Letter to the Editor
(August 2000)

Rural America is dying. Farmers, ranchers and small businessmen are watching their financial base erode. Many are drowning in a sea of red ink. Most of this has been caused by failed agricultural policies and programs.

General Motors and John Deere can cut back on production when demand falls,and by so doing keep their prices up and maintain profits, or at least avoid losses. Individual farmers and ranchers can't affect the supply individually enough to affect price. Historically, government has, through supply management programs, been the tool that we have used to adjust agricultural supply to demand. However, we have put this tool away. It is in the tool box and our mechanics in Washington D.C. refuse to take it in hand and use it. If we allow the production of our nation's food and fiber to fall into the control of a few large corporations who can manage supply to meet demand without government assistance, heaven help this nation.

Everyone who sells to the farmer and rancher or buys from him are merging and becoming fewer and larger. This has reached a critical point resulting in a very little competition to sell to the farmer or to buy from him. For instance, 80% of the cattle in the U.S. is butchered by four packers and those four packers own or have contracted 25% of the cattle in feedlots at any one time. These packers use this to effectively shut the cattleman out of the market when they feel prices have gone too high.

Also, many of you have worked hard to increase export of agricultural products. However, our exports of grains and soybeans for the past 25 years have been basically a flat line: no increase. We are importing more meat and meat animals than we are exporting. The exports of cotton have grown; mainly because much of our textile industry has gone outside of the U.S. and taken much of our market with it.

There are three major policy areas that are crucial to a successful, sustainable agriculture industry.

1. U.s. Agricultural Programs for crops, dairy and livestock must be revised to provide an effective safety net during periods when market returns are inadequate.

2. The issue of market concentration and integration in agriculture must be examined. New policies must be implemented to ensure that an accessible, transparent and competitive market place is available to all producers.

3. Agricultural trade policy must accommodate a broad range of priorities including socioeconomic issues as well as market access and fair competition.

Mainly, producers need a price for their product. One change in the agriculture program which we now have, that might help, is the flexible fallow proposal. The issue of price for agricultural products affects all of rural America.

Please write, call or fax both the majority and minority head of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. They are listed here:

Congressman Larry Combest 1026 Longworth House Office building Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone 202-225-4005 Fax 202-225-9615

Congressman Charlie Stenholm 1211 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone 202-225-6605 Fax 202-225-2234

Rural America is in a fight for its life. If this were a court case we would all be putting money in a fund to hire the best lawyers possible. So please hire the best representation available that has not sold out to our adversaries. Become a part of the established farm organization that is working toward these goals. Whether you are a farmer, rancher or rural person who depends on these groups for your livelihood, you should be a Farmers Union Member.

For more information, call 1-800-299-FARM. Remember, all that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good people to stand idly by and do nothing.

Sincerely, Ray Savage Route 4, Box 382 Seminole, Tx 79360 Phone 915-758-3420 Cell Phone 915-661-7734


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