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John Block Reports: Issues

By Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, John R. Block.

I want to have an open mind and be fair as I evaluate the policies advocated by President Biden and our new Congress.  It is too soon to know where we are going on trade.  There are a lot of disputes and not many easy solutions.  We have a long list of differences with China.  But also with the European Union, UK, Japan and even Canada.  We’ll just wait and see.

On two other issues, I think that the new leadership is wrong.  President Biden’s executive order to stop oil and gas drilling on federal land is not going to put an end to global warming.  There is a bipartisan coalition coming together to oppose any permant leasing ban.  Two Democratic Senators from New Mexico say “it would cripple their states’ economy.”  They say it would cost thousands of jobs.  I have always argued that if the government has resources that the public needs and is willing to pay for it, then don’t shut it down.

President Biden shut down another very important business project – the Keystone Pipeline.  It is 90% completed, almost ready to deliver from Canada to U.S fuel that we need.  But without the pipeline we have to transport by truck and rail.  If you want to do something that will be good for our climate, finish the pipeline.  On the issue of climate change, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack had this to say.  “USDA is committed to addressing climate change through actions that are farmer, rancher, and forest landowner focused, and that create new market opportunities for our sector in a fair and equitable way.”  The word is that agriculture is responsible for 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions.  We can sequester and store carbon in our soils.  There is a lot of talk about the role that agriculture could play.  How do we do it?  In truth there was a lot of unanswered questions.  Will we have a carbon bank?  Will farmers be compensated?  It will be interesting to see where we go from here.

Last subject – It may be the most urgent.  Since President Biden took office the number of immigrants surging across our southern border has exploded.  With the “open border” talk, thousands see this as their chance to escape poverty in their country.  This crisis is only going to get worse before it gets better.

John Block served as 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. John hosts a weekly radio show going back more than 20 years. The commentary and opinions shared are a summary of the discussion from the broadcast and not a reflection of the opinions of the firm at large. For more from John Block Reports from Washington visit


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