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—

I don’t ever remember a time when we had such a back log of work and difficult decisions staring us in the face. Every time the federal government spends $1 we have to borrow 40 cents of that dollar. We don’t have the money, and with high unemployment and a weak economy, we’re not going to have the tax money coming in to close the gap. Now we’re getting the word that because of the weak economy, the Congress will be asked to vote to raise the debt ceiling even sooner than expected. That will be after the November elections, but the debate and battle over what must be cut will be in full swing as the elections approach.

After the election, before the end of the year, there will be a “lame duck” session of the U.S. Congress. They will be expected to get everything done that has been piling up over the last year.

The Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of the year if the Congress doesn’t do something. President Obama wants to keep the cuts in place except for those making more than $250,000 per year. Republicans say leave the Bush cuts as they are because raising taxes would hurt our fragile economy. From the farmer and small business perspective, we don’t know what will happen with the death tax. If the Bush tax cuts expire, the death tax will spike back up to 5 times higher than it is today. If that is going to happen, for the good of our children, we should die before the end of the year.

I haven’t even mentioned the farm bill. Give credit to the Senate for their progress, but the House still must pass a bill and then the 2 bills, which will not be the same, will have to be reconciled. With all the other work to be done, I don’t expect the new farm bill to be completed until some time next year. The old one will probably be extended for a few months.

One last thing that I forgot – we don’t even have a budget for next year. The House passed one, but the Senate didn’t. Should we be surprised? The Senate has not passed a budget in 3 years. Do you know why they haven’t? They are afraid to take any tough votes.

Hopefully, this election will send a message that we expect our elected officials to have more courage than that.

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.