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BOUNTIFUL DOESN'T EQUAL PROSPERITY FOR FARMERS

In the Aug. 31 News article about President Clinton's visit to New York State, Clinton compared the nation's good economic times to a farmer having a bountiful crop. Part of his quote was, "We've had years of great crops (meaning good economic times for the U.S.), and we've got a lot of money in the bank."

Clinton may have been a Fulbright Scholar, but that analogy deserves an F. It is an embarrassment that the United States has a president who is so ill-informed about agriculture that he would make such a comparison. Prices for wheat and corn are at 20-year lows, below the cost of production. That is not prosperity. Bountiful does not equal prosperity in farm country.

The 1996 farm bill did nothing to stabilize or improve farm prices. Farmers have been told to produce for a global economy but have been faced with the results of NAFTA and WTO decrees. Our own bountiful harvests have brought even less money because of increased imports. Wheat, potatoes and hogs from Canada, beef from Australia and tomatoes from Mexico are examples. These imports can compete because of exchange rates, subsidies or low wages.

Perhaps we should consider Clinton's statement as correct but with a darker twist. Is there a possibility the U.S. economy is as hollow as the bountiful farm economy?

MARLENE SCHOTZ

Wilson

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