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John Block Report - Jan. 12, 2022

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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.

John Block Report - Jan. 5, 2022

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Duration:
01-07-2022

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-

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 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 Issues Oct. 21, 2021

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Duration:
10-21-2021
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.

John Block: Trade Equality

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Duration:
03-11-2021

We all know or should know that we’re going to have a $1.9 trillion relief package.   It does target the needy, the hungry, and unemployed.  But there are billions and billions for others to buy political support.

 Enough on that subject.  There are other developments that can make a difference.  Let’s talk trade.  There has been a long-standing dispute with the European Union over subsidies of Airbus and Boeing.  The US and EU have agreed to have a 4-month tariff suspension.  Hopefully, we can find a resolution.  President Trump was convinced that the EU subsidies on Boeing put our country at a serious disadvantage.  It turned into a tariff war - $7.5 billion tariff on European wine.   Europe put a $4.5 billion tariff on US whiskey.  The battle escalated when President Trump increased and expanded his tariffs to 25% on all wine imports from France and Germany.  It is time to negotiate this dispute and put it behind us.  I have some friends that want a resolution.   They want French wine.

 The Distilled Spirits Council is reminding us that “Lifting the tariff burden will support the recovery of restaurants, bars, and small craft distilleries across the country that were forced to shut down during the pandemic.”  That could just settle one dispute.  President Trump imposed levies on imported steel and aluminum from the EU.  Europe retaliation shut the door on our whiskey exports and more.  I am still hopeful that we can iron out some of these trade conflicts to our advantage.

 Another hopeful development is that the US and the UK are beginning to lift some tariffs.   Our bars will be happy to see the tariff on scotch whiskey eliminated.  Since we are talking trade, it is time to negotiate with Cuba.  They can be a good market for our ag products.   They are only 90 miles from our shore.   Over the years I have been to Cuba 3 times working to expand trade.

 Just when I think we can make some progress, something happens to poison the deal.   Well, it’s time to try again.  As we try to review and resolve our trade disputes, I don’t think it is wise to just walk away from all tariffs and give up.   President Trump was strong in demanding fair trade.  Let’s negotiate good deals that are fair.  President Biden realized that the phase one deal with China resulted in a $27 billion market for ag products last year which happen to be a record level of exports to that country.  There is a lot more to do.

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