midwest and other states will have to spend millions on new livestock facilities or go out of business. I thought we had free trade between states.

Next subject: We haven’t escaped the COVID-19 virus yet. In the U.S., every state reports an
increase in new cases. Trader anxiety is one reason the stock market took a dive on Monday.
Crude oil prices slid 7.5%. We are starting to worry about the U.S. economic recovery and the
rest of the world as well. There isn’t much confidence since our relationship with China just hit
another rough patch. This Monday, the U.S., Europe, and other world powers have “accused the
Chinese government of a broad array of cyber-attacks.” Microsoft was just one of a large number
of other companies that were targeted. A White House statement read “China’s pattern of
irresponsible behavior in cyberspace is inconsistent with its stated objective of being seen as a
responsible leader in the world.” I’m starting to think that with all the technology that the world
has today there is no security for any one or any company. Spyware hacks are everywhere.
 
On the farm front – prices of most commodities are holding up in spite of the uncertainty. Some
of our toughest competitors have suffered severe weather problems. The soybean crop in Brazil
was pretty good, but the drought has seriously cut their corn yield. Dry weather in Canada, here
in the U.S. on the West Coast, and in some northern states is taking a toll. Also, on the farm front
– Did you know that China has been buying up U.S. farmland? They have 192,000 acres. That’s
not very much since we have 900 million acres. But some government officials want to keep an
eye on their ownership. It could become a national security issue. Also, China owns our biggest
pork processing company, Smithfield.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Executive Orders

July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Last week President Biden signed a broad Executive Order designed to ensure that we have more competitive markets. We have too many huge corporations. They keep buying up their competitors and just get bigger. Smaller companies compete at a disadvantage. Biden says, “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation.” Antitrust enforcement has been a priority of the President’s agenda. The use of Executive Orders to get something done is not new. For 20 years our presidents – both parties – have used Executive Orders. President Trump was criticized for making too many Executive Orders.

Let’s take a look at what President Biden’s Orders could mean to the food and ag industry.
Farmers and ranchers have been very vocal about the market’s failure to give them the prices
they feel are justified – especially for beef, pork, and dairy. The number of companies that sell
chemicals and seeds has been on a constant decline for more than 20 years. The Covid-19
pandemic reminded us that we need more processing capacity. Meat producers lost a lot of
money. The Secretary of Agriculture said it was time to “level the playing field for farmers and
ranchers.” I know farmer friends that had to depopulate their pigs. There wasn’t anyone to
process them. Just four meatpacking companies in the U.S. control 80% of the beef market. Four
companies control most of the world’s seed.

Farmers share of each dollar spent on food continues to decline. Farm and ranch organizations are cheering for the Biden Executive Orders. Even Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau stepped up to support the President’s effort. The National Farmers Union is very excited. I say don’t get too excited. Executive Orders can be changed by the next President or by the Courts. Laws passed by Congress are much more durable. Controlling huge corporations with all their power will not be easy.

Another subject that we need to keep an eye on – Cuba. Wild street protests are shaking up that communist dictatorship. So far, President Biden has not indicated how he will react. It would be good if we had more trade with Cuba, but their government cannot be trusted.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

This and That

July 8, 2021

July 8, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –
The cost of living keeps going up. Food costs 5% more, but what about fuel? I was on the farm
in Illinois this past weekend. We rented a car in Chicago and had to pay well over $4 per gallon.
It’s not quite that expensive in Washington, DC. In the farm country, it cost $3.25 per gallon. It
is likely to keep going up. OPEC, made up of big oil-producing nations, in a surprise move just
decided not to increase production. Energy costs on our farms have already exploded. There is
more to come.

We had beautiful weather to celebrate the 4th of July on the farm. At this point, corn and soybeans look very good. We have all heard that corn should be knee-high by the 4th of July. Our corn stands taller than the top of my head. We saw a lot of family and friends. I feel so comfortable and safe back home in small-town rural America. Watch TV and read about the big cities with an explosive surge in crime. Violence spiked last weekend – the 4th of July. Look at Oakland, California. Homicides up by 90%. Carjackings by 88%. This happened after they cut their police budget by $18 million.

George Floyd was killed by police a little over 1 year ago – the rallying cry of left-wing
Democrats was “Defund the Police.” Thirteen big cities have cut their police budgets. Some
police officers fear for their lives if they attempt to apprehend suspects. We have cops deciding
to retire or quit. It is hard to attract new recruits. Fortunately, President Biden and some other
Democrats have concluded that cutting our police force is a bad idea. It’s a little late, but now we
have a chance to restore law and order.

Just a few notes about “climate change.” I read this in the Farm Journal. “Climate change isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s good for corn and soybean growers in the Midwest and Canada. More water and a longer growing season translate into more bushels of grain.” Over the last 50 years, rainfall has increased by 51/2 inches per year, and temperatures up only 1-degree Fahrenheit. Maybe we can live with this.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issues

July 1, 2021

July 1, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Last week on Thursday President Biden announced – “We have a deal.” I thought we would be
able to pass a $973 billion infrastructure bill to fix our roads, bridges, dams, and waterways. I
was shocked to learn on the weekend that the President said he would not sign without
Congressional approval of the $4 trillion family spending bill. This is crazy.

