By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.
Last week was really busy. Three days at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Convention in Kansas City. If you listen to farm radio, your broadcaster was probably there. I’ve been going for almost 40 years.
After Kansas City, I went to our farm. Harvest is all in the bin. After a whole year of work, and thousands of dollars spent, watching that golden corn streaming in is so exciting.
The day harvest is done, we have to go to work on next year’s crop. Be assured we have soil tests on our fields. The tests will tell us how much phosphate or potash must be applied. Does the field need lime? We all know that we have to eat the right food to be healthy. It is the same with crops. Feed the crop the right diet to make it produce a big yield. It is the same with our pigs. If you are going to “bring home the bacon,” feed them right.
Most of the people in our country live in the city – so far removed from the farm. We need better communication back and forth. We’re seeing that division in politics today.
Besides the corn and soybeans that we raise, we have baby pigs born every day. It’s cold out in Illinois. As for the mother sows, when they get close to the farrowing they must be brought into the barn which is heated. We want the mothers to be comfortable and their babies safe. We have all of these farm experts that think they know everything. The animal rights organizations are telling us how to care for our animals – pigs, cows, chickens, everything. What do they know? Not much. Farmers and ranchers have a powerful incentive to provide the best of care. Animals that are not healthy and happy will not gain weight and thrive as they should. Bad farmers lose money. We need to make money to stay in business. It’s as simple as that.
I wanted to say a little bit about the scorching fires burning down more than 200,000 acres in California and killing more than 40 people. We don’t know how many more will be found burned to death. We wouldn’t have to accept such devastation if we had better forest management. We need to manage our forests better. Over the years, especially in California, environmental groups have pushed through all kinds of restrictive laws.
Trees die from drought. They are not removed. They dry and are ideal for firewood. We could thin the forests if lumber companies were allowed to harvest the lumber. But NO – that might be bad for endangered species.
Hopefully, these deadly fires will revive some common sense forest management.
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 www.johnblockreports.com.