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—

We have an organization called the Agribusiness Club that meets monthly for lunch. This year, I am serving as Chairman of the group. I invited Kansas Senator Pat Roberts to speak to us this week.

Senator Roberts has been a strong and respected voice for agriculture for 30 years. When he speaks, we listen.

Here is what he told us. On the farm bill, he said the Senate is ready to get it done. He said, “It won’t be any easier if it is delayed and handed off to a new Congress next year.” I would like to see it done, but the House needs to pass their version and then the two have to be conferenced and then signed by the President. I think the short time between now and the end of the year will be taken up trying to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” Senator Roberts said that he did not expect us to go over the cliff triggering a big tax increase and government spending cuts. He also emphasized the urgency of dealing with the immigration question. I agree.

He told us that we should brace ourselves for a flood of new costly regulations that the Obama Administration has been holding back until after the election. He mentioned in passing a proposed regulation on cinnamon buns – no frosting allowed. That’s ridiculous.

Anyway, that reminds me of an interesting subject that I read about in the Wall Street Journal. Denmark has been concerned about their rising obesity rate and their relatively low life expectancy. So, one year ago, they imposed a “fat tax” on any food containing more than 2.3% saturated fat. Last week, the Danish Minister of Agriculture announced the decision to dump the tax. He said, “now we have to try and improve the public health by other means.” The tax (about 9%) raised the cost of products like butter, cheese, oil, cream, etc.

Consumers didn’t like it. They already have one of the highest tax burdens in Europe. Many Danes would jump in their cars and drive across the border to the first German supermarket they could find where they could get what they wanted for much less money. The parking lot of a Sky Market in Northern Germany had more Danish cars than German cars in their lot.

Oh, by the way, the Danes had planned to impose a sugar tax this year. They dropped that idea also. Maybe we can learn something from the Danish experiment.

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 from 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.