By former USDA Secretary John R. Block
Next week, I am going to China. Last November, I was asked by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters to lead a team of farm broadcasters and ag leaders to visit China. At that time, we all knew how important China is to our industry. We knew then that there was some risk of a trade conflict with China, our number one customer. However, we had no idea that it would escalate to the level we face today. Of course, our team can’t fix it, but we will be able to get an up-close understanding of the situation.
We fly to Shanghai next Thursday. Then, we take the bullet train to Beijing. In Beijing, we will go to the U.S. Embassy where we will meet with U.S. officials, including Ambassador Terry Branstad. The next meeting is with Chinese agricultural representatives. Of course, we will walk on the Great Wall. We will then go to three other cities and visit farms. Then, off to Hong Kong for two days, and back to the U.S. on July 4.
With all of the concern about trade wars and our relations with China, I think our farm broadcasters will have a lot to talk about. It should be an exciting adventure, and I am honored that Tom Brand, President of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, asked me to take the lead.
Now that I have given you a heads up about our China trip, next door we have North Korea. President Trump did have what appears to have been a very successful summit meeting with Kim Jong-un. The President’s critics warned that our President was not prepared for such an important meeting. You can’t trust Kim Jong-un. His father and grandfather both did not live up to their agreements. They went back to work on nuclear weapons. I think we have learned that any new agreement will have to be verified. President Trump is not going to let them cheat on a deal. Kim is a new leader and this is a new day. “Complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” would be historic.
Kim Jong-un has seen prosperous developed countries. But his country is a “basket case” with hunger and starvation. I think he wants a positive future for his people and nuclear weapons will not get him there.
This whole process could blow up tomorrow, but I don’t think it will.
John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill. If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, visit johnblockreports.com.