Letters Spread message about ag prices

To the editor:

The year of 1998 has been filled with news of the struggle for producers to receive fair values of ag commodities. As the struggle intensifies it is inevitable to hear the call for more "harmony and unity" among farm organizations and commodity groups. I believe that this call is made, in part, to try to keep the producers themselves from questioning the methods and the results of people who are supposed to be representing farmers and ranchers.

I want to serve notice that the South Dakota Farmers Union is willing to work with any organization that promotes as its primary focus a "fair, profitable price of farmers and ranchers livestock." There can be no room for compromise on this issue and consequently there may be further separation between some organizations.

The failed policies of the past have had one common thread: cheap wholesale prices. The encouragement to plant and expand without sound economic reward for producers has devastated our rural communities. The drive to import grain and livestock in the name of "global trade," to replace the loss of domestic production caused by low prices and unstable and unfair markets is designed by the companies who benefit from margins on the volume of trade regardless of the consequence to producers. Call the policies by any name you want and they have added up to huge advantages for the buyers of our commodities, and tremendous losses for the sellers and producers of grain and livestock.

We may never achieve total "unity" of ag organizations. We have, however, found the pulse of the producers. Actions like RCALF, CLF, the Farm Journal poll on "freedom to farm" in places like Aberdeen last year and Sioux Falls this week have provided opportunity for news reporters to honestly hear the views of many of the farmers and ranchers themselves. The vast majority of producers know and believe that the message that must be heard and addressed is the price of our production.

Those of us who lead state and national efforts to inform the consumer of our situation are tired of the media treating the few voices of producers who still cling to "trickle down economics" as if they were speaking for any credible portion of agriculture. The unity that many call for already exists. Go to an RCALF meeting, get to a place where producers gather, you can't help but hear the one voice of agriculture calling for fair markets … fair trade … and I am calling for fair reporting of that voice. Producers have known all along what was needed, and it is my job as vice president of the South Dakota Farmers Union to be sure that they are heard. We are in touch with producers and have no doubt as to the message. Who will join our efforts?

Phil Cyre

vice president

South Dakota Farmers Union


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