Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington


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-

When you hear this radio show, I will be on my farm in Illinois. I am hoping that we can get started planting corn. However, we have had so much rain this last week. Planting is unlikely.

 I want to talk about pigs. Pork farmers throughout the U.S. were shocked in 2018 when California voters passed Proposition 12. It dictates to California pork producers how to produce their pork.

The pen size requirements for sows and how they are cared for will cost farmers millions of dollars. That California law will create huge supply shortages of pork because other states supply most of pork eaten in California. For other states to sell in California they will be required to meet the standards of the California law.

That law passed in 2018 has been tied up in the courts and is finally scheduled to go to the Supreme Court. The U.S. pork industry is hoping that this outrageous law will be struck down. Nowhere does the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution allow a state to restrain trade between states unless there is a health or safety problem. The critics that want to dictate to farmers how to care for our pigs don’t know very much about farming. They also are dictating to chicken farmers. The law requires that chickens must be cage free. It is hard to imagine the trade restrictions states could place on other states if Proposition 12 is allowed to stand.

It won’t be just pork or chickens. It could be anything that could close the door on our traditional free trade between states. Let’s hope the Supreme Court can fix this. The National Pork Producers Council were in DC last week. They have other concerns. Under President Obama the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement was written, but when President Trump came into office, he pulled the U.S. out of the deal. That move has been very costly to our pork industry. The countries that are in the (TPP) have a big tariff advantage over us because we are not a member. President Biden needs to get our TPP membership back. The National Pork Producers Council says membership could be “the biggest commercial opportunity even for U.S. Pork Producers.”

Exciting news – the EPA will lift the summer restriction on the sale of E15 fuel. More on that next week.

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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.