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John Block: Ag Issues 2017

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture posted the announcement of this year’s World Food Prize Foundation laureate.  At one time, he was the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, and he now runs the African Development Bank – Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.  He has been a leader in transforming African agriculture.  In attending that event, I talked to Secretary Perdue and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.  They both think the Trump Team is moving the country in the right direction.  It isn’t easy with serious policy divisions in the Congress and in the country.  I thank them both for their leadership.

Will we ever get Obamacare off the Table?  It needs to be fixed or repealed.

President Trump met with Indian Prime Minister Modi this week and pushed to get India to lift its trade barriers.  India has refused to import U.S. poultry for 10 years and continues to close the door on our pork.  They have been slow-walking their process to approve our biotech crops. 

Secretary Perdue and Ambassador Branstad will be in China this weekend.  Very exciting!  After years of being shut out of that market, a cargo of U.S. beef has been accepted in China.  China is potentially a big market for our beef.  To celebrate the breakthrough into that market, our Secretary of Agriculture and Ambassador will sit down to a dinner of Nebraskan beef in China.  They could have had that beef right here at home.  But they have a lot of trade work to do.

The Waters of the U.S. rule has been threatening farmers and ranchers since it was imposed by President Obama.  That rule interferes with good farming practices and farm property rights.  It is just a start, but the Trump Administration is going to repeal it.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that a replacement rule would be released by the fourth quarter of this year.  Here is what Speaker Paul Ryan had to say:  “The west has finally won over the Obama Administration WOTUS rule.  This regulation would have been a disaster for rural communities in the west and across the country, giving Washington near-total control over water resources.”  I say, get this done, and we will have reason to celebrate again.

The 4th of July is almost upon us.  God Bless America and I am John Block from Washington.

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