Balanced Reporting. Trusted Insights. Sunday, August 14, 2022

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John Block Recent Elections

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Duration:
11-12-2021
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.

John Block - Feb. 16, 2022

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Duration: 3:00
02-16-2022

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 of 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 - Feb. 2, 2022

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Duration:
02-07-2022

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 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 - Jan. 26, 2022

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Duration:
01-28-2022

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.

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 - Jan. 19, 2022

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Duration: 4:00
01-24-2022

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-

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 Report - Jan. 12, 2022

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Duration: 4:00
01-14-2022

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-

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.