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Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

As you know, we win a few and lose a few.

After thousands of comments criticizing the Department of Labor’s proposed rule to disallow children under 16 years of age to work on farms, they withdrew the rule. If that rule had gone into effect, my grandchildren would not have been allowed to help sort hogs. They could not have shown a calf at the 4-H show. This is an election year. Could it be that the political price of such an unpopular regulatory overreach was not worth the price?
There is good news on the horse slaughter front. In 2006, animal rights advocates pushed the Congress to cut off funding for inspection of our horse slaughter plants. Without inspectors, the plants had to close. No place to go with unwanted horses. Some have been shipped to Mexico and Canada. Some are just turned loose on the range or the road. Common sense has reappeared and our government will fund the inspections.

Hopefully by the end of this year, we will be able to process and ship our horsemeat to France and Italy and wherever. You will be able to sell your horse for money now, and someone in another country can benefit from the meat.

on’t get your hopes up but the Senate Ag Committee did pass a farm bill. Direct payments are gone and a stronger risk management safety net is in. The House Ag Committee is getting ready to pass a bill also. After that, what’s going to happen? Not much. In this election year, I will be surprised if the full Senate and House even vote on their bills. Although we do have an indication of where farm policy is headed, it’s too soon to get very excited about a farm bill.

Now a word or two about “pink slime.” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad criticized ABC News and others. He said, “It’s a sad day when a false, misleading smear campaign can destroy a company.” I would add the smear campaign effectively is resulting in the wasting of lean, finely textured beef. The company processing the product (Beef Products, Inc.) has been forced to close down 3 of its 4 plants. 650 dedicated and good employees are now out of work. I hope the news organizations responsible for this are happy. It’s your fault, totally without justification. Lean, finely textured beef is safe, nutritious, and pure beef.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.