Letters from readers
To the editor:
Who will speak up and defend family farmers in this replay of the 1980’s farm crisis? Back then, I gave the economics presentation at the first public meeting of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition and answered the phones the first day of our Farm Crisis Hotline. Desperate farmers had done everything, including maxing out credit cards, to save their family’s farm and heritage. I made clear it was not their fault. The Farm Bureau and the commodity organizations have for years sided with the multinational corporations to exploit family farmers. The Swamp, as it’s called today, always won legislative deliberations “for the industry.” (I saw this first hand when I was president of the National Family Farm Coalition in the early 2000’s.) My stint on the first Iowa Corn Promotion Board informed me that “more exports, more uses” and the idea that “the solution to low prices is low prices” was nothing but propaganda.
Farm Bureau denied there was a farm crisis and said that farming “is just like any other business.” Losing farms was natural. They finally had to respond when the farm crisis became a banking crisis that threatened the state economy. They never really defended the family farm as a cherished institution of our nation. This, despite the fact that farmers and small business folks created the Republican Party to end slavery, because they knew that a plantation economy like in the South guaranteed their economic demise in a brutish society.
Today’s farm crisis is not the product of a misguided trade war. We’ve seen the family farm be replaced by corporate confinements and feedlots that feed their thousands or millions of animals with the cheap corn and soybean meal raised by family farmers. (Smithfield, now a Chinese company owns 25% of all the hogs in the U.S.) Family farmers have no choice but to plant every acre to more cheap corn and soybeans to feed THEIR hogs. We’ve bought every chemical, seed trait, and electronic technology just like the giant agribusiness plantations in Brazil and Argentina making money for the likes of Monsanto (now a German corporation), DuPont, and Syngenta (now owned by ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned enterprise.)
So who will speak up and defend family farmers? I hope family farmers will, like my friend Larry Ginter, who spoke eloquently about a return to Parity for the benefit of family farmers and our nation’s economy.
Board member of
Family Farm Defenders,
former president of the
National Family Farm Coalition
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