Letter to the Editor: Government leadership has let farmers down

To the Editor:

Our government leadership has mixed reviews among American farmers. The big promises of 2016 have yet to come true. The disastrous trade deal with China caused the farmers to lose market value on corn, soybeans and livestock. A “go it alone attitude”, without engaging our allies, cost us our markets to those same allies, as well as other commodity suppliers. Our markets have still not recovered.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue tossed out, on his first day, a bipartisan reform on ag market contracts that had taken years to complete. When speaking at a town hall at The World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin, Perdue showed his callous disregard for small farms. He was quoted as saying there was no guarantee that small farms will survive, saying, “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out.” He said farmers should stop whining.

The denial of Climate Change, and allowing Big Oil to apply for the “hardship waivers” meant for small refineries, to not add ethanol to their blends, shows a lack of support for farmers and great support for Big Oil. This action destroyed the Iowa ethanol industry.

The biggest insult to American farmers has been the 5.6 billion dollar Corona Virus Food Assistance Program. Analysis by NBC News shows that the USDA payments favored the large ag industrial corporations over the small, diversified farmers, provided loopholes for corporate farms and even paid $3.6 million to foreign-owned operations.

The top 10 percent received more than 60 percent of the payments, averaging $95,000.00 each. The bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent, averaging $300.00.

A total of 2,300 farms received more than the payment limit of $250,000.00; six farms received more than a million dollars each. A total of 7,000 farms received less than $200.00, and the lowest payment was 0.07 - that’s seven cents.
Corn, cattle and dairy received 80 percent of the $5.6 billion. Some farmers were excluded completely, either because their crops were not eligible, or due to payment calculations.

So, if you are a small farmer because it’s your life choice, then consider carefully, and vote for your survival.

Ann Klees
Waterville

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