Crisis the low prices, suicide rates of farmers
Crisis Among UsThe farm crisis in America has struck millions of families. The devastation of low crop prices and the declining livestock prices has driven many families to poverty, or worse. Many Americans do not realize the affect of low prices on farmers, or the flooding of farmland.The flooding of farmlands in northeastern South Dakota has caused many farmers to move off of their land.
The Government has recently declared it a disaster area and started buying back much of the swallowed land. Yet, government help does not solve all the emotional problems. Many farmers have done nothing but farm, how are they supposed to support their families with no other work background.Not only is flooding a problem, but livestock prices is also an issue. Many livestock owners are unable to receive the price they deserve because of the low priced meat coming from Canada. Many businesses would rather pay less for a product, not caring that it affects area farmers. Governor Janklow had put a stop to the low priced meat from entering the state.
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This stop only helped the farmers a little bit.Low grain prices are the talk of the crisis. Prices of grain are lower than what they were in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression (Williams 8). Soybeans have hit their lowest price since 1972, about four dollars a bushel. This is less than most farmers’ cost of production. Worldwide prices of wheat are at their lowest levels, yet Canadian grain farmers receive fewer price supports than the US and Europe.
The drought in Montana has caused prices to slump. With the Canadian export policies ad the 1996 Freedom of Farmers Act has painfully decreased US subsidies to grain farmers. Since the low prices, suicide rates of farmers have gone up. A widow from Iowa wrote a letter to the governor that states “I am convinced from evidence in our house that my husband listened to the grain markets at noon, as he usually did, heard them go lower, then committed suicide. His letter reads: ‘The only thing I will regret is leaving the children and you. This farming has brought me a lot of memories, some happy, but most of grief (True Grit).’ ” This was typical of many farmers.
In Canada, a farmers watch was set up. The local farmers would call their neighbors to check up on them. A crisis hotline had also been set up for families to call in.The ever-growing popularity of hog farming is also an issue. Many people fear the contamination of ground water by the hogs. Now, in South Dakota, farmers have to get an okay from the state before they can begin their farms.
Many of the hog farms have been shut down by the state, causing families to make a change, both financially and physically. Last year, the prices of pork fell to just eight dollars a hundred weight (True Grit).Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura recently wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton about the current farm crisis.
In the letter Ventura states “The Ventura administrations not insensitive to crisis, but I have a strong belief that no matter what the situation, elected officials must remember that it’s tax payers’ money that is being spent, relief should clearly be targeted to those most in need.” He also states ” Otherwise billions of dollars in federal farm relief could go to ‘ corporations and non-farming landowners and bypass the small farms, where the greatest short-term needs exist.’ ” (deFiebre)The poverty stricken farmers in North Dakota are losing their farms. Over 30 farmers have lost their farms this year to foreclosure. In Iowa, the number of farm debt fights has doubled since last year (Kilman). Many Americans have experience poverty in some way, but how many of those people have never lost their homes, their land and their family members.
Not many people can understand the poverty stricken families. The summer of 1998, June 1st to be exact, I was able to learn what it was like. I was part of the Lutheran Disaster Response team that headed to western South Dakota to help area ranchers.
Seeing the families barely hanging on was tough. Many of them could not even afford to fix the damages left behind by the blizzard the previous year. Knowing these families makes it tough to see how the farm problem is affecting so many people.The importing of goods has dropped the market well below normal. If the US would use their own agriculture, they would have enough to feed the entire nation, but instead they import goods from other countries and cause farmers to lose money. The US does not see the ever-growing poverty among the farmers as a problem, it seems as if they just don’t care.
If we were to use our corn to produce gasoline, we can save the economy money, this way they do not have to import gasoline. By using ethanol, it also helps reduce pollution caused by cars.The US could benefit greatly by using their own products, instead of importing. If the US would do that, our farming communities would thrive and poverty would be reduced greatly due to job increases. Work-citedCarlson, Coralie.
Farmers Rally in Washington, Seek Change in Policy. Star Tribune. 14 September 1999DeFiebre, Conraad. Ventura Letter to Clinton Expounds on Farm Policy. Star Tribune. 21 September 1999Kilman, Scott.
The Deepening Farm Crisis causes heartache and tension. The Wall Street Journal. 17 August 1999: A1.True Grit. The Economist. 28 August 1999: 21Williams, Florence. Great Plains Dispatch: Farmed Out.
The New Republic. 16 August 1999: 8