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WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Congressman Daniel Rostenkowski (D-III.) is recognized as Chicago's Mayor Daley's spokesman in Washington. He is a persuasive, handsome representative of a heavily Polish area of Chicago, and would probably be good on the corporation farm issue. This would come from his years of participation in a working coalition of family farmers and city and union people; this, despite the fact that Chicago is the headquarters for many corporations that own farms.
Congressman Phil Landrum (D-Ga.) gained fame as an originator of the Landrum-Griffin Bill which became known as the Labor Reporting and Disclosure Act, and was widely condemned by organized labor. However, his service and votes have tended to grow more progressive. He was blocked from membership on the Rules Committee by Medicare forces. He gained his position on the Ways and Means Committee only after he decided to favor Medicare.
Congressman Charles A. Vanik (D-Ohio) is fighting an uphill battle for re-election. Riots in Cleveland, his home, have hurt his chances. If he succeeds, he will have a powerful position in Congress, as well as in Cleveland politics.
Congressman Richard Fulton (D-Tenn.) was elected after running on a “Medicare” platform with liberal-labor-urban backing. He represents Nashville and is a strong liberal. He is a bright and forceful fighter for the causes in which he believes.
Congressman Jacob Gilbert (D-N.Y.) is one of the best New York Congressmen, from the Bronx, and is a lawyer who formerly worked for the City of New York and then served in the state legislature. He has a very liberal voting record.
On the Republican side, Congressman John W. Byrnes (R-Wis.) comes from conservative Northeastem Wisconsin. He has an excellent reputation and is strongly entrenched with a safe majority. He is a quiet and forceful conservative.
Congressman James Utt (R-Calif.) has long been associated with the citrus industry in Orange County. He is very conservative and would be a good bet to lead any fight in behalf of the corporation farms.
Congressman Jackson E. Betts (R-Ohio) is former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. He is a lawyer, conservative, and has some rural areas in his district with a good many family farms.
Congressman Herman Schneebeli (R-Pa.) is a staunch rural conservative whose district is heavily populated with family farmers. He has usually lined up with the Farm Bureau, or Farmers Association, as it is called in Pennsylvania.
THE CORPORATE INVASION OF AMERICAN AGRICULTURE
Congressman Harold Collier (R-I11.), of the suburban Chicago area, has important associations with its financial power structure. Many wealthy suburbanites in his district are in buying clubs to purchase farms in Illinois and lowa. He can be expected to vote against tax reform and down the Farm Bureau line.
Congressman Joel Broyhill (R-Va.), from the Virginia bedroom area of Washington, D. C., has a reputation of being a hard-hitting independent conservative. He would be tough to win over for tax reform.
Congressman James Battin (R-Mont.) is a conservative who has resisted pressures from home to liberalize his voting record. He is very conservative and has had backing from some right wing groups.
Congressman Barber Conable (R-N.Y.) represents Rochester and adjacent areas. He is lawyer and a conservative.
Congressman George Bush (R-Tex.) is an in-member of the Houston establishment. He is an attractive conservative Congressman who could be expected to fight on the barricades to retain the oil depletion allowance.
Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee are elected by the Democratic Caucus. The Caucus has only rarely rejected a candidate sponsored by the regional caucus of Democratic members.
On the Republican side, the members are selected by the Republican leadership through their Republican Steering Committee. No liberal or progressive Republican has been nominated to the House Ways and Means Committee in recent history.
The big corporations have strong lobbying forces in Washington. These forces include many former Congressmen and Cabinet members and subordinate officials. One large corporation has forty staff members on its Washington staff to work on legislative and governmental relations. The corporations have a great deal of money which can make life easy for a Congressman who helps, or even who does nothing against, business interests and tax loopholes.
Beyond the tax favoritism that fills the coffers of the corporations, political favoritism permits them to concentrate and enlarge their strength in violation of the Nation's anti-monopoly laws.
