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John Block: Regulations

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block

President Trump is aggressively working to relieve the heavy burden of excessive regulations imposed on businesses in recent years.  Remember what President Reagan said about regulations:  “A government regulation is the nearest thing to eternal life that anyone will ever see on this earth.”

I think that we all know there are good regulations and bad regulations, but too many just tie us in a knot.  President Trump has said for every new regulation, two old ones must be discarded.  Not a bad idea. 

The ag industry uses a lot of energy.  We need natural gas to make nitrogen fertilizer (anhydrous ammonia).  We need oil to fuel our tractors, trucks, and combines.  We have made enormous progress in developing cleaner energy in wind, solar, and biofuels.   We don’t worry every day about energy from the Middle East where we used to get most of our oil and gas.  We are moving to energy independence.  Now – thanks to President Trump – the Keystone pipeline from Canada will be built.  Another new pipeline can now be completed from North Dakota to Illinois, and on to the refineries on the east and gulf coasts.  The pipeline does not require federal approval, except one place where it goes near the Missouri River.  There is every reason to think that we will get this done.  But much of the delay is because of endlessly redundant federal environmental regulations.

Almost every infrastructure project runs up against those road blocks.  We are hopeful that we can fund a major infrastructure of highways, bridges, locks, and dams.  Finding the money to fund the projects is a challenge but we will also run up against the environmental lobby trying to protect some bird, rat or fish.  They will say we need to clean up the air we breathe; close down the coal mines.

Let’s be honest.  Our air and water is about as clean as any country in the world.  Look at the pictures of people in some Chinese cities where the air is black.  I stepped out on my back porch this morning.  The air is fresh and clean.  Get the regulations out of the way. 

We can build a better future for the U.S.A.

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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