It seems like there is a lot going on all around us. We are right in the middle of harvest on the farm -- corn and soybeans a little more than half done. I’ll be on the combine next week, weather permitting.
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining three other former Secretaries of Agriculture at the University of Nebraska for a lively discussion to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which created the land grant college system back in 1862. It was a great evening as Dan Glickman, Clayton Yeutter, Mike Johanns and I took questions from an audience of 1,500.
Did we have any absolute answers on ag issues? We certainly questioned whether the "lame duck" Congress would be able to write a new farm bill. Senator Johanns seemed the most confident. I said there was a better chance of passing a six-month or one-year extension of the current bill. All of us supported energy security, including ethanol.
The week before going to Nebraska, I was in Illinois, where I spoke to the DuPage County Farm Bureau. They had a big crowd celebrating their 100th anniversary. It was "old home week" for me. The Farm Bureau is where I first started debating ag policy.
Speaking of debates, let’s turn the page to the presidential election. Not much time left. Mitt Romney surged into contention with an outstanding performance in his first debate with President Obama. They still have two more debates left. Rural and farm voters are not going to make their choice on where the candidate stands on the farm bill.
There doesn’t seem to be much difference. Both candidates support a safety net. Both support renewable fuels. Farm voters are looking at bigger issues -- such as regulations, trade, the nation’s debt, property rights, national security. There was a time when the farm program was first and foremost; not any more. Polls show that Romney has a 14-point lead in the rural areas of swing states. President Obama leads in the cities.
Election Day will be here before you know it. There is too much at stake. Don’t be sitting on the sidelines.
Next week, I’ll be on the farm and Rick Frank will fill in for me. He has a very important issue to put on the table: California’s preposterous Proposition 37!
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.