By John Block

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

For more than 20 years, I have put together a “Cabinet Secretaries Luncheon” during the Christmas holidays. Lunch is at the Blair House, just across the street from the White House. This year, we had 42 Cabinet Members from Administrations going back as far as President Jimmy Carter. We had five Secretaries of Agriculture.

Besides a nice holiday lunch, I always ask each Cabinet Member to make a prediction. Some are serious. Some are just funny. Here are some of the predictions.

Alice Rivlin (Democrat; served on President Obama's Debt Commission). I complimented her for her work on that Commission which recommended bold, courageous action to reduce our debt. Here is what she said: “The Republicans and Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House will get along a lot better than you think. There is no choice. They'll act like grown-ups.” Oh, let's hope so.

Gale Norton: “The price of oil will go over $100 per barrel and the price of gold will continue to rise until I buy some.”

Clayton Yeutter: “We're well on our way to a U.S.-Japan free trade deal.”

Mike Johanns (former Agriculture Secretary and now a Senator): “A Republican dark horse will win the Iowa caucus next year.”

John Sununu: He didn't exactly agree with Mike Johanns: “New Hampshire picks presidents. Iowa picks corn.”

Dan Glickman (Bill Clinton's Agriculture Secretary): “The next big citizen's movement will attack the surge of dollars in politics that distort decisions.”

That's just a few of the many predictions.

Now, here are some that I have to offer as we move into this new year.

  • After all of this time, we will get a U.S.-South Korea trade agreement passed.

  • The farm bill will be written next year – not this year. However, when the deal is cut to increase the debt limit, agriculture will be on the chopping block. Direct payments are a target.

  • Secretary Ray LaHood and the Department of Transportation will fix our trucking-trade dispute with Mexico. We have failed to live by the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement, costing us millions of dollars in pork exports as just one example.

  • We may have snow and cold in the country, but the grain markets are hot. Pressure will grow to release some of the Conservation Reserve program acres for crops as a “relief valve” in the food vs. fuel competition.

I was on the farm this week. Really cold, but pigs are happy, seed is on order, fertilizer plan is in place, planter ready – spring is just around the corner. Can't wait.

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. To check on what I said back then, click HERE.

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-January 2003.

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