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October 02, 1979 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-02

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'age 4-Tuesday, October 2, 1979-The Michigan Daily
0 The Sirbian tai
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom

Congress' great water war

By Mary Ellen Leary

Vol. LXXXX, No. 23

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

AATA: A new 'system to

cure massI
providing inefficient service to the
Ann Arbor community, the Ann Arbor
Transportation Authority (AATA) has
undergone a serious reassessment of
the local population's transportatioi
needs. And now, following a long
AATA technical study and years of bit-
ter controversy, the transportation
board has finally come up with a sytem
that may solve the city's mass transit,
Instead of the unreliable and incom-
plete service to which local residents
are accustomed, the new changes,
represent a commitment to more rapid
transportation, toward emphasis on
fixed routes. The service had been con-
tinually plagued by inefficiency, as
many rides would run consistently
late, and then would carry just a few
people. The system wasn't cost effec-
tive. N
: As a result of the new changes which
biegan yesterday, there will be five new
fixed bus routes, presenting residents
Nith more convenient and trustworthy
nmass transit. Dial-a-ride will now be
available in Ann Arbor from 7 to 10

tr ansit mess

p.m. on weeknights, and 8:15 to 6:15
p.m. on Sundays. Before the
reevaluation, this privilege was only
extended to the public on weekdays
and Saturdays.
Already, preliminary reports show
that citizens are adjusting well to the
new changes. So far, there has been a
minimum of problems as bus drivers
reported that buses were arriving at
transfer points on schedule. In ad-
dition, some drivers have said that
their riders all made their transfers to
other buses on time and were arriving
downtown 15 minutes faster than they
would have under the old system.
The new changes do include a slight
reduction in the amount of service
because of budget constraints, but
those reductions seem more practical
than keeping the whole service intact.
Previously, there had been a big waste
of money as very few riders would be
on each bus.
The new system still needs more
time before it can undergo a serious
and detailed study, but at this time, it
seems that AATA will finally escape
from the constant criticism leveled by
the local community.
,r e u e
care of essential business. And with all
the talk of a malaise in America, it
seems as if the real malaise is in the
halls of Congress, not the streets of
middle America.
Congress has enough tasks for this
fall session without stockpiling the left
-over business from summer. The
SALT treaty, is still being held
hostage by an insignificant Soviet
training brigade in Cuba and a
coalition of even more dangerous
defense hawks, demogagues and
treaty opponents armed with rhetoric.
And the energy package continues to
die a slow death of chronic unattention.
The House and Senate conferees
should disagree - that's what checks
and balances are all about: But the
disagreement has now taken a sharp
turn for the ridiculous, and Congress
must stop its senseless bickering and
get back to business, before the
ridiculous deteriorates into the

Western corporate-style farm in-
terests have scored a major vic-
tory in Congress in the 77-year-
old battle against the law that
theoretically permits only family
farmers to benefit from federal
water subsidies.
Senate passage of S. 14, in-
troduced by Sen. Frank Church
(D-Idaho) has left the Ad-
ministration somewhat in the
dust. However, a major effort to
win back what was lost is expec-
ted in the House, where the bill is
now pending.
This is a broad political issue
that relates not just to farms but
to land and the individual, and
how they will relate in
tomorrow's America.
the 1902 Reclamation Act claims
to eliminate loopholes that have
let corporations benefit hugely
from the law ostensibly meant for
the family farmer. It expands the
permissible acreage of farms en-
titled to receive federal water
from 160 under the current law to
an average of roughly 1,700
Still labeling this a "family
farm," the bill sets a new limit of
1,280 acres for one owner, but
allows additional land where soil
conditions and growing seasons
are less than ideal. The estimated
average acreage therefore would
be 1,790.
Since government reports show
that 90 per cent of the present in-
dividual farm holdings today in
reclamation districts throughout
the 17 Western states are under
320 acres in size (160 acres each
for husband and wife, in com-
pliance with existing law), S. 14
would insure a major change in
land holdings. The 90 per cent did
not initiate the Church bill; those
with large holdings did. If it
becomes law, multi-thousand-
acre agri-business ownerships
might possibly be terminated,
but every other farm holding in
reclamation districts will be
available for a big expansion,
subject to competitive grabs.
The appropriate size for a
"family farm" receiving tax-
subsidized water is far from set-
tled. Proposals for a limit of 640
acres or 960 acres will be heard in
the House. But some lawmakers
have argued on the Senate floor
that the family farmer' of the
future will need 3,000 acres to
survive, even with subsidized
, water. ,

