While the farm bill runs out the clock on Capitol Hill, former Secretary of Agriculture John Block says the progress made so far is a positive.
He says farm policy is evolving now, much as it did in the 1985 farm bill for which he was partially responsible. At that time, a major conservation tool in USDA’s arsenal was a land retirement program, but under Block it was refocused on areas that needed it most, resulting in what we now know as the Conservation Reserve Program.
Block’s message to consumers is that efforts like that to change farm policy has led to greater food security here in the U.S.
“We’ve got the safest food in the world,” Block says. “It’s the most reasonably priced food in the world. Nobody can even touch us on price. We’re spending less than 10% on the family income just to feed the family; in countries all over the world, some of them spend half of their income to feed the family. We’re really blessed with an efficient agriculture, safe food supply, nutritious, and some people say, ‘Well, we have an obesity problem.’ You know why? It’s because the food tastes so good. That’s the way it is.”
Block served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1981 to 1986, under President Reagan.