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John Block: Ag Industry United

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block

In these times of low farm prices, it is encouraging to see farm associations and leaders stepping up to protect our farmers and ranchers.

The CEOs of CropLife America, the National Corn Growers Association, and the American Soybean Association became a powerful agriculture industry leadership team, including the American Farm Bureau, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, and many more. The leaders met with policy representatives of both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. Farm leaders of different crops and different priorities spoke in unison. Stop the regulatory overreach. Trade is important to us. We need labor to pick the strawberries. Regardless of who gets elected as President our industry needs to be heard.

The Ag CEO council of leaders has also been meeting with Secretary Vilsack and the Administration. They have argued that the Administration (especially EPA) has been too quick to regulate, that they have ignored sound science, forced new rules on states, they have re-written the definition of waters of the U.S., and more. Agriculture is very concerned that the Administration follows sound science as their time in office ticks down.

One last subject – I reported two weeks ago that we have great yields on our farm. Our crops are clean and weed-free. However, a neighbor asked us this year to farm a 40-acre field of his. Fertilizer was applied on the field as we did on our other fields – same weed killer, same seed, but the yield was 30% less. Why? The answer – weeds. Why is this one field an exception? The answer – organic farming. The owner had been farming organic crops for several years, but finally the weeds took charge and he had to give up.

No one can tell me that ignoring new technology in agriculture is a good idea and that we should farm like my grandfather did. We don’t do anything just as we did 60 years ago.

It will take 2 or 3 years to clean up this little field and get the yields up.

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, visit

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