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By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

We all have priorities.  I was delighted when USMCA — our new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada — was completed and agreed to.  The next step is to get all three countries to vote acceptance.  We lifted our steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada, which opened the door for approval.

But last week President Trump announced that he would impose new tariffs on Mexico if they don’t “immediately” stop the flow of undocumented immigrants and drugs across our border.

U.S. and Mexican officials are meeting now as I record this program.  Keep in mind most of the immigrants come from Central America and they cross the border into Mexico and head north through Mexico to our border.  Mexico for many years was very tough in keeping their border closed.  Not now.  The onslaught is too much, and they just walk across.  We can only hope that Mexico can come up with a plan to help stop the flow and avoid another tariff war.  Also, I don’t think we can get USMCA passed with U.S. and Mexico in a trade fight.

Mexico and China are our two most important trading partners.  And at this point the trade dispute with China seems to be going nowhere.

On the plus side, Congress passed the huge $19.1 billion disaster aid bill.  This will provide much needed support to the thousands that have seen wildfires, floods, and hurricanes devastate farms, towns and businesses.  The bill provides $3.3 billion for the Agriculture Department.  Support will be there for farmers who have lost their crops and are unable to plant this year because of floods.  The Forest Service will also get funding to recover from wildfires.  This has been the toughest planting season that I can remember. 

On my farm in Illinois we have 80% of our corn planted.  We just got started planting soy beans this week.  The delay will be costly for farmers.

Happy note – Thank you EPA.  They announced approval of year-round E 15 sales.  We could see 15% ethanol in our fuel and that would expand the corn market.  The EPA ruling will likely be delayed by court challenges. 

Get the crops planted…

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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