There is a crisis in agriculture today. The prices received for wheat, corn, etc., are lower today than they were in 1948. The debt load of American farmers and ranchers has increased $17 billion in 1978. Each time we sell a bushel of wheat or corn below our cost of production, we lose some of the equity we have built in our farms.
Agriculture has always bought retail, sold wholesale and paid the freight both ways. This country is doing the very same thing when we buy imported oil at full price and sell the agriculture commodities produced with that fuel for below the cost of production.
The statement made by Ht Washington Post that it did not want to see increased commodity prices because it would cause the price of land to increase touches upon one of the major problems we face. Agriculture commodities have been at near-depression levels for the past few years. The price of land has continued to increase. We are not able to pay 1979 land prices with the money received from commodities sold at below 1948 prices.
The price of land is affected by inflation, the value of the American dollar and the very fact that it is a limited resource. Depressing agriculture prices in an effort to hold down land prices is the ostrich approach.
The media has floundered in an attempt to categorize the farmers in Washington by age, type of commodity they produce, or length of involvement in agriculture. The only honest way to describe the farmers involved in the American Agriculture Movement is to say they are farmers trying to provide for their families by working on their farms and ranches. It has been stated by some individuals that we represent a small portion of agriculture producers and that the industry as a whole is in excellent condition. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The individuals who drove tractors, campers or flew to Washingon could not afford to do so without the help of many friends, businesses and fellow farmers. Those supporters could not afford the time necessary to bring our story to Washington. They have been working at home, helping financially, helping take care of our farms and lending moral support. The silent majority at home has been helping to tell the same story the tractors have been here to tell: There is a problem in agriculture!
We feel the need to work toward higher prices must be dealt with now. Our immediate solution is full implementation of the 1977 Farm Bill.
If some of our actions seem brash or aggressive, it is only our way of displaying frustration with a system that seems to listen only to itself. We have brought our story to the people. The need to get your attention was paramount. We all hope and pray that the people and the Congress act now, before the destruction of American agriculture becomes a tragic reality.
We have a slogan that aptly describes the way we feel: "If you are not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem!" The problem is obvious. It is easy to criticize. We have yet to hear any constructive wuggestions. We need a solution now.