Dear President Reagan: You're Creating a Farm & Food Crisis
On Open Letter by Neil Young
His great-Grandpa worked this farm. His Grandpa worked it and his Daddy worked it. He’s thirty years old. His wife and children at his side, he stands in the window of the old farmhouse. A car comes up the driveway. A man in a suit is behind the wheel, his briefcase at his side. Today is the last day for this family farm. Tomorrow is foreclosure day.
President Reagan, in many ways, you have been a great leader. Today, as you read this, your advisors are telling you that America must be strong. America must compete in the world food markets. THey advise you to keep prices way down, lower than ever. Do you know that this is killing the family farm? And that only the large conglomerate farm units will survive?
Mr. President, you have a decision to make. Will the farmer be replaced by the farm operator? Will the family farm in America die as a result of your administration? Will the family system in America be dealt a fatal blow right at the core, sending tremor of fear through every small family business in America? What will this do to the American spirit?
Pictures of your family are neatly framed in the Oval Office, showing your love and and reminding you of why you took on the great task of making America strong again. At the end of the day, your wife looks you in the eye and tells you she believes in you. All over America, farmer’s wives so the same. But sleep does not come easily for you tonight--nor does it for them.
As we sell our low-priced food products to the world market, we undercut the family farmers in those countries, forcing them out of business. they turn to cash crop such as textiles and other non-food related products in an effort to earn money to buy American food. must we destroy their native food chains and their family farmers along with it? What happens if we have a drought, or some other act of God that ruins our corps here at home? Then we have to raise our world food prices. What will our world food customers do with no native food and not enough money to buy ours? Consider the consequences for America and for the families of the world.
Senator Tom Harkin has a bill, the Harkin *Farm Policy Reform Act of 1985. FarmAid and the family farmers of America consider this to be the only way to save the family farm. It does not increase the deficit and it passes on only a 3.5% cost increase to the American consumer. It raises the price of a loaf of bread by only one penny. It costs the taxpayer less than any other policy idea presented at this time. We urge you to stand beside us and save the family farm.
The Harkin *Farm Policy Reform Act of 1985 comes to a vote in Congress three days after the FarmAid concert. All Americans interested in preserving our American family system should call their Congressman by Tuesday, September 24, 1985, in support of this bill.
To the American people, and the President of the United States, we say: Save the family farm. God bless you all.
Neil Young for Farm Aid
Paid for by Neil Young
(Full Page Advertisement, 9/21/85, USA Today)
The letter was read at Farm Aid I, in Champaign Illinois, September 22, 1985, by Timothy Hutton, as shown on the YouTube video here: (or here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY5x8pF512k)
*The ad got the name of the legislation wrong, calling it "the Harkin Policy Farm Reform Act of 1985." This has been corrected in the text above. The correct name was "Farm Policy Reform Act."
See more information about the 1985 legislation see my historical farm bill videos here at YouTube on my "Farm Bill and Food Bill" playlist (or here: http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767).
For more information about this legislation today see my Farm Bill Primer, here, (or here: http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/bradwilson).
See essentially the same legislation, updated for today: National Family Farm Coalition's (nffc.net) Food from Family Farms Act, here: (or here: http://www.nffc.net/Learn/Fact%20Sheets/FFFA2007.pdf)
*Central to the bill were provisions to raise commodity price floors (today, bring back the price floors removed in 1996,) and improve supply management on the bottom side of price, thus totally eliminating the government-created need for farm subsidies. On the top side, to protect consumers and processors, the bill called for strategic grain reserves and price ceilings.