John Rusling Block
|John R. Block|
|21st United States Secretary of Agriculture|
January 23, 1981 – February 14, 1986
|Preceded by||Robert Bergland|
|Succeeded by||Richard E. Lyng|
February 15, 1935 |
|Alma mater||United States Military Academy|
Early life 
Government service 
He is a Republican whose agriculture successes formed the basis for his position as Illinois Director of Agriculture. This led to him becoming the Secretary of Agriculture under Ronald Reagan from 1981-1986. This led to his involvement in the 1985 Farm Bill.
Block was Secretary of Agriculture when more farmers lost their farms than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. During his term as Secretary, a Federal court judge ruled in a due process decision, Coleman vs. Block, 663 FSupp 1315, 1332 (D.N.D. 1987), that the Department of Agriculture ("USDA") and Farmers Home Administration ("FmHA") were not giving farmers enough notice of alternative debt restructuring options. The Court ordered the USDA and FmHA to amend the forms issued to farmers. The decision eventually led to restructuring and reorganization of many farm debts. During the U.S. government's appeal of the decision, Congress passed the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, Pub. L. No. 100-233, 101 Stat. 1568 (1988). Title VI of the Act made extensive changes in the statutory provisions which had formed the background for the Coleman litigation, the changes being designed to carry out the intent of the Coleman decisions.
Post-government career 
Since then he has been an executive at John Deere and is President of Food Distributors International. In 1992 he won the Horatio Alger Award. He has been active in global food programs as well. In 2004 he joined the Board of Directors of "Digital Angel" which is more of an Internet company. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the World Food Program, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the UN World Food Program and its efforts to end global hunger. He currently is a Senior Policy Adviser at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz, a Washington law and lobbying firm that specializes in representing interests before the USDA and related federal agencies.
Private life 
Now living in Washington D.C., Block has a wife named Alexandra and a daughter named Savannah. John Block has three children from a previous marriage to Sue Block; named Hans, Cynthia, and Christine.
- John Block profile from a site on Presidents
- Essays on John Block from 1977
- Block's Resignation letter to Reagan
- Horatio Alger Award site
- Essay by him
- Friends of the World Food Program United States agency helping raise funds and awareness about global hunger
- John Block Reports Archived radio commentary from John Block's weekly radio spot about agriculture and government
|U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Served under: Ronald Reagan
Richard E. Lyng