The Federal Trade Commission slaps their hands, when it should handcuff them. The Justice Department convicts them of "crimes" under the law, but no penalties are ordered. Government bureaus, such as the National Labor Relations Board, find them guilty of discrimination and intimidation which amounts to blackmail of their employees, yet cannot apply the same rule the criminal court administers in similar cases where individuals are involved.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
We need old laws enforced in order to deal with the power and ruthlessness of corporate America, and we need some new laws, too.
It hardly needs to be said here, but a major goal of Farmers Union will continue to be maintaining and improving basic farm legislation embodied in the Agriculture Act of 1965.
It must be strengthened with such new sections as farm bargaining. Adequate funding must be sought for enforcement of its provisions.
We must not forget, however, that such legislation simply does not get the job done as long as farmers face the corporate invader.
We must, through cooperative action, challenge corporate America in the market places.
Only after we have organized, developed our alliances, and applied bonds of restraint to the corporate forces, can we take effective action directly against them.
This action may mean that we will have to boycott products that are manufactured by conglomerate corporations that are going into farming in competition with family farmers.
It may mean building new cooperatives. It may mean that co-ops and main street businessmen should not handle certain products such as Gates rubber V-belts and tires, Heinz soups, etc.
We are talking here about direct action against the corporations. Farmers are not afraid to fight. But self-preservation suggests they should try to fight battles that can be won.
There is much talk about farm bargaining, and there cannot be any question that this strikes at the heart of the problem. Farmers have made many efforts to bargain directly, even without the necessary legislative authority. The logic in many of these efforts is that farmers--like industrial and construction workers--can bargain by withholding the things they have to sell until the price is right.
There are several flaws in this logic. One, farm products are not the same as the products working people (hands and skills) have to sell. Two, the market for farm products is not the same as the market situation faced by a union member.
Before direct bargaining can succeed, the important pre-bargaining work we have discussed must be done. We must seek broad legislative authority to bargain. This legislation would be comparable to--recognizing the essential differences of agricultural products--the National Labor Relations Act that protects wage earners.
We must strengthen our forces and restrain the power of the corporation
THE CORPORATE INVASION OF AMERICAN AGRICULTURE
When a farm product is ready for market, the farmer has an enormous "short-term investment" in it. The working man's only "investment” in his product is a long-term investment. He has received training, served an apprenticeship, or gained experience and seniority over a long period. No immediate payoff beyond the welfare of himself and his family is necessary.
But the farmer has much greater pressure on him--generally from the bank or other lending institutions, as well as from the implement dealer and supplier.
Therefore, an essential part of the farmer's effort to control the conditions of sale of his products must be to enlarge his control over the market system through cooperatives. These cooperatives must include processing, and perhaps in some instances, distribution of products. They must at the very least provide alternative marketing routes. The only alternative for the farmer must not be to hold his product until it rots, spoils, or deteriorates.
The reason farmers must have “alternatives” in the market place is that the buying side of the market has alternatives. Pitting farmers--fragmented into thousands of units--against this kind of power is comparable to requiring “local unions” to bargain only with regional or national industries. The end of such "bargaining"--and it could hardly be called that--is inevitable. The local union loses.
The farmer should not confine his direct action against corporate America to the market system, of course. He must also exert pressure to have some control over the prices he pays. If he doesn't, corporate America will get what it loses in the marketing system by simply raising prices of the things the farmer buys. Remember, corporate America is one system, related by blood, common stock and interlocks.
New interest must develop in cooperatives for supplies and equipment. This, too, must provide alternative routes through which farmers can make purchases.
We have suggested some possible defenses against the corporate forces that are invading rural America.
Whatever those defenses are to be--or if they are to be--they must be erected by rural America.
Stated in military terms, what we have suggested is that we must organize our troops, cultivate our allies, weaken the enemy's sources of supply, and intercept his supply lines.
Are you, brothers and sisters, ready to save rural America?
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