With the new year upon us, I want to look back at 2011. I want to categorize it into the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Now for the good –
1. From agriculture’s standpoint, there is a lot of good. The farm economy is booming. Strong farm prices have helped to deliver a record net farm income of over 100 billion dollars. A year or two ago, the livestock and food processing industries were bitterly complaining about the rising cost of corn and other farm products. The livestock industry isn’t complaining much now with hog, cattle, and dairy prices riding high. They have adjusted, as the processors have, with food inflation expected to moderate this new year to less than 3%. The ag industry is in harmony more than I have seen it for a long time.
2. Our exports are also hitting a record this year near 140 billion dollars. President Obama and the bickering Congress came together and passed the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea which will equate to billions in new sales. Russia was finally admitted to the World Trade Organization. Russia the last large economy to be admitted. China has been a member for ten years now. The Russian membership will make it easier to deal commercially with that country because the WTO has trading rules. Hopefully, that will discourage Russia’s tendency to use non-tariff barriers to restrict imports.
3. Most of rural America supports energy independence and biofuels. We are grateful that President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have stood in support of the biofuels industry even in the face of harsh attacks over the past three years.
4. The same is true for GMO crops. Secretary Vilsack has been right there in support even though there are those that want all of our production to be organic.
5. This is not exclusively ag, but I am delighted that we are out of Iraq.
And now, the bad –
1. The Obama Administration’s obsession with regulation -0- I have been out here a long time and have never seen anything like it. The list is long, and the farm country is livid over the effort to regulate farm dust and our creeks and waterways and ponds.
2. Another disappointment is this Administration has not aggressively encouraged drilling for our own oil.
3. We still have 91,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan. Bring them home.
4. Finally, it’s a bad thing that we have this constant attack from the animal rights crowd and environmental extremists. They would only be satisfied if we all became vegetarians and farmed like my grandfather did.
Now for the ugly – it’s our debt; 15 trillion dollars and rising and driven by our entitlement society. It will pull us under if we don’t have the courage to deal with it.
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.