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John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block, AgWeb.com

John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.

Chairman Collin Peterson

Mar 04, 2010

Last week, I stopped by the office of House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. I didn’t have any agenda. I just wanted to thank him for his leadership and effort to represent the agriculture industry.
 
Of course, as you might guess, we did talk about ag policy. Chairman Peterson has put together a bipartisan group of House Members that want to expand trade and travel with Cuba. I served on a panel of 4 that met with Congressional aides. We encouraged them to support trade with Cuba. We want to do our share to push the trade and travel issue to the front. Another subject that Chairman Peterson and I agreed on is the unfortunate reality that explosive federal government debt and farm program spending are on a collision course. We can’t escape. Direct payments, crop insurance, even conservation will feel the spending squeeze.
 
The Chairman said that the rising debt is going to require a new look at writing the next farm bill. He acknowledged that “ag spending is on the table.” But he wants to make sure that we are treated fairly and not required to do more than our share. I agree.
 
My experience over many years is that farm programs change. When I was Secretary of Agriculture, we had annual crop land set asides. For example, to qualify for price supports on corn, you had to set aside in grass 10 percent of your crop land. Some of the best land in the world was just sitting idle. We finally got rid of the set aside and started the Conservation Reserve. The Conservation Reserve takes land out of production but it is fragile land subject to erosion. We’ve made progress. There are more reforms that we need to make, and the budget pressures will force us to do that.
 
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.
 
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.
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