Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
 

And now for today’s commentary—
 

Today, I want to look back at 2012 for some positive things that were done. Then, I will give you my wish list for 2013.
 

2012
 

1. Russia joined the World Trade Organization last August. For us to take full advantage of trade opportunities with Russia, we needed to repeal the old cold war Jackson-Vanik Amendment. We did it. Some of our language in the repeal hits Russia for discrimination. They have retaliated by closing the door on adoptions. We can’t win for losing.
 

2. As the clock ticked down on 2012, we extended the farm bill for the rest of this fiscal year. That was good.
 

3. Another plus – the Bush tax cuts, which were set to expire at the end of 2012, were extended for most taxpayers except the richest 1%. I found it ironic that the Democrats wanted them extended. Do you remember how they fought them when Bush proposed them in 2001?
 

4. The biggest plus coming out of last year was the permanent legislation to protect the 5 million dollar exemption in the estate tax. And, it will be indexed for inflation. They did push the tax level up from 35% to 40%, but we can accept that. This is a huge victory for family farms and businesses.
 

5. Finally, we know the drought took a heavy toll in 2012, but we did have good prices and record exports. Now, let’s consider a wish list for 2013.
 

2013
 

1. Let’s get a farm bill written and passed in a timely fashion.
 

2. Hopefully, this will be the year to deal with our immigration problem. I’m talking about comprehensive legislation. Visas for seasonal workers are fine, but we need to fix the whole problem. We need certainty. Who’s going to butcher the hogs? Who’s going to pick the strawberries?
 

3. I want the Congress to pass a budget which cuts spending and puts our financial house in order. My farm couldn’t operate the way our federal government operates.
 

4. I would hope the ag industry could come together and stand up against our critics. The animal rights groups and those against modern farming are relentless. Our own circular firing squad is suicide. We have a very positive message and we need to get it out.
 

5. The Obama administration is considering working with the European Union on a free trade agreement. That’s what I like to hear.
 

6. Let’s try to find some money to upgrade the locks and dams on the Mississippi River.
 

7. Finally – God help us to end this drought.
 

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.
 

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington


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