Recently 29 farm organizations met in St. Louis for a National Agricultural Summit hosted by National Farmers Union. Among the consensus forged on a number of issues facing family farms today was one of critical importance. Under principles of agreement on concentration is the following statement: "We call for development and implementation of national legislation prohibiting unjust or unreasonable conduct by a business that is in a dominating position in contracting, supplying or buying agricultural goods or services."
Whether we approve or not, agricultural contracts are fast becoming a way of life for farmers who produce everything from livestock to specialty grains to vegetables on contract. A good example of the inequities in present contracts is that of poultry producers.
According to the May 9 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, former state legislator and current Washington County Judge Jerry Hunton, who grows 250,000 chickens at a time, wouldn't be able to keep the family farm if he relied on farm income alone.
An article by Russell L. Lamb, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in the May 17 issue of Feedstuffs contains the following statements, "In spite of the weakness elsewhere in livestock, poultry producers had a good year in 1998, benefiting from lower feed costs and relatively strong prices for their output. Prices for broilers rose about 7% in 1998, averaging dose to 63 cents/lb., allowing for healthy profits by producers." Mr. Lamb is referring to profits by processors, not the farmers who actually grow the product.
Australia recently amended their Trade Practices Act to prohibit unconscionable conduct by a business that is in a dominating position in contracts of less than $1 million dollars. Their laws have long prohibited businesses from acting in an unconscionable manner toward consumers, as do ours. It is time to offer farmers the same remedy.
INA YOUNG, Poultry Chairman,
Arkansas Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE)
At this time in history, "corporation" and "corruption", although derived from different roots, could very well be synonymous, and with voters becoming more and more lackadaisical towards Congresses which demonstrate that so many of its members are for sale to the highest bidder, it can't be very long before our "Government of the People" becomes a government of conniving corporate manipulators. As things are today, far too many Senators and Congressmen apparently feel that they owe more to their "important" corporate financiers than they do to us, the "riff-raff" who put them into office.
Our governance by people who, in effect, "owe their souls to the company store" cannot get any better until we wean our "representatives" away from their dependence on corporate money and get enough intellectually honest people on the Supreme Court bench who will acknowledge that there's a world of difference between a seventy-five cent high-school cheerleader's megaphone and a five-hundred dollar electronic amplifier.
And it's time that we let Congress in on that dirty little secret.
Franklin Park, Ill.
Apparently many fail to realize that until we see some major campaign finance reforms, our government will continue to be corrupted by what boils down to legalized bribery. Having a government that is truly by and for "the people" would necessarily involve some major changes in campaign finance laws, which apparently our politicians don't seem to find desirable. It would be much better for the people if our major political contenders would participate in a series of public debates and not be allowed to accept donations, nor to spend any money at all for advertising.
Politicians are supposed serve the people, not big money.
"The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no church property anywhere in any state or in the nation should be exempt from equal taxation, for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community." (James A. Garfield, 20th U.S. President (1881), as a Congressman in 1874; Congressional Record vol. 2, part 6, p. 5384.)
I am so fed up with the self-righteousness of U.S. churches and their constant attempts to impose their rigid ideas of morality on the rest of us that refuse to be churched. The way they defy the constitution (with the subservience of a weak-minded Congress) is a disgrace. Not only do they have property-tax exemptions but salaried chaplains in Congress and in the armed forces. They also have the cooperation of the media in spreading the myth that only church goers are good citizens. It turns my stomach to see the pious posturings of all these TV evangelists who beg for money and then interfere in politics to gain more privileges.
It is about time that free-thinkers and agnostics oppose these hypocrites and their congressional flunkies. We need a non-Christian coalition to expose these would-be theocrats. They are a creeping infection in American political and social life.
JAMES F. SCULLY
Mount Carmel, Penn.
Editor Replies: There are plenty of churchgoing Christians who feel the same way, but check out People For the American Way, 2000 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036; phone 800-326-7329.
Aspartame, a sugar substitute chemical manufactured by Monsanto, is now found in some 500 U.S. food and drink products like Diet Pepsi, Diet Cola, and so on.
Dr. Donohue, a physician who writes a syndicated newspaper column, recently had a sad letter which makes a point concerning consumption of Diet Coke:
"My best friend, age 15, is on a wacky diet. All she eats are pickles and Diet Coke. She hasn't had a major growth yet. Is this like anorexia?"
Dr. Donohue made the following reply:
"Your friend's problem surely is anorexia. Alert your friend's eating habits to her parents. She can permanently stunt her growth if someone doesn't rescue her. She will not mature sexually, and she runs the risk of dying."
Recently, World Environmental Conference pointed a finger directly at Monsanto and its product Aspartame. Some of the ailments reported to be from chemical sweetness are the following: fibro-myalgia, spasms, shooting pains, leg numbness, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, jointpain, anxiety, brain malfunction, memory loss. This is Aspartame's Achilles' heel.
Because it is derived from wood alcohol, Aspartame turns into formaldehyde and then fermic acid when it exceeds any temperature above 86 degrees F. This is the chemical fire ants have enabling them to sting animals to death.
This is one reason many Desert Storm veterans are plagued with health problems.
The Army sent pallets loaded with Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi into a desert temperature of 124 degrees F. The troops drank this concoction to keep cool 24 hours a day.
Researchers now suggest that the recent Environmental Protection Agency's announcement of a current epidemic of multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus is related to Aspartame consumption in food and drink.
Certainly everyone ought to avoid Aspartame, i.e., Nutra-Sweet, like the plague.
Past President, Wisconsin Natural Foods Association
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