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Government Gridlock & More

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

We have not heard much about the threat of African Swine Fever.  Even China seems to be recovering from that devastating disease.  But now the swine industry in Germany is worried.  Poland has been suffering swine fever losses and they are right up against Germany.  Germany is one of the world’s largest pork producing nations with 22,000 swine operations.  A big risk is that it can be spread by wild boars.  There has been a lot of concern here in Washington about whether the Congress, which cannot agree on anything, will fail to pass legislation to fund our government after this month.  Our new fiscal year begins October 1, and without legislation we will have no money.  The word now is that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have agreed to work on a short-term spending bill that would fund our government until mid-December.  The election would be behind us then and putting together a budget for next year should be much easier.  The other legislative issue hanging in the air is whether lawmakers can come together and pass a new coronavirus relief bill.  There is no agreement at this point.  Democrats want to spend $2 trillion and Republicans say that is too much.  Who gets the money, and how much, is the other big dispute.

Last subject – We celebrated Labor Day Monday this week.  I have so much respect and appreciation for the hard-working laborers of this country.  They are the ones that feed the chickens, milk the cows, bale the hay.  They repair the power lines and rebuild the houses and barns after the storms.  We cannot forget the health care workers risking their lives in the face of the Coronavirus.  We still have too many workers unemployed.  The August report tells us that our economy added 1.4 million jobs and the unemployment rate fell from 10.2% to 8.4%.  That is progress.  But, before the pandemic the unemployment rate was 3.5% with income rising.  Hats off to the workers.  Let us rebuild the economy and pay them more money.

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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