Former Ag Secretary John Block –
Hello everybody out there in farm country.
And now for today’s commentary—
In the past week, there has been a lot going on. At the top of the list – Ag Day. We celebrated the remarkable contribution American agriculture makes to this country and the world. A beautiful dinner was held in the Atrium at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack spoke. I felt very much at home there myself with a room full of agriculture friends, including John Deere, Monsanto, Future Farmers of America, Jaycee Outstanding Young Farmers, cattlemen, pork producers, on and on. Speaking of pork – a big, thick pork chop was our entrée.
We have a lot to celebrate – a lot to be proud of. Just one farmer in this country produces enough food to feed 155 people. We’re doing it with less crop acres today than 40 years ago. That’s precision farming. Besides feeding all these people, 10% of our gasoline comes from farms.
With a booming farm economy and record exports, everyone was in a party mood. Yes, we have some disagreements within the farm family, but we know we must stand together. Ag Day is an opportunity to get our message out to the public, and counter the critics that want to distort the facts.
Another big event that depends on farmers and food was the School Nutrition Association meeting with more than 400 attendees. Secretary Dan Glickman, Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner, and I participated in a panel discussion moderated by Sara Wyant of AgriPulse. Once again, we put a lot of issues on the table.
For many children, the school lunch programs are the foundation of child nutrition. It was noted that in this country we have the most abundant, safest, and most reasonably priced food in the world. Our families spend less than 10% of their income on food. No other country in the world can match us. At that school lunch event, we got into a discussion about whether the government should be telling children, or even grown-ups, what to eat and what not to eat to fight obesity. We didn’t settle that question.
In closing, since we are in a celebratory mood, let me point out that 150 years ago, President Lincoln created the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We’re going to celebrate President Lincoln’s vision and his creation of the Department all year long.
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 www.johnblockreports.com.
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.