Calling for Investigation into Farm Bureau
The declaration issued today "calls for a congressional investigation into charges that American Farm Bureau Federation national leadership has harmed the American farmer and their own members by posing as an organization representing farmer interests when, in fact, Farm Bureaus widespread commercial activities -- which include the operation of businesses that sell to the farmer and buy from the farmer -- puts them in a position of representing a point of view antagonistic to the interests of the farmer. We further call for investigation into charges that Farm Bureau leadership also misrepresents its motivations to Congress and the American taxpayer -- exploiting the farmer image to win, from Congress, non-profit "privileges" that shield them from an estimated $61.75 million annually in federal income tax. We urge Congress to complete the process started a generation ago (by the current Chief of the National Security Council Sandy Berger) and protect rural America and its heritage."
MRCC President and Missouri farmer Bill Christison spoke at the press conference announcing the coalition of organizations calling for a congressional investigation. "The Farm Bureau thwarts economic and social justice in this country by supporting legislation like the Freedom to Farm Act and unfair trade policies like GATT and fast track trade authority. This policy position has underwritten unprecedented corporate profits and solidified a system that allows corporate greed to run unbridled."
Roger Allison, Howard County farmer and MRCC member, explains his with the Farm Bureau. "If there is one thing Ive learned in all my years in fighting for family farms, its that the Farm Bureau comes down on the wrong side of almost every issue. When farmers out here in the countryside are demanding legislation that would end agribusiness mergers or ban packers from owning livestock, the Farm Bureau aligns itself with corporate agribusiness to beat back the farmer message."
Missouri farmers question other Farm Bureau policies including investment in corporations like Premium Standard Farms. PSF is a corporate factory farm hog producer that has never made a profit since its inception, while driving family farmers out of business through overproduction. Farm Bureau is opposed to the Voting Rights Act, one of the cornerstones of legislation passed during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Farm Bureau lobbies for increased corporate subsidies to crop insurance companies, of which Farm Bureau makes millions of dollars every year.
MRCC member and farmer Rhonda Perry opposes the Farm Bureaus package of policies. "If the Farm Bureau wants to go to Washington, D.C., and state capitals and lobby for an agenda like this, they need to do it as the corporate-driven insurance company that they are, not as the voice of the American family farmer. They dont represent us."
This call for investigation is being released on the heels of Sundays "60 Minutes" investigation and expose of the Farm Bureau, bringing attention to the Farm Bureaus lack of accountability to its members and the American public in general.
|Published in In Motion Magazine - April 17, 2000
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