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August 02, 1972 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-08-02

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Page Eight


Wednesday, August 2, 1972


Farm report calls

Mr. Brewster is a Washington
based writer who contributes to
agricultural a n d historical
NI)-A report now circulating
within the Department of Agri-
culture threatens to cause an
uproar on the farm front and
could have major consequences
for the nation's taxpayers and
rural poor.
The report, "New Directions
for U. S. Agricultural Policy,"
written by 15 young USDA ex-
ecutives, is one of the latest re-
sults of an intense - but little
publicized - debate in the De-
partment that will help deter-
mine the future of American

It calls for defining a new
program that would cut the to-
tal number of farms by almost
half, and proposes scrapping the
price support programs that
have been cornerstones of
federal farm policy for almost
40 years.
The Department, which offic-
ially has disavowed connection
with the 43-page report, is un-
likely even to discuss the re-
commendations publicly during
the election year.
Under the current definition,
a 'farm is an operation of 10
acres or more that sells at least
$50 worth of agricultural pro-
ducts a year. If a place is
smaller than 10 acres it must
sell $250 worth of goods to be
counted in census tabulations.
The report's authors argue

that this
ment give
of Americ
nomic po
public pol
farms to
that do n
worth of a
In 1970,
than $500
to almost
counted f
cent of the
al sales a
of their i
time opera

for sweeping
standard of measure- riculture has) given the public
s a distorted picture the mistaken belief that the
an agriculture's eco- welfare of these people was be-
sition and leads to ing adequately cared for," the
icy that is "less than report says. "It is likely this
had tended to discourage the
they would redefine development of programs out-
eliminate all places side the scope of agriculture
ot sell at least $5000 . . . that were and are needed
gricultural goods each to assist low-income rural peo-
operations with less The report's recommendations
0 in sales amounted are based on the premise that
half of the nation's American agriculture should be
farms. But they ac- considered an industry, not a
or only about 5 per way of life, and that its well-
e country's agricultur- being should- be judged by the
nd actually got most returns it gives on resources
ncome from nonfarm rather than by the income it
provides to individual farmers:
ting poor and part- The study's authors maintain
tions from the census that poverty and rural welfare
t7 ionms fo tecensusA problems cannot be dealt with

cabinet - level official w h a
would be specifically charged
with solving them.
As for commercial agriculture,
the report says, "Income from
farming should be of concern
only to the extent that it af-
fects the industry's ability to
produce efficiently adequate
supplies rof food and fiber."
According to the report, cur-
rent farm programs - the
price support program and di-
rect payments to farmers -
keep the cost of food artifically
high by preventing the free
flow of commodities into the
marketplace. They also hinder
the movement of agricultural
operatiors into low cost areas.
Moreover, because payments
are made on the basis of a
farm's production potential,

" e1:15
Shown atf
4 P.M.
DIAL 662-6164

count would automatically raise
the average annual farm income
from $5,833 to $10,617. The fi-
gure could be boosted even
higher - to $14,819 a year -
- by adding the income that
farmers earn from nonfarm
The report's authors also be-
lieve that a redefinition of
farms would focus attention on
the economic needs of low-in-
come rural residents.
"By identifying these people
as 'farmers' and having public
program, to upport farm in-
sine, (the Department of Ag-

"The report's recommendations are based
on the premise that American agriculture
should be considered an industry, not a way of
life, and that its well-being should be judged
by the returns it gives on resources rather than
by the income it provides to industrial farmers."

as a part -of .agricultural policy
but should, instead, be handled
under the direction of a new

This is Newsprint.

Harm less looking isn't it?

_ ,._ . ,

they do little to help the small
farmer, but go instead to large
producers who can thus earn
greater returns on their re-
sources than they could else-
where in the economy.
For these reasons, the report
recommends abolishing price
support and payment programs
over a five year period.
The authors say this would
save $6 billion that the public
now pays to support, the farm
sector through taxes and high
food prices. Farmers would suf-
fer a corresponding loss in in-
According to the report, such
an income reduction would
cause an accelerated decline in
the number of farms and an in-
crease in contractual agree-
ments between producers and
The study maintains, how-
ever, that the family farm
would continue as the basic unit
of U.S. agricultural production
after the policy changes, al-
though it would be a larger,
more sophisticated enterprise
than at present.
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