Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country.

And now for today’s commentary—

Jack Block is on holiday this week. This is Rick Frank sitting in. Remember, I’m Jack’s moderate Democrat colleague. We support the same priorities – a healthy and prosperous agricultural sector.

With the Presidential election beginning to heat up, I thought I would lay out the case for why President Barack Obama should be reelected. Here’s my take – both the reasons to vote for President Obama and the reasons for concern.

First and foremost, the farm economy is booming. Farm exports are at an all-time high and the agricultural food and energy sectors are finally starting to coexist. Nearly 1 in 12 jobs in America is food- or ag-related. President Obama deserves some credit for these positive developments if for no other reason than he and Secretary Vilsack have kept out of the way and allowed markets to operate freely. The Administration also supported new free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and has been a champion of technological innovation including biotech crops.

In his first year in office, President Obama made a series of promises. He promised to get out of Iraq and we have. He announced a surge of troops in Afghanistan, along with a timetable for getting out. We are proceeding steadfastly in that direction. He promised greater cooperation with our allies so that the U.S. is no longer the go-it-alone superpower. That strategy, best illustrated through our approach to the Middle East – Libya, Iran, and Syria – is working and spreading the burden of blood and treasure to others.

With regard to the economy, no one disputes that President Obama inherited a disaster. While many did not like the 800 billion dollar stimulus plan, it did stabilize the economy and, ultimately, employment. Unemployment is now down to 8.5%, still too high, and inflation remains at one of the lowest levels ever.

President Obama will get my vote, but not without some reservations. Our 15 trillion dollar debt is unacceptable and the President needs to show more leadership in addressing that problem. He should have endorsed the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan which called for shared sacrifice – 2/3 in budget cuts and 1/3 in tax hikes. Mr. President – submit that plan to Congress and force a vote.One scary thought…if reelected, President Obama will likely move further to the left and pursue the liberal, class warfare, agenda that has been held in check by the Republican House. His rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline already signals such a move. His reelection likely means more regulation, particularly out of the EPA.

All in all, things seem to be getting better, both in foreign affairs and the economy, albeit slowly. I urge you to think long and hard before you reflexively pull that Republican lever.

In closing, I would encourage you to access John Block’s website which archives his radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what he said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am Rick Frank sitting in for 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.