By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.
Farmers and the whole agriculture industry fought through 2019, a very brutal year. Exports, prices, trade war and weather took a costly toll.
Now we need to turn the page and look at 2020. Last weekend President Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau Convention. He told us “the best days for American Farmers are yet to come.” “China respects me now. They have committed to buy $80 billion of U.S. ag products in the next 2 years.” That would be an enormous change. Sales to China in 2018 totaled $9 billion. That was a 50% drop from 2017. Secretary Perdue has promised our farmers that USDA will enforce China’s pledge to buy the $80 billion of our products. He said, “now let’s grow stuff, let’s produce and let’s sell it.”
Farmers and ranchers at the Farm Bureau Convention were hoping the President would announce his changes to the Obama regulations known as Waters of the U.S. Getting rid of that rule was one of President Trump’s promises when he ran for election. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall described that Obama rule as “the largest federal land grab of our farms and our lands and taking our private property rights in the history of our country.” Farmers can’t wait for President Trump to “ditch the rule.”
President Trump is already in the process of changing the school lunch rules. He will give local school districts more freedom and flexibility in deciding the food available for school lunches and summer meals. The President has been working to cut all kinds of regulations.
Turn to the Congress. It sounds like they are spending all their time trying to impeach the President. However, they did pass a bipartisan bill in the House to modernize the H-2A Guest Worker Program. That bill has the strong backing of the American Farm Bureau. The bill would help provide needed farm labor to pick the strawberries and milk the cows. It would give those workers legal status. The bill passed the House, but it’s future in the Senate is in doubt.
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, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.