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Monday, June 22, 2009

Tractorcade

The farm crisis of the 80's began in the 70's, when the Farm business decrease it's worth from $33 Billion down to $22 Billion. This loss of revenue was caused by crop prices dropping while insecticides and fertilizers, fuel and seed increased in price. Soon the equity of the land dropped, and farms could no longer get loans to get their plants into the ground. Sound familiar?

Currently dairy farmers are facing the same struggles that beef and grain farmers faced in the 70's. The cost of fuel and feed has increased while the price of milk has dropped, hundreds of dairy farms are going out of business because of it. But for now, let's talk about what happened in the past. Let us talk about Parity, not government charity.

President Carter was asked about the tractorcade that was on it's way to the White house. His response was;

The American Presidency Project

I think as long as they demonstrate their support for our programs— [laughter] or displeasure with some of them legally and peacefully, they'll certainly be welcomed.

I have a background in agriculture, and I meet with many farmers when I go home, both those who register their advice and counsel and criticisms constructively, and the ones who register their advice, counsel, and criticism in a contrary way.

I think that in general, though, the 1977 farm act passed by Congress has been a very beneficial decision made for American farmers. Last year, net farm income went up about 25 percent. The only year that it's ever been that high is 1973, when there were some extraordinary circumstances. And I believe that most of the complaints that originated the American farm movement have now been answered.

We have each year record farm exports. We obviously have not had an embargo against the sale of American products overseas. But I expect farmers—being one of them—always to want better programs, higher parity payments, and so I think they'll be received well.

And I'm sure that there's not the deep sense of indignation and animosity that did exist 18 months ago, because many of those problems that were legitimately described by the American farm movement have now been resolved successfully.

This was untrue. Farmers where only making 66% of viable living cost under the recent Farm Bill. Even Carter's own sister wasn't fooled;

She participated in a tractorcade in Georgia. Gloria Carter Spann rode in a lawn chair on top of a tractor owned by her husband. She said, "Farmers are united for the first time, I've never been so proud of farmers."

It is estimated to 5,000-6,000 people drove their tractors hundreds of miles, across the US to the White House in protest of the Farm bill. This movement didn't make any changes in the political engine, it did succeed in a few changes in the Farm Bill, but nothing substantial. What it did do, was show the plight of many American farmers, people began to sympathize with them, it helped farmers create a larger community with in its self.

When foreclosures of farms began happening, many local farmers would attend the auctions, buying the items for mere pennies and then giving it back to the foreclosed owner. This aggravated the local police departments, although the police thought that it was morally wrong to do such a thing, it was not illegal. And for the farmers this was a moral and ethical reaction to what was happening to them.

Today we are in a crisis with our farms. As I stated above, dairy farms are being hit hard, but there is something else looming on the horizon, HR2749.

This bill includes;


Power to Quarantine a Geographic Area; the FDA can also Halt All Movement of All Food in a geographic area.

Random Warrantless Searches of Business Records.

Establishing a Tracing System for Food. This bill reads like NAIS However there is an exemption for farm direct sales.

Severe Criminal and Civil Penalties.

Annual Registration Fee of $1,000.

Regulation of How Crops Are Raised and Harvested.

What I find fascinating is that here you can not file as a farm unless you make $1,000 a year profit.

How will the farmers react to this? Many will inform you that this bill is for the large facilities and not the small farms, however there is a trickle down effect that many people seem to ignore now-a-days. The large facilities must recoup the money they lose from the fees, this is just another added debt to the farmers. You can not impose huge regulations that costs millions if you are not prepared to pass the cost down the line.

He who controls the food, controls the world.

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