Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country.

And now for today’s commentary—

The Presidential campaign is in the headlines every day. And the number one priority is to create jobs. Well, if we are serious, there is one thing the Congress can do that will be a big help.

They need to pass legislation to repeal the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Most people have never heard of the Jackson-Vanik. It is a relic of the Cold War with the Soviet Union passed in 1974. It is still on the books to punish the Soviet Union by restricting trade relations.

This summer, the Soviet Union will be admitted into the World Trade Organization. It’s a done deal. We could see our 10 billion dollars in export to Russia double to 20 billion dollars in five years. Agriculture will get our share of that expansion. However, if we don’t get rid of Jackson-Vanik, Russia will likely not lower their tariffs for our goods. They won’t be required to by WTO rules as long as Jackson-Vanik is there. We will be at a major disadvantage compared to other countries.

Over the years, we have waived the Jackson-Vanik legislation. That won’t work anymore. I even ran into that legislation when I negotiated and signed a long-term grain agreement with the Soviet Union in 1984. We found a way around it, but it wasn’t easy.
The Cold War is over, and Russia wants Jackson-Vanik off the books. China has been a member of the WTO for years. Now, Russia will come aboard. But will we be an equal trading partner or not?

With political fights going on in this town, I wonder if the Congress will call a truce long enough to do something that can mean thousands of jobs. I thought jobs were a priority.

As the Vice President of Amway said, “If we don’t get this done, we will stick out like a sore thumb. All it does is hurt American companies.”
I ask you to tell your Congressman to get it done.

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.