By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.
I will cover some issues of the day that may not have gotten much attention.
- The U.S. and Russia have a long-range nuclear arms agreement that will expire next February. The agreement was negotiated and went into effect 30 years ago. It is time to renegotiate, and China will also be invited to come aboard. We will all be safer if there is an absolute limit on nuclear war heads. Whatever we can do to increase cooperation and reduce conflict will be good for mankind.
- Still about National Security – President Trump shocked government officials in both Germany and the U.S. when he announced that he would pull 9,500 of our Troops out of Germany. We have more than 30,000 in Germany now. The European Union, and especially Germany, need to do more to fund their defense. The NATO nations have agreed to each spend 2% of their GDP for military defense. The U.S. is providing more than 3%, but Germany, the richest of the European nations has not stepped up to the plate. Some U.S. officials as well as German Chancellor Merkel do not agree with President Trump. I give President Trump credit. European nations need to take appropriate action to defend themselves. We will not bring all our 9,500 troops home. Some will probably end up in Poland, which could provide better positioned strategic defense against Russia. Once again, it is time to make some adjustments.
- Last subject, Agriculture – The shock waves sent by the coronavirus epidemic have had a devastating impact on our industry. On a personal note, we sold a trailer load of market hogs (180 head) this week. We got about half as much money for them as we did for a trailer load 1 year ago. The Food and Ag Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri expects farm income this year to drop $20 billion – roughly 9%. The National Pork Producers Council say we will lose $37 per head and cow calf producers will lose $112 per head. Goeff Cooper, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association reports that “about 2/3 of our ethanol plants are either shut down or have greatly reduced production.” That is not good for corn since 40% of corn is used to supply ethanol. The dairy industry and fresh produce also are having a rough ride. We have been on these rides before, but it is no fun.
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 www.johnblockreports.com.