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Farm Safety Week

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

Ever since the past administration rewrote the WOTUS (Waters of the U.S.) rule, farmers have complained about the government’s over reach.  President Trump has acted.  Agriculture Secretary Perdue had this to say- “Repealing the WOTUS rule is a major win for American agriculture.  President Trump is making good on his promise to reduce burdensome regulations to free our producers to do what they do best – feed, fuel and clothe this nation and the world.”

One of the most important issues of the day is the push to pass the USMCA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.  Many of our farm leaders have come to town to pressure Congress to act.  Secretary Perdue has invited former Secretaries of Agriculture, Republicans and Democrats, for lunch and a press conference.  We have all signed a joint letter urging Congress to pass USMCA.  Farm broadcasters across the country will be reporting on our meeting.  Getting the trade agreement done secures our relationship with our two closest neighbor countries and biggest trading partners.  Another very important value in getting USMCA behind us is that it will help give us some momentum to move ahead with a deal with China.  An early October meeting is expected between our Trade Ambassador Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and the Chinese Vice Premier.  Let’s hope we can get something done.  China just put in a big order for U.S. soybeans and U.S. pork shipments to China this year are up 62 percent. 

I will be on the farm in Illinois next week.  We hope we can get started with the corn harvest.  Farm work can be dangerous.  Secretary Perdue issued a proclamation making this week – September 15-21 as National Farm Safety and Health week.  Be safe this harvest season. 

In closing I want to pay tribute to John Ochs who passed away on August 6 with funeral services on October 26.  John served as my Press Secretary when I was Illinois State Director of Agriculture and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  John is well known and respected by our nation’s farm broadcasters.  He was a great guy and close friend.  He had many valuable creative ideas for me to do when I was Secretary of Agriculture.  He had me riding a horse at the Indiana State Fair, bringing President Regan to USDA for a press conference, singing a song on the Grand Old Opry, and hosting farm leader events on my farm in Illinois.  John will be missed.  Our prayers are with his family.

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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