THIS IS THE first attempt at a
major overhaul of the 1902 law.
Though several moves have been
made in the past to relax its
requirements on landowners,
receiving water from federal
projects, most lost. The principle
that so large a water supply could
only be justified if spread to as
many farmers as possible was
always defended in Congress.
Emerging from the two-day
Senatorial rhetoric are two fun-
damental elements to the
reclamation question: the
staggering size of the annual sub-
sidy whiKh government develop-
ment and transportation of far-
ming water means to individual
ranches - especially huge ran-
ches - and the whole question o
whether "family farms" are suf-
ficiently desirable in American
society to justify protective
government action. The policy
fight focuses on where the large
tax support poured out annually
ought to go.
Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisc.),
who carried the small farm fight
as he has for years, contends that
a 1,280-acre farm in a
reclamation district would draw
an "unconscionable" $63,000 a
year as an average public sub-
sidy. "It's more than 99 per cent
of the people in the U.S. earn a
year," he said.
In addition, Sen. Nelson said,
the bill provides for vastly bigger
subsidies, without any
regulation, to giant operators of
farms on about 2 million acres of
the most productive lands in
California. It does so by ex-
cluding the Imperial Valley,
Kings River and Kern projects
from acreage limitation. -
One 15,000 acre farm now gets
benefits worth $900,000 a year,
according to Sen. Nelson, and a
10,000-acre farm benefits to the
tune of $630,000 a year in the Im-
perial Valley because acreage
limitation is ignored there. The
"reform" bill would, in effect,
legitimize this situation.
Senator S.I. Hayakawa (R. Cal.),
asked, "Why this hostility to suc-
cess in farming?" Why this zeal
for shackling and crippling suc-
cessful enterprise?"
And . Senator Cranston
remarked in debate: "It is true
that many California growers
makei lot of money from their
labors. But since when is it a

crime to make money?"
The effort to revise the
Reclamation law coincides with a
questioning in Washington, for
the first time in decades, about
the social implications in vast
corporate agricultural
businesses as distinguished from
family farming.
Bob Bergland, Secretary of
Agriculture, has begun the first
thorough-going analysis ever un-
dertaken in the U.S. of the "struc-
ture" of American agriculture,
questioning whether taxes,
research, commodity programs
and other public policies are not
inherently favorable to ever-
larger operations and harmful toA
the farmer who works his own
land. This study will surface with
public hearings across the coun-
try this winter.
Large corporate and indepen-
dent landholders have long
operated in violation of the
Reclamation law's provision that
water developed by federal
projects go only to family farms.
abuse in several law suits
brought a series of recent hard-
hitting and consistent judicial
rulings ordering the Department
of the Interior to enforce the law.
Once Secretary Cecil Andrus
issued rules to do that, Western
land-owners started their
"reform" movement, drawing
support from a variety of con-
trary views, opposing the big-
farm voices. The Department of
Intericr put together a coalition
with a wide reach and effective
impact, led largely by the AFL-
CIO but including environmen-
talists, church groups, small
farm supporteres such as
National Land for, People and
some academics. On the last day
United Farm Workers union
leader Cesar Chavez was present
in the Senate outer chambers to
demonstrate his concern over the
Assistant Undersecretary of
Interior Dan Beard described
Administration reaction as the
bill emerged from the Senate:
"It is still a very bad bill,
poorly drafted, full of provisions
we can't tolerate, many of
questionable constitutionality,
and framed on a philosophy e we
feel inappropriate. But on the
whole, we feel encouraged. We
came from ground zero, with
nobody taking our position

