21st Century Challenges

By John Block
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

U.S. agriculture exports in the first 6 months of this fiscal year have exploded to a new record - 75 billion dollars. That's a 27% increase over last year. Now that's something to get excited about. Congratulations to American agriculture! In spite of weather problems, volatile markets, and government agencies, both state and federal, trying to tell us how to farm - we are getting the job done. 

Some state governments are demanding that we get the chickens out of the cages. Let them run around pecking in the dirt. Get the sows out of the crates. The “sustainable” agriculture fanatics are demanding all kinds of things. 

Together we can feed the Bees

Get this. I just received a request from an elevator where I market some of my grain. I am asked to sign a paper which declares that my corn is “sustainably produced.” “Sustainably produced” - what does that mean? Why am I asked such a question? I am asked to certify that on our farm we didn't clear any rain forests, any wetlands to farm the ground. 

All of this intrusive nonsense is requested because some of this grain might be processed into ethanol and exported to Europe. The Europeans are requiring a “sustainable guarantee.” 

I do qualify. I can sign this paper. However, I am offended by this request. What if I tiled out a wet spot in one of my fields? What if I bulldozed some trees to add a few crop acres? Are these land improvements considered unsustainable? 

Another example of the busy bodies that think they know how to farm - listen to this. A National Research Council report entitled “Toward Sustainable Agriculture Systems in the 21st Century” has this to say:

“It's become apparent that as modern agriculture grapples with important issues such as climate change, biodiversity, resource conservation and public health problems, a transformative approach is needed. The field of agro-ecology adapts the principle of nature to farming systems.” 

What are they talking about? We produce the most affordable food in the world right here in the USA. And we are still able to export 30% of our production which reduces our trade deficit. 

It looks like we're doing quite a few things right. 

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to http://www.johnblockreports.com/

About the author: Senior Policy Advisor in the law firm of Olsson, Frank, and Weeda, John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food, and health. His accomplishments in agriculture began with the building of a large and successful hog operation in his home state of Illinois where he also served as the Director of Agriculture from 1977-1981. He was tapped by President Reagan to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981to 1985 where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of Food Distributors International (formerly the National American Wholesale Grocers Association) from 1986 to January 2003.

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