What Oxfam wants

HAVE YOU ever meet anyone from Oxfam to discuss the farm program and what Oxfam is trying to do? (“Iowa farmer, politician could be sincerely wrong, March 31, Delta Farm Press.) Oxfam is not trying to “dismantle the farm program;” they are trying to make sure that the farm subsidies go to support family farms. The current farm program is benefiting rich farmers who are only trying to get bigger. The current program has created a surplus of commodities and chronic low prices.

Fact: the current stand by Oxfam is to support Senator Grassley's bill to limit subsidies to $250,000 with a doubling component for couples engaged in farming. This is by no means a plan to dismantle the current farm bill. If we don't wake up, the farm bill will be eliminated not by Oxfam supporters but by the increasingly urban makeup of the United States voting population. We as farmers need to make every effort to support the prudent use of resources by the federal government.

These statistics are from the 2002 USDA census:

Total cotton farms in the U.S.: 24,805

Total acres: 12,456,162

Average size: 502 acres

According to USDA reports. For a farm to be impacted by the proposed payment limits (Senator Grassley's bill), for cotton they would have to be over 1,000 acres.

Cotton farms over 1,000 acres: 6,916

Farms that receive over $50,000 in government payments (all farms not just cotton farms): 20,556.

We are spending a lot of effort to protect the income of a very small minority of farmers. It is time to stop the consolidation and growth of big farms.

I can also use NCC statistics to show you the same result. We are giving away millions of dollars to a very few wealthy farmers who control the farm lobbying interest in Washington as well as the farm media.

I don't expect you to change your mind. I know the National Cotton Council and other commodity groups have made it up for you. But think about the statistics I have listed. Does this make sense?

Farm program payments should be used to support small farmers, not help big farmers get bigger.

Think about this: Why would the NCC want to curtail cotton production when they make their money off of the amount produced? Overproduction of cotton in America may mean low prices and less money for the American farmer but for the NCC it means more money. That does not make sense. Where is the incentive to reduce overproduction?

I am a small cotton and corn farmer from west Texas, and I support not only Senator Grassley and his efforts to limit subsidy payments but also Oxfam and their efforts to help small farmers in rural America and rural Africa. African and American farmers suffer from the same problem — low commodity prices. If we received decent prices for the goods we produce we wouldn't even need a farm subsidy program.

Ken Gallaway


Talk to Mr. Leonard?

I HAVE just read and reread the article, “Iowa Farmer, politician could be sincerely wrong.”

Your article was based on other publications (Wall Street Journal) and their opinions. You seem to get into bashing them and then in the last paragraph you turn on Mr. Leonard yourself. Please find someone who has actually talked to Mr. Leonard or perhaps you could do a personal interview with the man to see what this is all about.

I get caught in the “Christian” aspect of this article. Some of the terms and quotes used perhaps show a bias toward the anti-Christian aspect often found in national media. Also, I'm very interested in Mr. Leonard's use and abuse of farm payments and how he will help throw “thousands of farm families off the land.” Can you help the reader determine how this equates with the African farmers? I'll bet there are two sides to this story and I'll be waiting to hear them. Otherwise it sounds like trying to bash a political candidate that's throwing a hat in the ring to unseat Ms. Judge.

I'm looking at your article from a “foreign” view (Minnesota). I actually think Prism does a pretty good job reporting on ag issues.

Dave Van Loh
Westbrook, Minn.