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-

With all the concern about climate change, countries around the world are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions. We have been told for years that ethanol blended fuel will burn cleaner and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Here is what Geoff Cooper, President of the Renewable Fuels Association had to say: “Ethanol offers a significant and immediate carbon savings.”

However, out of the blue the critics of the ethanol industry are on the attack. They argue that the EPA requirements that ethanol plants use certain emission controls are not being followed. They say that EPA has been willing to provide processing exemptions to many of the older plants. They argue the ethanol industry is not required to follow the 2007 law. There could be a real fight brewing between ethanol critics, including the oil industry, and ethanol and farm leaders. We need clean fuel and I think the ag industry will deliver.

Here is another clean air issue. There is a lot of concern in the U.S. livestock industry about the possibility the EPA could require emission permits related to livestock. Farm leaders support Senator John Thune (R-SD). He wants to pass legislation to stop the EPA from trying to tell us how to farm. I remember the good old days when President Ronald Reagan worked to cut government regulations. The EPA argues “the US simply cannot achieve its climate change mitigation goals without addressing agriculture.” O.K. But, maybe they should put a priority on the need to produce enough food to feed a hungry world.

Agriculture has another challenge that I had not even thought about. By this weekend there is serious risk of a huge strike of labor unions that work for our railroads. The unions that represent thousands of employees will not be there to transport our grain at harvest (and harvest is upon us). We need an agreement. President Biden appointed a bipartisan group to negotiate a resolution to the problem. Some of the big unions won’t accept the agreement. Unless this is resolved by this weekend, then Congress could intervene and block the work stoppage. But will they? We don’t know at this moment where we go from here. Stay tuned. To everyone on the farms – this is harvest. Don’t take chances. Farming is a dangerous business.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to

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