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July 2010 Archive for 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.

Set The Record Straight

Jul 29, 2010

For two years now, environmentalists have wanted to pass legislation to cap greenhouse gases. Put a tax on carbon. Don’t touch the rain forests. We want “sustainable” agriculture.
 
Well, now we have the same answers. The facts are staring them right in the face. And they aren’t going to like what they see. Nevertheless, facts are facts. Truths are irrefutable.
 
The savior is modern agriculture, factory farming, whatever you want to call it.
 
Dennis Avery, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, summarizes a comprehensive study done by Stanford University. This study should be required reading for all environmental and animal rights activists.
 
“Conventional and high yield farming is far better for the planet than low yield farming.”
  1. It takes less land to produce the same amount of food.
  2. When we plow up more land for low yield crops, billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere.
  3. Biotechnology has given us a 36% increase in corn yield in the last 15 years and 17% increase in soybean yield.
  4. Pesticide applications are down 8.4% globally (775 million pounds) in that 15-year period.
  5. 141 million gallons of fuel have been saved. All of this reduces the emission of greenhouse gases.
 
Let’s take a quick look at livestock and milk production. The number of dairy cows in the U.S. in the last 60 years has decreased from 25 million to 9 million. And, get this, those 9 million produce 50% more milk. Our dairy cows last year produced 20,000 pounds of milk per cow compared to the European cow that only produced 12,000 pounds. They don’t get it in Europe. They’re still fighting modern agriculture. We produce much more milk with fewer cows and – “bingo” – the carbon footprint is reduced accordingly.
 
Another fact is the confinement feeding of livestock sharply reduces greenhouse gases. It has been estimated that it would take a land mass the size of Pennsylvania to raise hogs on free range.
 
We need to sing the praises of modern agriculture. Subsistence farming is not sustainable. Subsistence farming will harm the environment and cannot feed the people.
 
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.
 

Tea Party Movement

Jul 22, 2010

How about that Tea Party movement? A year ago, nobody had even heard of them. When they burst upon the scene, all the political power brokers were making fun of them. They were a joke. Not any more!
 
The Tea Party’s strength is reinforced by a growing anger about the government’s insistence on throwing money at everything, driving up our national debt, and an apparent desire to manage our lives.
 
Government spending was growing in the years 2001 to 2007 when federal spending jumped 36%. However, the act that lit the fuse was the gigantic stimulus bill. With wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our effort in nation building, our entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – we are piling up debt at an astounding rate. There are a lot of people in the country that think our government spends too much money. Our government tries to be all things to all people. Big government has accepted a “cradle to the grave” responsibility.
 
We can’t afford it. We are becoming addicted to this nanny state. We have had oil spilling in the Gulf. How much money will we have to spend to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again/ Our government must keep us safe – safe from terrorists, safe from runaway cars, safe from bad spinach, manage what we eat, put the brakes on obesity. The government’s new challenge is to reverse global warming. Perhaps I’m wrong but I’m afraid only God can do that.
 
Hopefully, the Tea Party movement is for real. Maybe they can help us get control of spending and our inclination to expect the government to do everything for us.
 
Fiscal responsibility, limited government, private property rights, personal responsibility seem to be the battle cry of the Tea Party troops. I like what I hear. If we have the courage to make some very tough decisions, we can avoid bankruptcy. We don’t want to be begging for life support like Greece.
 
It won’t be easy. We can’t save ourselves simply by “cutting government waste.” We will have to cut some very popular programs. How about a 5% cut across the board – no exceptions, including entitlements and defense. Is that too much to ask? Families can do it. Farms and businesses can do it. Let’s show some courage.
 
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.

A New World

Jul 09, 2010

Last weekend, we celebrated Independence Day (our Fourth of July). It makes us look back at what we have achieved as a nation. It also should cause us to contemplate our future.
 
Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, made a casual comment that got him in a lot of trouble with a number of conservative Republicans. He said the war in Afghanistan may not be “winnable.” Perhaps as chair of the Republican Party, he should not have said this, but that’s not my point here.
 
My point is that as we celebrate our history and look to the future, we need to rethink our role in this new and changing world in which we live. Maybe, just maybe, the war in Afghanistan is not winnable or, if it is, is it worth the cost in dollars and lives?
 
We need to have a national debate on this serious subject. We have been fighting there for more than eight years.
 
Beyond the question of our involvement in Afghanistan, what is our appropriate role in the rest of the world?
 
Look at the realities. The Cold War is over. Ronald Reagan drove the Soviet Union into submission. Around the world, we have strong, powerful countries that want to build their economies. They want stability. They don’t want war. Why don’t we lean on them to carry some of the global responsibility for security? Maybe China should carry more responsibility for dangerous North Korea. Pakistan might be given more responsibility to keep an eye on Afghanistan. Russia can help. Russia has a lot at stake.
 
I haven’t even mentioned Europe. Europe has historic ties to Africa.
 
Our military dominance of the world is unsustainable. We have bases, troops, ships all over the world. Do you know that we have 90,000 troops stationed in Europe? They were put there to help defend against the old Soviet Union. We are spending almost $700 billion on national defense. The defense expenditure of the five closest countries to us combined (all together) totals less than that. This is ridiculous. We cannot afford to police the whole world.

I realize that what I’m suggesting might not get a rave review in some conservative circles, but we need to give up the “Cold War” attitude and look to a different future.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my Web site, 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.

Trade

Jul 05, 2010


They have a tin ear. Obvious opportunities to increase jobs in our weak economy have been ignored. The ag industry and, in fact, all of our export companies have been complaining that President Obama hasn’t been doing anything to increase our exports – other than talk about it. He did predict that he would double exports in the next 5 years. The Washington Post called Ron Kirk, our U.S. Trade Ambassador, “the most underemployed man in Washington.”

Well, finally it looks like the President is beginning to hear the call from the country for action. The Administration has acknowledged that Europe and Canada are near completion of new trade agreements with South Korea.
 
This is what the White House is saying now. “We stand to lose 30 billion dollars in exports. We must take the initiative to avoid putting U.S. jobs and growth at risk.” How long have we been screaming this message from the rafters?
 
In addition, South Korea is not the only trade opportunity at risk. Our exports are on the decline with Colombia. The national Pork Producers Council predicts that “the U.S. will be completely out of the Colombian pork market within 10 years because Canada has a Free Trade Advantage.” Yes, Canada just completed an FTA with Colombia. We negotiated a trade agreement with Colombia four years ago but it has never been submitted to the Congress for a vote of approval. We’re losing out. Is it too late? I don’t know, but we have a lot of catching up to do.
 
This Administration and their Congressional friends are so afraid of the labor union lobby that they are frozen in place. Maybe it is about time they started to realize that they will lose even more political support if they continue to ignore rural America and business.
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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