Hard to believe, but summer is over. It’s Labor Day. On that note, I want to say how much respect I have for the hard-working men and women that labor in the trenches. I’m not talking about big corporation managers, not talking about Wall Street, not talking about political big wigs or university professors. I want to honor the carpenter, the plumber, the factory worker, the farmer growing the food, the rancher caring for the cattle, the workers in the processing plants – I don’t think they get the appreciation they deserve.
We are all aware that jobs are scarce with unemployment close to 10%. However, Secretary Vilsack’s recent review of the rural economic picture is encouraging. I think we all would agree that 2009 was not a great year. Our input costs soared. In fact, the nitrogen fertilizer in 2009 cost twice as much as it did for this year’s crop. Now, we seem to have settled into a comfort zone that may last for a couple of years. USDA reports farm income up 24%. Farm asset values up 2.5%. The income improvement is across the board – cattle, hogs, dairy, poultry and eggs. Grain prices are strong, and we have a pretty good crop. We can thank drought in Russia and Ukraine for better grain prices. Also, I reported when in Germany recently the German farmers couldn’t harvest their wheat because of too much rain. I read now that they still are having trouble harvesting the crop.
So, U.S. agriculture seems to be riding above the difficult economic times much of the country is struggling with. And Secretary Vilsack goes on to say, “The outlook going forward into fiscal year 2011 is even more promising.”
I have one last subject that I want to mention – the Glenn Beck “Tea Party” rally held here in Washington, D.C. this past Sunday. We had two friends from Montana come and stay with us for the express purpose of attending the event. They were so inspired. 400,000 people, Sarah Palin, Albert Pujols (Cardinals first baseman), and more. A lot of big political insiders have underestimated the power of the “Tea Party” movement. But I think they are starting to get the picture.
That’s it for this week. Harvest time is just around the corner. Be safe.
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.