John Block Reports from Washington
John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.
Agriculture’s “Message” Problem
Mar 21, 2013
We celebrated Ag Day this week. Secretary Vilsack did an outstanding job of making the case for our industry at a dinner held in the Atrium of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Barry Nelson (John Deere) provided the welcome, Orion Samuelson (WGN) served as MC, and Teresa Scanlan (Miss America 2011) also spoke.
The challenge we have in agriculture is to get our message out. Secretary Vilsack laid it out about as clear as can be done. We are farming about the same acreage as we farmed when he was a boy, but the amount that we produce today is off the chart. He did have a chart. The amount of labor to produce the food continues to decline. Only 1% of our population is farming. It used to be 30%. Furthermore, a family used to spend 50% of their income on food. It’s less than 10% now.
The Ag Day message needs to be broadcast far and wide. At a different event but still part of the celebration, I heard J.B. Penn speak. He served the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a number of very nigh positions and currently serves as John Deere’s Chief Economist. Without getting into too many details, there will be a farm bill written this year. We will not have the money that we had to spend in the past, and crop insurance will be our primary safety net. It’s a new day. It’s not my father’s agriculture with 2 old horses pulling a 2-row corn planter and it’s not going to be my father’s farm bill.
The last subject that I want to put on the table is Cyprus. Yes, Cyprus. The island country in the Mediterranean has less than 1 million inhabitants. However, Cyprus is a member of the European Union and, like some other members of the EU, is broke. To get money to bail the country out, it was prepared to tax everyone’s bank account up to 10%. Instead of calling it a tax, I would say they were planning to confiscate 10% of the people’s bank accounts. Can you imagine that? If our government tried that, there would be a revolution. I don’t know what will happen in Cyprus, but I can’t believe they can get away with that kind of thievery.
The lesson in all of this is that over-spending and over-promising eventually hits the wall. Maybe we should pay attention.
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.