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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—

I am just back from 12 days in Northern Italy. My family and I bicycled down the valley with the Alps Mountains soaring on either side of us.
This was not our first organized bike ride in Europe. Our first was 10 years ago along the Mosel River in Germany; the next year, in Holland; then, Denmark and Austria and France and Belgium. Back to Germany 2 years ago, and this year in Italy.

This year, there were 17 riding in our group, peddling 20 to 40 miles per day – down the valley on bike paths next to flowing rivers, through corn fields, wheat fields, and orchards. We stopped in little towns, visited castles, museums, churches, and other historic sites.

This year’s ride started right on the Austrian border following the Adige River south with the majestic peaks of the Alps and Dolomites as our backdrop.

We visited a winery. The wine company was structured like our farmer coops. They had 400 farmers growing grapes for them – all small farms with less than 10 acres of grapes. And just like our coop, if they made money, a patronage dividend was paid to the growers. By the way – the wine was very good, sold mostly in Italy. We drank our share.

Next day, we peddled on down to Merano through beautifully well-cared for apple orchards. That evening, as we all came together for dinner, I ordered spaghetti with horse meat. Yes – spaghetti with horse meat. I did it to protest the selfish, misguided, wasteful steps taken by our own government to close down all of our horse processing plants. Good for the Europeans. They know better than to waste unwanted horses.

We rode to Bolzano the next day and to Trento the next, and finally ended at Riva de Garda at the top of beautiful Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy.

That’s where the biking ended and, from there, by bus to historic Venice where we spent 2 days sightseeing in that famous historic city.
Now we are back in the USA facing reality – draught in farm country and gridlock in Washington.

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 – it’s good to be home 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.