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Congressional apathy hurting U.S. farmers

CONGRESS has demonstrated extreme apathy by failing to take actions to pull agriculture out of a worsening depression, says a Caddo County, Okla., peanut farmer.

Floyd King stood up at the recent Southwestern Peanut Growers' Assoc-iation annual meeting in Wichita Falls, Texas, to blast congressional inactivity.

"To do nothing for agriculture is appalling," King said. "They raised labor rates but failed to consider ramifications for farmers.

"We don't have anyone (in Congress) who understands and supports agriculture anymore," he said.

King pointed to changes in the peanut program, enacted as part of the Freedom to Farm act, as detrimental to peanut farmers and to the rural communities where they live.

"They cut price support by 10 percent over seven years and raised labor rates. Common sense will tell you that hurt agriculture."

King said farmers have been forced into a desperate situation by a Congress unwilling to make changes to a failed farm policy.

"I would like to see other commodities, corn, wheat, etc., get behind change," he said. "Congress has to change the way it thinks about agriculture."

King said the added clout that major commodity organizations could exert would force legislators to pay attention and "think about agriculture and price supports."

He said current low commodity prices and the erratic nature of grain, cotton and livestock prices could spur interest in program revisions that would bring stability back to agriculture and to rural America.

"We tried to enlist help from other commodities before," he said, "but prices for other commodities were up at the time and they wanted to be able to plant more acreage. Now, we're all in the same boat."

King said Congress must recognize a need to "overhaul all agriculture. We've lost a lot of peanut farmers in the last six years because of apathy in Congress."

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