seriously, and we knocked out
some of thenworst amendments
attempted to be hung on the,
measure. People who thought we,
were totally unrealistic now.
recognize others share our views.,
The House may reshape this bill.
drastically. We will be working.
towards that end."
President Carter, Beard said,.
"gave us all the support we asked
for", including last-minute lobi
bying help. If passed in an unac-"
ceptable form, he predicted a
presidential veto "and I don'tx
think the Senate could get the.
votes for an over-ride." But the
House,. he hopes, may hold closer
to the 1902 precepts favoring
small family farms.
THE BIG GAIN, Beard em-
phasized, is the awakening of
public interest in the measure
through the Senate fight.
Corey Rosen, staff chief for the
Senate Select Committee on.
Small Business, which has ad-
vocated small-farm legislation
over the years, stressed the same
point: "We have finally brought,
this issue out of the closet. This
has been a secret fight too long. It
ought to be an issue in the
presidential contest." , a
"We have made somq.
progress," said Michael Gildea,
major AFL-CIO lobbyist. "We
pulled out all the stops on the
Senate floor. It was a major fight
and we are going to stick with it.".
Brent Blackwelder, head of the
Coalition for Water Project
Review, drew a number of en-
vironmentalist groups into the
opposition bloc and pledged a
continued interest.
Also involved is the Inter-
religious Task Force on U.S.
Food Policy, headed by Darr
Reeves, a Nebraska farmer and
Quaker. He said support came
from Catholic bishops,.
Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist
and Jewish organizations. "They
see this issue of public subsidies{
and corporate farming in terms
of peoples' effort to have some
control over their own lives and
some dignity in their own labor,"
according to Reeves.
Mary Ellen Leary is the,
author of "Phantom Politics'=
about the 1974 California
governor's race. She is a con-
tributor to The Economist,
A tlantic and Nation. This ar-
ticle was written for Pacific
News Service.

Bck 1 enng ov
ESTERDAY, WAS the first day of
the new fiscal year, and it was
marked by Congress' continued
bickering that so far has left most of
the federal government without a cent
to spend.
The House and Senate cannot agree
on a new 1980 budget because the
members are still wrangling over the
controversial issue of abortion, and the
self-serving issue of how much to raise
their own salaries. And like small
children arguing over the same
lollipop, our elected representatives
could not even agree on a resolution to
allow the government to operate under
the old budget until they could hammer
out a new one.
So with Congress' public approval
rating hovering somewhere lower than
Jimmy Carter's in the polls, there is
small wonder that the public can only
disapprove of a body that cannot get its
own act together long enough to take


From the drawing board.

" .



nfb r TX J Ac'

The following is an editorial from the
student newspaper at the University of
j T HAS BECOME fashionable lately
to deride the student activists of the
60s and early 70s as idealists whose
proposals bore little relation to reality.
But at least one of those proposals was
wise: the abandonment of a formal
student government.
That idea brought an end of the old
Student Senate, the formulation of two
student advocacy groups (now merged
into the Champaign-Urbana Student
Association) and the inclusion of
student members in the restructured
Urbana-Champaign Senate, the cam-
pus' highest academic policy-making
Now that structure has come under
attack fromtwo sides. On one side is a
group of students pressing for an of-
ficial student government to
replace-or at least supersede-CUSA
in its role as informal government. On
the other side is acting Chancellor
John E. Cribbet, calling for a return to
the "Good old days" of two senates.
Caught in the crossfire are the studen-
ts' elected representatives.
While some of those urging a formal
student government may bear per-
sonal grudges against CUSA, their
proposal can be refuted on substantive
grounds. They seem to believe, for

YV1 g~e

An officially recognized student
government would not necessarily
have such independence and
flexibility. While the legal implications
of official University recognition
remain unclear, the government could
conceivably be prevented from suing
the University on behalf of the studen-
ts: Perhaps worse, the government
could suffer the fate of some recent
student trustees, being absorbed into
the University bureaucracy and never
speaking up for its constituents.
CUSA has not suffered that fate and
probably will not. Although it is not
without its faults, its role as an in-
dependent student advocate cannot be
Nor can student input into academic
policy be discarded. If Cribbet's
proposal to split the Senate would
diminish that voice, it deserves no fur-
ther discussion.
It need not be so. The Senate could be
set up along the lines of a bicameral
legislature, with the consent of both
student and faculty houses needed for
action on matters of academic policy
and the campus budget. The two
houses could be separately responsible
for appointing student and faculty
members to various committees, and
the student branch caould have sole
responsibility for enacfing student
disciplinary codes.

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