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—

So, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, went on food stamps for a week. Big deal! He has been on TV and interviewed by countless newspapers. Well, just for the record, I went on food stamps myself for a week 30 years ago. I wasn’t planning to run for Governor of Illinois. Mayor Booker has his eye on a race for New Jersey Governor against Governor Chris Christie in the next election.

The situation 30 years ago was that President Reagan had been repeatedly attacked for not caring about the poor, not spending enough money on them. I wanted to see if the food stamp allotment was sufficient. After all, I was Secretary of Agriculture and responsible for administering the program.

So, I went to the supermarket with the correct amount of money to purchase my weekly food stamp allotment. I bought eggs, milk, peas, carrots, hot dogs, bread, and I can’t remember what else. For a week, I ate my food stamp diet. Nothing more. I weighed myself when the week started. I weighed myself when the week was over – 156 pounds, no change. The next day was a 3-mile run in Washington, D.C. I ran the race and then conducted a pre-scheduled press conference. The Washington press couldn’t wait to jump on me.

All I told them was that “I feel fine. I didn’t lose any weight. Food stamps are quite adequate. They aren’t supposed to provide a gourmet feast. In most cases, they serve as a supplement to other sources of food. Keep in mind children have school lunch. Some also have school breakfast.”
The press really didn’t like my evaluation of the Food Stamp Program. “One week is not a fair test,” they said. Needless to say, the press conference was not a “love fest.”

Cory Booker’s food stamp week caught my eye, and I just wanted to let you know that he was not the first to try out the program. I’m sure I wasn’t either.

Have a Merry Christmas. Next week, I’m going to talk about Christmas on the farm when I was a boy.

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.