Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country.

And now for today’s commentary—

The Chinese Vice President will arrive in the U.S. next week. You might ask – so what? Well, there is more to this story.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is destined to become China’s next leader later this year. He will meet with President Obama February 1) to discuss U.S.-Chinese relations. But that’s not the most important meeting. He will fly to Muscatine, Iowa the next day, and there, he will reconnect with a number of Iowa individuals and families that he met 27 years ago.

27 years ago, Mr. Xi was a leader in a pig farming operation in China. He led an animal-feed delegation to Iowa, touring farms, speaking at the Muscatine Rotary Club. He stayed two nights as the guest of a local family, sleeping in their sons’ bedroom. The boys were off to college. That country hospitality reached out and established a bond with the next leader of China.

We need to give credit to Mr. Xi for making the effort to reestablish his old relationship with those that had welcomed him 27 years ago on his first visit to another country outside of China.

Mr. Xi, over those 27 years, has worked his way up in the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party and is now positioned to take over the leadership.

Will his memorable experience in visiting the Heartland U.S.A. make it easier for the U.S. to work with China? The fact that he knows pigs is bound to help.

An interesting side bar is that in 1978, I led an Illinois agriculture delegation to China and we visited farms. I will never forget that trip and the warm hospitality they extended to us. These kinds of exchanges can have a lasting effect on strengthening understanding and building enduring friendships.

Hopefully, the U.S. and China can look forward to more cooperation and better relations in the future. After all, both countries have North Korea to worry about. And a positive trading relationship is vital.

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.