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China and More

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

I have, on more than one occasion, talked about President Trump and EPA in their effort to restrain President Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule.  That rule was written to restrict farmers and ranchers from tiling wetlands and managing our private property.  Last Friday, we got a court ruling giving EPA’s new rule the green light.  Maybe the federal government will leave us alone and let us manage our business now.

Another important court ruling blocked a liberal effort to stop farmers from using dicamba weed killers during this planting season.  This is not the time to change the rules when farmers are in the field.

China. China – that is all we hear.  Here is some interesting news.  China has risen to be our biggest trading partner.  U.S./China trade rose almost $40 billion in April, moving China ahead of Mexico and Canada.  Do not be overly impressed.  The numbers are below a year ago.  Last week U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer testified before the House Ways and Means Committee.  He reported that “China will fully comply with their promise to buy U.S. ag products.”  If they “fully comply,” that will be a big deal.

I do not think we have heard enough about how the Coronavirus has disrupted trade. 90% of world trade is carried by 50,000 ships.  We saw how the virus closed down a number of our livestock processing plants. Let’s keep those merchant ships on the waves. We need the markets.  The U.S. relationship with China is not a positive one today.  It is very complicated.  We have the tariff war, Coronavirus, and of course, the competition for global power and influence.  We don’t need a cold war.  We need to negotiate and arrive at a reasonable solution.

My last subject is another federal government land grab.  We have a new piece of legislation called the Great American Outdoor Act.  If it becomes law, the government would be required to spend $900 million each year to fund federal land purchases.  The federal government already has too much land.  The government owns 30% of the land in the U.S.  That is my opinion.

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 online to

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