Former Ag Secretary John Block – “Wish List”
Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by 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 year in January, I announced my wish list for 2013. Today, let’s review that list and see how we did.
Wish Number 1: “Get a farm bill passed.” Well, we’re still wishing.
Wish Number 2: “Deal with our immigration problem. If we don’t, who’s going to butcher the hogs? Who’s going to pick the strawberries?” Nothing was done on that problem last year.
Wish Number 3: I said, “I want Congress to pass a budget. Cut spending and put our financial house in order.” O.K. We did end up with sequestration which cut spending and now we have a budget for this year. Although not perfect. That’s progress.
Wish Number 4: I said, “I hope the ag industry will come together and stand up against our critics. Animal rights groups and environmentalists are against modern agriculture.” We have begun to fight back. And that’s good.
Wish Number 5: I said, “the suggestion that we write a free trade agreement with Europe is a good idea.” O.K. – we have started working.
Wish Number 6: “Upgrade our locks and dams on our waterways.” Congress has started the process. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Wish Number 7: And finally, I said, “God help us to end this drought.” God has helped. We harvested a big corn crop and soy beans. Unfortunately, the West and Southwest still need more moisture.
As you can see, as urgent as my wish list was, we’re still coming up short. A farm bill, immigration legislation, and a regular order budget would be a good idea this year. A positive development is, we are working on two trade bills – one with Europe and one with Pacific countries. On the downside, Congress has not passed Trade Promotion Authority, which is the only way to clear the path for a free trade agreement. A lot of Democrats and Tea Party people oppose TPA.
My list this year is about the same as last year, since we didn’t get very much accomplished. I would add tax reform. Our tax system is full of loop holes and entirely too complicated.
Another good idea would be to put the brakes on government regulatory overreach. Government overregulation creates uncertainty and hurts our economy.
Another trade challenge – our corn dispute with China needs to be resolved. We need that market.
My last issue – Obama Care. Where are we going with this? I have no idea.
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.