Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country.

And now for today’s commentary—

Last week, I was flying from Chicago to Moline, Illinois – heading back to the farm.

A gorgeous day with sun and blue sky; flying over hundreds and thousands of acres of rich, productive black land. It was a beautiful sight. It can only be more beautiful when it is green with growing crop. That’s not too far off. In less than 60 days, the planters will be rolling.

I have been coming back to the family farm regularly (almost once a month) for more than 30 years, since President Ronald Reagan called me to work for him. My roots are still in that black dirt.

Every year, we plan carefully to get everything just right to give us the best chance of raising a big crop. Three years ago, it rained all fall. We didn’t finish corn harvest until Christmas. The last two years, the heavy rains early after planting and severe heat at pollination hurt our corn yield. Fortunately, our soy beans were excellent. Explain that. I can’t.

The point I am making is that farmers across the land work to do every thing just right. Precision farming – the best seed, correct level of fertilizer based on soil tests, crop protection chemicals to control the pests and kill the weeds.

We think and plan long and hard to ensure perfection. But, unfortunately, one of the most critical concerns that we have – we can’t control – the weather. Just ask the farmers and ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma. Or ask the farmers in Argentina and Brazil as they suffer through a Southern Hemisphere draught right now.

We can’t control the price either. Even after doing every thing right. A draught can ruin a crop, and a price collapse can steal your profit.
I don’t know of another business with more uncertainty, with critical variables that can’t be controlled. And yet, I love this business. Just meeting the challenges, watching the crops grow strong and tall from a tiny seed. How satisfying is that?

Before long, our planting season will begin. Yes, there is risk but we’re optimistic. We’ll put that little seed in the ground and then the crop will be in God’s hands.

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.