Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary –
We expected another big increase in the cost of fertilizer to feed our crops. The U.S. International Trade Commission voted to approve new increased duties on imports of ammonium nitrate from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago. Those countries export to us more than 80% of the nitrogen fertilizer that we use. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter urging the ITC to suspend the process. No more tariffs. Suspension was approved. Thank you.
Let’s talk about funding our government for the next fiscal year. The House Rules Committee will put six bills on the table. One of them will be the ag funding bill for $27.2 billion and that provides a $2 billion increase above this year. Also, the nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children is set at $6 billion and the child nutrition and school meals will cost $28 billion. Good start. We will see what happens.
I want to say a few words about President Biden’s visit to the Middle East. He first met with the Israeli Prime Minister. They are not on the same page on how to deal with Iran. “Get tougher on Tehran.” That’s what the Prime Minister advised. Trying to cut a deal with Iran probably will not work. They cannot be trusted.
On the last day of his trip President Biden met with a number of Mideast leaders. That included Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and leaders from Egypt, Iraq and others. Some people in the U.S. have been very critical of President Biden for even meeting with the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince. The U.S. government thinks the prince supports the killing of journalist Khashoggi. So why should we be over there begging for oil? My take on all this Middle East diplomacy is that it was the right thing to do. We don’t need to be fighting a war in the Middle East. We did that for 20 years. But we do need to maintain close relations with some countries that can stand up against Iran. We need to be there to ensure that China and Russia cannot dominate everything. Remember President Trump connected a number of Arab nations with Israel. The United States needs to reestablish our effort to bend and expand those connections.
Good news. We may get a deal with Russia that would allow Ukraine grain exports. We shall see.
Until next week, this is John Block reporting from Washington, D.C. If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to www.johnblockreports.com.