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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—

Last week, I was on the farm in Illinois. I was greeted with 5 days of snow with accumulation of about 7 inches. In ordinary times, I would not have liked the wind and snow, but not this year, after last year’s drought. Replenishing our soil moisture is essential for this year’s crop. Hard to believe, but we could be planting corn in less than 6 weeks.

One exciting welcome event was that the day I arrived, we had 7 litters of baby pigs. How is that for timing? We normally could expect about 1 litter per day.

Those mother sows really wanted to impress me. If I were to sum everything up, I would say that we are ready for spring. Our machinery has been gone over to make ready to hit the field. There is a level of optimism and excitement in the air as we look out across those snow-covered fields soon to be sprouting with corn and soybeans.

On Thursday last week, the day that the sequester was scheduled to set in, I spoke to the Galesburg Rotary Club. It was a crowd of some 80 people, many friends and people that I know. My message was summed up in the front page story in the Galesburg Register Mail the next day. The headlines read: “Block says, ‘let the axe fall.’”

That was the sum of my message. I simply think that our debt is serious. We can’t keep borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. We know that cutting back will be somewhat painful, but we have no choice. Keep in mind that the reduction in spending is not a cut from past spending, but a small 2% reduction in the projected growth in spending. It would be helpful if the Congress would pass legislation to give the departments a little more flexibility in where to save the money.

Keep in mind the sequester cuts do nothing to address the runaway cost of entitlements – Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The escalating cost of those programs is unsustainable. Our children and grandchildren will not have any support if reforms are not made.
Just look at Europe. Socialist entitlement programs represent a crushing debt. We’re not far behind. I like to think that we still have time to turn around.

That will require courage and leadership from Washington.

That’s where I am now.

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 and still hoping 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.