Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington

January 7, 2022

“NATO versus Putin”

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And now today’s commentary-

The United States and our European allies are being challenged again as they were eight years ago by Mr. Putin’s Russia. In 2014 we warned Vladimir Putin “don’t invade Ukraine or you will face painful economic consequence.” Putin went right ahead and took over the Crimean Peninsula. That’s part of Russia now. Last week President Biden warned Putin “don’t invade Ukraine.” Well let’s hope Putin doesn’t do what he did six years ago. The last thing that we need is a war with Russia.

In spite of the angry rhetoric, the NATO team of nations with the U.S. in the lead should be able to cut a deal with Putin. Putin does not want Ukraine to become a full member of NATO. He has some other requests on his wish list, but Ukraine is at the top. Why wouldn’t we agree to not bring Ukraine into NATO? I’m not convinced that NATO wants them anyway. European countries have good reason to foster positive relations with Russia.

Next subject. Can we fix the meat industry? The consolidation since 1980 has not been helpful to farmers and ranchers. The four largest meatpackers in 1980 had a 36% market share. The top four today control 85% of the market. It’s like many other industries, including tech companies, banks, steel companies, on and on. The federal government has not seemed to be interested in antitrust enforcement. We did get some legislation last year, the Packers and Stockyards Act to “safeguard farmers and ranchers.” Let’s hope it can help us.

President Biden just announced $1billion to help small meat processors. Meat prices at the store have gone through the roof and farmers are getting short-changed. We shall see.

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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.