Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington

“New Congress – Old Challenges”

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.

It took longer than it should to determine winners and losers in the midterm elections. Looks like Republicans will lead in the House and Democrats in the Senate. The first thing this new Congress must do is pass an extension of spending or our government will be shut down. Next year they need to write a new Farm Bill.

Sorry to say, but I don’t expect the new Congress to work together any better than the old one. President Biden will be pushing the issue of climate change. I have not spent much time talking about climate change on my radio program. I’m not convinced that we have any very good answers. However, our government plans to spend billions of dollars on “climate smart agriculture.” The Inflation Reduction Act passed last August authorized $19.5 billion to be spent on the ag industry. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says it is “the largest investment in conservation since the Dust Bowl.” Farmers will receive $95 million to encourage cover crops. I am a big supporter of conservation. But there are still questions. Yes, we have had some extreme weather. But what is causing it? Are greenhouse gas and carbon emissions to blame? The U.S. and other world leaders think so. They say we need to take drastic and costly actions. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens. 

Here is another subject that earned all kinds of interest and excitement just a couple of years ago – plant-based meat. The food industry was so excited about a new market. Tyson Foods, Smithfield, Hormel, and others jumped into the new meat basket. McDonalds gave it a try. The Stockholm Institute reported that the production of animal-based foods is responsible for 20% of total green house gas emissions. Companies like Beyond Meat saw their stock surge. Two years later now their stock has collapsed 80%. McDonalds gave up on plant-based meat. The global appetite for real meat has doubled since 1990. A lot of customers are not happy with the process of creating the new fake meat. Besides, it costs too much. And most of the public is not convinced it is healthier to eat. They still want high protein real meat. I look forward to pork loin for dinner tonight.

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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.