Guest Column: Farm policy needs to keep our dollars here

World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are programs that currently serve only as subsidies for large multi-national corporations. Contrary to the political statements of our leaders, these programs have done little, if anything, to improve the welfare of the United States general population. Importation of cheap foreign manufactured items benefits only the manufacturer and importer. We are using loaned money from Saudi Arabia and China to purchase oil and merchandise. We have allowed foreign countries to dictate United States economic policy.

Article I. Section 8 of the Constitution reads, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States: but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

Is the fact that our Congress has not adhered to the above grounds for impeaching these elected officials? Through their dereliction, all except the extremely wealthy are suffering.

We are allowing large multi-national corporations to force the value of our agricultural products down to world prices. If we, in fact, are the world’s largest producer, we need to lead on world price, not follow. We must allow our farmers an honest and fair return on their large capital investment.

We allow the oil-producing countries to dictate our domestic price.

“What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?”

—Lincoln’s Cooper Institute Address, Feb. 27, 1860

That was then. The new conservative adherence to the old and tried are no bid cost plus defense contracts to their friends. We can stop all subsidy payments to farmers by simply allowing the farmers to operate under the same cost plus programs of the defense contractor. We need parity pricing and restriction of imports through tariffs.

Abraham Lincoln, right toward the end of the Civil War, had a meeting with his economic advisers. They were planning to finish the transcontinental railroad. And Lincoln’s economic advisers advised him to buy the rails from England because we could get them cheaper than we could get them in America. Lincoln thought about this for a minute, and he replied: “You know, it seems to me that if we buy the rails from England, then we’ve got the rails, and they’ve got our money. But if we build the rails here, we’ve got our rails, and we’ve got our money.”

We can grow the cotton, weave the cloth, and manufacture the clothing. We pay the farmer, weaver, seamstress and the retail store. We have the clothing, and the money is still all here.

We can grow the crops, raise the livestock and process the food. Why are we importing food from foreign countries?

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

—Lincoln’s First Annual Message to Congress, Dec. 3, 1861

Do we wish to have a viable farming program producing our foodstuffs, or are we willing to sacrifice our farmers and food security to the low-cost foreign producers? These countries are being driven to export foodstuffs to pay for their imports, many times at the expense of the nutrition of their own population.

Richard Kanak is a resident of Cherry Valley.

From the June 21-27, 2006, issue

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