Sep 19, 2014
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April 2014 Archive for John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block,

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

Trans Pacific Partnership

Apr 24, 2014

We started planting corn this week on our Illinois farm. It is always exciting to begin a new season. A lot of people depend on the U.S. farmer; not only our own citizens, but we export almost 30% of what we produce, feeding people all over the world.

In the last 20 years, we have entered into a whole series of free trade agreements. The value of a free trade agreement is that the countries involved agree to reduce their trade barriers – tariffs come down. Non-tariff barriers are eliminated. This opens the door for even more ag exports.

Perhaps the most successful and favorable agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. In his first term, President Obama was able to complete agreements with South Korea and Panama which President Bush negotiated.

Now, he is pushing to complete the Trans Pacific Partnership. As I speak, he is traveling to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, meeting with their leaders. This effort will be difficult. Democrats in the House and Senate are not cheering him on. Labor unions are against free trade. There will be no agreement unless passed by the Congress and signed by the President.

Reality is that the President, at this point, does not have a green light from the Congress to complete an agreement. Congress needs to pass so-called "fast track," which specifies that once a trade agreement is negotiated the Congress will vote it up or down with no amendments. The no amendment rule is the key. If amendments were accepted, we never would be able to complete an agreement. What country would be willing to negotiate an agreement with us only to have our Congress jump on it and make a lot of changes. Accept or reject is the only way.

President Obama has an uphill lift to get this bill completed given objections from his own party. The countries that we are negotiating with are fully aware that the President doesn’t have the legislation he needs to get the job done.

I would not expect any meaningful progress until after the elections this fall. We are still in a stand-off with Japan insisting on special treatment for their agriculture. Completing an agreement will not be easy, but at least we are trying.


Here Comes The EPA

Apr 08, 2014

We start this commentary by acknowledging that agriculture is not going to have a great year in 2014. Net farm income is projected to fall by 26 percent. Livestock farms should fare a little better, but corn, soy bean, and other grain farms are already looking at lower prices.

With that challenge facing us, should we be surprised that the federal government regulators are coming after us on more than one front?

EPA has just proposed a new rule to take over regulation of all water that falls on your land and mine -- not just "navigable" waters like rivers, creeks, and lakes, but all of your waterways, wherever water runs or stands after a rain. You will have to get permits to straighten a crooked creek or tile a wet hole.

Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau, states: "EPA’s proposed new rule poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers, and other land owners." Here they come again. EPA refuses to leave us alone.

On another front, the EPA and the Obama Administration are so obsessed with climate change that they have released a climate action plan that includes the targeting of methane emissions from cows. Blame the cows, and sheep, and goats, ruminant animals for global warming and climate change. They want to slash methane emissions from cows by 25%. They blame the cows for emitting 20% of the methane gas in the U.S.

If you look at the facts, you have to ask, what is this all about? First, methane emissions have already fallen by 17% since 1990 and our CO2 emissions are down by 20%. We haven’t experienced any global warming in the last 17 years. I’m not making this up. This is just another example of excessive government overreach. Their objective is to tie us in knots and control everything.

Here is a good line to conclude this commentary taken from an article entitled, Obama EPA to Regulate Bovine Emissions – "As the EPA tries to grab the bull by the horns, we must deal with this udder nonsense."


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