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By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

It seems like overnight we went from a booming economy to shutting everything down.  Schools are closed, businesses are working online to avoid contact.  “Social distancing” is the new way to live.  In some states they are even closing restaurants and bars.  And what ever happened to “March Madness?” Sporting events are cancelled.  Stock markets and commodities take a dive.  All of this happened because of a global health crisis – the coronavirus pandemic.

China has been hit the hardest.  Europe not far behind.  Here in the U.S. we are taking drastic action to slow the progress of the virus.  I am impressed to see the serious effort that President Trump, State Governors and cities are making to limit the damage to our economy, and lives of our citizens.

President Trump and Congress are working together.  They want to keep our economy from falling into recession.  The House and Senate are passing bipartisan stimulus bills.  The cost could be more than a trillion dollars.  With the debt that our country already shoulders you would think someone might worry about piling on more debt.  No one is even talking about that.  They are talking about food security – make sure the food chain works.  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says our economy isn’t in a recession now, and should recover later in the year.  He says we will need to help support our airlines and small businesses and workers that get laid off or lose their jobs.  There is talk about giving everyone $1,000.

I want to point out that there is some hope.  It appears that China may be starting to recover.  Last Friday China reported only 8 new cases of the virus.  Kids are going back to school and workers are going back to work.  China is making some regulatory changes which will open the door for more of our beef and distillers dried grain (DDG) to be shipped to them.  I am becoming more optimistic.  Hopefully, China will be able to buy that $40 billion worth of ag products from the U.S. Yes, I am optimistic, but I won’t bet the farm on it.

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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