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Bob Lighthizer

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block

Will President Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh be approved? We may know by the time you hear this radio commentary. I think he will. It would be a sad outcome if he is rejected.

On another subject, recent meetings between Presidents of North Korea and South Korea and a future meeting scheduled with President Trump and Kim Jong-un are reasons for hope. A denuclearized Korean peninsula is the objective. We should not give up.

Can’t ignore trade – trade disputes have countries all over the world up in arms. Donald Trump is the driver of all this disruption. His front man in the driver’s seat is U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. On the plus side, a re-written U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement was signed by President Trump and South Korean President Moon this week.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “I am optimistic that the dominoes will continue to fall – KORUS, then a new NAFTA, and new agreements with the European Union, Japan, and then China.” I would add that I am optimistic and – the sooner the better.

One reason I am optimistic is that I have a bit of confidence in our U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer. I worked with him in the Reagan Administration. He served as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and led talks with Japan. We pushed Japan to open their market for our fruits – especially oranges. Lighthizer was there when we lifted the Soviet grain embargo in 1981. After it was lifted, we wrote a long-term grain agreement with the Soviet Union. In 1983, I went to Moscow with our Ag Team to sign that Agreement with the Soviet Trade Ambassador.

Lighthizer worked for Senator Bob Dole in the late 1970s as Chief of Staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. Nearly forty years later, Senator Dole introduced Lighthizer at his confirmation hearing.

Bill Brock, who served as President Reagan’s U.S. Trade Representative, says, “Bob Lighthizer is enormously talented.”

I don’t want to minimize the pain the ag industry and farmers are suffering now. But I wanted you to know more about the man in charge of our negotiations. We are all aware that China has been manipulating trade and stealing technology. If the unfair trade practices can be fixed, Bob Lighthizer is the man.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to

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