Let’s talk about something else. How about food? Retail prices are up but so is meat production. Pork production up 6.7%; Beef production up 7.5%; Chicken product up 4.8%. Total meat production up 5.5%. There is some good news for farmers and ranchers. In spite of all the excitement about plant-based meat substitutes – consumers still want real meat. They like the taste, protein, and it is natural. A recent survey shows less than 4% of shoppers buy plant-based meat while 2.4% buy chicken, 22% buy ground beef, 13% buy pork chops. The explosion in demand for fake meat may be losing some momentum.

Go west to California – That state wants to dictate to all the other states how we should raise our
hogs, our cattle, our chickens. If they want to dictate to their own citizens, okay. But to refuse to
accept imports from other states that may not fit the California production requirements is
outrageous. I thought we had free trade between states. There is an appeals court ruling coming
soon on this question. The American Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers are pushing
to shut the door on excessive California reach.

Biofuels are under constant attack from the oil industry. We are encouraging the EPA’s Michael Regan to limit the number of biofuel waivers. Iowa Senator Grassley says, “I’m counting on Regan for not liking fossil fuels like some previous administrations. That puts ethanol in a strong position.” Let’s hope Senator Grassley is right. I’m not so sure. I was on our Illinois farm last week. Crops look good. Fortunately, we were spared the wind and hail damage that some farms faced. A lot can happen between now and harvest.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Infrastructure v Taxes

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now today’s commentary.

Over the past several months, Washington has been consumed with negotiations over a new
infrastructure package. The White House proposed a $2.3 trillion package. Senate Republicans
countered with a package totaling about $1 trillion.

The difficulty of negotiating an infrastructure package reflects not just politics, but also major
policy differences. In a Congress which is the most evenly divided in our Nation’s history,
passing any legislation is a steep uphill climb. But more problematic are the deep policy
differences between how Democrats and Republicans define infrastructure and how they propose
to pay for it. Democrats are pushing for infrastructure to include not just roads, bridges, ports and
rural broadband—but also expansion of social programs under the guise of “human
infrastructure.” Republicans are focused on more traditional infrastructure.

But bigger differences exist when it comes to how you pay for infrastructure. The White House wants to raise corporate and capital gains taxes. Meanwhile, Republicans want to protect the Trump tax cuts of 2017 and are looking to use unspent COVID assistance funds as a principal pay for. There is also growing discussion of raising the federal gas tax by indexing it to inflation. The current 18.4 cent/gallon Federal excise tax hasn’t been raised since the fall of 1993. While raising the gas tax can be considered a user fee, it disproportionally impacts rural Americans who must travel greater distances for work, school and basic services.

However, of greater concern to agriculture and rural America is the proposal to tax the transfer
of farm assets to the next generation of family farmers. These proposals include eliminating the
stepped up basis, increasing capital gains taxes for family farms and eliminating 1031 land
exchanges.

Key Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committee have led the charge against the proposals, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and Representative Jim Costa, as well as House and Senate Agriculture Committee Lead Republicans GT Thompson and John Boozman. Texas A&M’s Agriculture and Food Policy Center recently completed an analysis of the estate tax proposals. The result: 92 of their 94 representative farms would be incurring an average increase in their tax liability of $1.43 million per farm.

Those of us in agriculture know the importance of re-investing in our basic
infrastructure—roads, bridges, ports and rural broadband. This is the backbone of our future
competitiveness. We also know Washington policy makers often talk about protecting family
farms and rural businesses. I can think of no greater assault on the preservation of family farms
and ranches than to significantly raise taxes on the transfer of farm assets to the next generation.
You can’t talk about protecting and promoting family farms and then support these ill-conceived
estate tax changes.

Again, this is Randy Russell sitting in for Jack Block in Washington.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to
www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington

Issue of the Day

June 16, 2021

June 16, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

It could change tomorrow, but at this moment nothing is getting done in this town. There are talks going on and ideas being evaluated. President Biden met with the Group of Seven in Europe and the NATO nations agreed to join together and challenge China’s behavior on trade, intellectual property, forced labor, and aggressive expansion. I’m not sure China will listen. Will they negotiate to lift all of the tariffs? China is the biggest customer for our ag products. If we alienate China enough, we might lose that market.

Another trade question that needs to be dealt with is TPA (Trade Promotion Authority). The U.S.
was part of that agreement until President Trump withdrew. I always considered that a mistake.
That agreement joined us with the Trans-Pacific Partnership to better compete with China. The
agreement eliminated tariffs on 18,000 American made products. Now China wants to join TPA.
We need to get back aboard.

U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai met with German trade leaders to get rid of tariffs imposed by both countries in our dispute over Boeing versus Airbus, which has been going on for years. Reports are that they have reached an agreement. Also, we have the heavy metal steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump put on Germany. Katherine Tai is highly respected, but she has a load on her shoulders. I almost forgot we are supposed to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK also.

On the home front, the ag industry wants our government to deal with the concentration of our
meatpacking industry. Cattle producers are not satisfied. The steak in the store costs a lot more,
but what about the price of the market animal? USDA will be working to put in place stricter
antitrust regulations. The Farm Bureau is worried that the EPA will give small refineries an
exemption relieving them of their obligation to blend in ethanol. That will hurt the corn market.
As you can see, there are a lot of problems to be dealt with, but will we get anything done? Don’t
bet the farm on it. Randy Russell will fill in for me next week.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.

John Block Reports from Washington