Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington August 27, 2021 “China, Food Stamps and Afghanistan”

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And now for today’s commentary –

China lost more than half of their pork production because of deadly African Swine Fever. Then, our pork exports to China exploded. But now they are getting the disease under control. Hog numbers are up, and they are buying record tons of our soybeans. China is our biggest market. As they bring back their pork production, they are modernizing their commercial operations. Twenty years ago, almost all producers were small – marketing less than 1,000 pigs. Those backyard farms will be gone. Mega farms are the future in China. They have only 9% of the world’s crop land and 20% of the world’s population. That means without any question China will continue to be a major food importer.

I opened today by bringing up China’s struggle with African Swine Fever. We need to guard against that deadly disease. It is not a threat to people, but our pigs need to worry. There are cases in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries not very far from our coast.

New subject – food stamps. The Biden Administration has announced a huge food stamp increase. A family of 4 can receive $835. Per month. That is a 27% increase over the pre-pandemic level. One objective is to make it possible for recipients to buy healthier food. But they probably won’t do that. I’m not against food stamps. Some families need that support. The school lunch program is very helpful. From a farmer – food producer point of view, we want to feed people. That is our market. We just don’t want to unnecessarily increase dependency.

Finally, the news is dominated by Afghanistan. Our effort is to bring our citizens home safely, and let’s not forget about our allies. There are 20,000 or more that are frantic to escape. Of course, we also want to rescue the Afghans that worked for us. They are not safe as the Taliban takes control of everything. We have left behind billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment – guns, armored vehicles, Afghan Black Hawk helicopters provided by the U.S., drones and sophisticated technology. The Taliban has all of this now. Our chaotic departure is a costly international disgrace.

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.