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Mother on My Mind

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

Being in lock down like most of our citizens and trying to celebrate Mother’s Day made me think.  My mother was so dedicated to my 2 sisters, me and of course my dad.  Mom & Dad were married in 1934 and in 1935 I was born.  We were living in a small house with no running water, no bathroom and no electricity but we had an outhouse.  After 2 or 3 years we moved to another farm house – and we got running water, electricity and a bathroom when I was 4 or 5.  When I turned 6, I went to a one room country school.  No running water but we had 2 outhouses.  My mother made my lunch each day that I took to school.  She helped me with my school homework.  As I look back, it was not easy.  She cooked lunch for my dad and the hired man that worked for us every day.  Think about this.  The American family is the foundation of our great nation and our mothers’ dedication, persistence, and love have served as our inspiration to work hard and succeed.

I went to West Point – graduated and served in the 101st Airborne Division.  Then, back to the farm in 1960.  Fifteen years later I was appointed Illinois State Director of Agriculture.  Four years after that, off to Washington, DC to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for President Ronald Reagan.  My mother was always there encouraging me, coming to D.C. for special ag events.  Mom and dad are both gone now, but Mother’s Day makes me look back at how important a family can be.  That’s where we can learn personal responsibility, values and dedication.  Thank you to all the mothers out there.

Now to take a quick look at issues of the day.  1) Looks like our nation is starting to go back to work.  It will be a slow process. Let’s hope it can be done without another surge of coronavirus.  2) I think President Trump should be careful about how hard he hammers China.  We don’t want China to back out of the trade deal we signed with them.  The farm industry has enough trouble now. 3) House Democrats are pushing a massive $3 trillion relief bill.  I will talk more about that next week.

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, just go online to

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