Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington

January 17, 2022


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-

We are in the New Year and Congress is supposed to start work on the next Farm Bill. The current bill expires at the end of 2023. There is plenty of time to get it done, but it takes a lot longer than you would expect. Sometimes there are some big changes. When I was Secretary in 1985, we ended the annual set aside program and started the Conservation Reserve Program. That was a big deal.

The American Farm Bureau Federation convention is this week. AFBF President Zippy Duvall is pushing the Biden Administration to negotiate a Phase 2 trade deal with China and rejoin the Trans – Pacific Trade Agreement. Another strong positive statement made by AFBF President: “It is critical that this Administration understand that we should not need a team of lawyers and consultants just to farm our land.” He is exactly right. This Administration wants to rewrite the Waters of the U.S. rule to dictate to us how to farm. We have all kinds of challenges in agriculture. Farmers in the business of raising pigs have a lot to worry about. In presenting this threat I want to rely on Gary Baise (an attorney with Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC). Gary is a lawyer working full time trying to protect and help farmers and ranchers faced with over regulation and costly lawsuits. His article “Defending Agriculture – California’s New Pig Rule Will Wreak Havoc With Pork Producers” notes:

“California Proposition 12 took effect on Jan 1, 2022. The law says anyone who wants to sell pork to California’s consumers must abide by that state’s arbitrary, non-scientific livestock housing requirements, passed by California voters 4 years ago. California will send inspectors out to your farm to ensure your livestock buildings meet Proposition 12’s space requirements. Did you know that California residents consume 13% of our nation’s pork, but California farmers only produce 0.1% of that which is consumed?  The case has been taken to the Supreme Court but so far, no action. I thought we had free trade between states. If this is left to stand, can you imagine the number of states putting up similar barriers to protect their business? Think about how this California law will force many family farms out of the pork business. Only big corporations will be able to pay the price to rebuild their barns. Why should one single state be able to dictate if you can sell their citizens a pork chop?”

Good job Gary Baise. We need all the help we can get to protect our industry.

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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.