Joe Musick

I VERY MUCH enjoyed the article in Delta Farm Press about Dr. Joe Musick (July 11, 2003, “Joe Musick: Lifelong commitment to farmers”). The tributes to Joe speak for themselves, but I would like to add a few more.

I have known Dr. Musick for 20 years as a member of the Research Center Administrators Society (RCAS). Joe is not only a positive influence for the Louisiana and U.S. rice industries, he is a motivator and shaker of off-campus research and Extension centers throughout the U.S.

He was one of a few individuals who recognized that off-campus experiment stations are the lifeblood of applied agriculture, and 20 years ago modernized an organization then known as Experiment Station Superintendents. The revised organization was structured to have seminars, tours, and social gatherings such that research center directors could share ideas and obtain information on ever-changing methods of modern agriculture.

Equally important, research unit leaders can learn to better manage faculty and staff, transfer research information to farmer clients, find new sources of funding, and many other important responsibilities.

When Joe Musick and others redesigned the research center organization it involved only off-campus research and Extension units in the southeast. Today, RCAS has expanded to involve research centers all over the U.S. For this we can thank Joe Musick. Many people outside Louisiana are going to miss Dr. Joe Musick as well.
Findlay M. Pate
Ona, Fla.

Payment limits

LOOKS TO ME like the federal government is shouldering most of the risk. I wonder how these guys keep a straight face (“Payment limits: ‘The rest of the story,’” Delta Farm Press, June 27, 2003).

Freedom to Farm was supposed to grant flexibility. Flexibility to move out of one crop and into another. The goal was to let the market seek a fair price based on supply and to cushion the impact on producers of that most basic market function as they seek the most profitable crop for their farm.

These guys seem to be saying, “To hell with the market, I'm growing cotton no matter what,” because the government will guarantee my success.

When did the mandate of the farm bill become Habitual Overproduction, and who made that silly decision? Cotton producers seem to be making decisions on expansion and capital expenditures based solely on government support.

Where I come from the crop is still the primary consideration, but the expanded payment limits are making inroads to that rationale even here.

This can do a lot of harm to U.S. agriculture because, eventually, the budget minders will ask the pointed question, “Why do we pay these guys more and more to grow more and more of what we don't need any of?” The backlash will snap the necks of most of us if/when it occurs.

It's bad policy, and such a narrow focus on the part of payment beneficiaries is bad business.

It will be all the more injurious when reality finally sets in.
Richard R. Oswald
Langdon, Mo.