It's the small farmer who was left behind

Friday, March 2, 2007

Dear Editor:

I read the letter to the editor from the president of the Dairy Association titled "Missouri left behind." He complained that since 1970 dairy production is down due to over-regulation. I don't remember it that way.

In 1968 my brother returned from the service and partnered with my father in the dairy business with 200 acres and 100 head of dairy cattle. I was in high school, and we all worked hard dawn till after dark but couldn't compete with the bigger operations and sold out in seven years.

The way we remember it the reason for this declining production isn't because of over-regulation of corporate farms but corporate farms lowering prices and pushing the small farmer out.

THE SMALL FARMER WAS LEFT BEHIND . . . by the Dairy Association in 1970. All my brothers moved from the farm to the city. The small farmer had little representation then and none in government or the Farm Bureau today. Oddly my brother and his wife took part-time jobs at a chicken plant to make ends meet and ends didn't meet.

Any small farmer would be quick to see that these (so called) farms are self-serving, wealthy under-regulated industries with huge political support. They offer inferior products, caging and concentrating livestock, while protecting their own pollution by lobbying for less regulation and foreign employment.

Now, as they always will, they write asking the small farmer for his or her support for a farm bill limiting regulation and lawsuits on corporate farming in the guise of protecting the small farm.

Where was the dairy association in 1970 when we needed support? I suggest they were in the pockets of industry and still are.

This Farm Bill in my opinion is all about supporting a few wealthy industries corrupt farming practices. It is high time they were held accountable and not protected by the small farmer.


Larry McIlrath

Joplin, Missouri