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John Block Reports: Barack Hussein Obama – A Retrospective

Today, OFW Law founding principal Richard L. Frank fills in for former USDA Secretary John R. Block on his weekly radio broadcast:

As we prepare to launch the Trump Administration, I thought it useful and appropriate to take a quick look back at our 44th President Barack Hussein Obama.

First and foremost, as a leader and human being, President Obama will be remembered as a success.  Our first Afro-American President, he served eight years with distinction – no scandals, no controversies, and a truly inspiring First Family.  While you may not have agreed with his policies or politics, there is no question but that it was a “clean” Presidency.

President Obama is a man of great integrity and honorable intentions.  Wherever you stand on Obamacare, it is hard to argue with more and better healthcare for all Americans.  He supported equal rights for all, including Blacks, Hispanics, and the LGBT community.  He supported safer and cleaner air, water, and food.  Again, all these are truly honorable intentions.

As to agriculture, it was never really one of his top priorities.  A failure of the Obama Administration will be that it never engaged immigration policy or, for that matter, even sent a proposal to Capitol Hill.  Trade, on the other hand, should be viewed as a success.  Widely supported by American agriculture, the Obama Administration negotiated a series of treaties, including the Trans Pacific Partnership which, if ever implemented, would definitely benefit American agriculture.

On nutrition policy, the Obama Administration was primarily led by the First Lady.  They took a somewhat naive approach to school lunch – made it more nutritious but lead to plate waste.  As to the Dietary Guidelines, the Committee appointed by the Obama Administration was full of ideologues and supporters of fringe policies.  Seeking to include sustainability and soda taxes as part of nutrition policy was just plain wrong.  Vilifying added sugar without adequate science, while well-intentioned, has led to yet another “good food/bad food” approach.  Sound science did not always rule the day.

As to agriculture incomes, they generally benefited during the early years, but not recently. Implementation of some of the trade deals which President Obama negotiated would help.  Overall, the economy and job market improved markedly since 2008.

History will be the ultimate judge of the Obama Administration.  For me, I am proud we elected an African American, stabilized our economy, provided health insurance to 20 million additional Americans, enshrined gay rights, and held civil discourse on a wide array of issues.  Let’s see where we are four years from now.

Until next week, I am Rick Frank for John Block from Washington, D.C.

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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