Reggie Reynolds, a Virginia cattleman, Richard Moyer, a Virginia poultryman, and President Reagan are in agreement: They all say it's time for Uncle Sam to reduce its role on the American farm.
"We think you should get the government out of agriculture and let the laws of supply and demand take over," said Moyer, executive vice president of the Virginia Poultry Federation. Federal support programs for wheat and corn only push up the cost of feed for poultry farmers, he said.
Reynolds, who runs a cattle farm near Roanoke, is equally upset by the government's efforts to help farmers.
A federal program that paid dairy farmers to reduce milk output forced many to slaughter their dairy cows, causing the value of his own livestock to plummet, he complained.
The two farmers speak for many in Virginia and Maryland who, unlike farmers from the Midwest, are not marching on Washington to protest the president's proposals to end many farm supports.
Reynolds, executive secretary of the Cattleman's Association of Virginia, put it bluntly: "We feel the federal budget is too large, and the reason is that there are too many of these payment programs."
Not all farmers in the Washington area share those sentiments, but the fact that many do is a measure of how large and diverse American agriculture has become.
While the halls of Congress have been filled with protesting farmers from the Midwest, members of Congress from Virginia and Maryland said they have heard little outcry from their constituents over the Reagan administration plans to trim agricultural spending.
"There's been no push among Virginia farmers" for more federal assistance, said Sen. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R-Va.). "I've talked to a lot of Virginia farmers and generally they believe we ought to put an end to those things."
Rep. Herbert H. Bateman (R-Va.), who represents a district that contains many farms, was among a number of legislators from Maryland and Virginia who voted against an emergency farm credit bill this week.
"I had very little, almost no comment from farmers in my district on that bill," Bateman said, adding that he knows there are farmers in his district in severe financial trouble.
Trible, Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), and Rep. Marjorie S. Holt (R-Md.) also voted against the credit program, citing concerns over the national deficit and the high cost of the farm credit program.
Other area members of Congress said they are torn over the issue. Democratic Rep. James R. Olin, who is on the House Agriculture Committee and represents part of the Shenandoah Valley, is faced with cattlemen who oppose the dairy program and dairy farmers who like it. Rep. Roy Dyson (D-Md.), who represents eastern and southern Maryland, has grain farmers who like price supports, and poultry farmers who dislike it.
Olin, concerned because he has heard so little from farmers in his district, has organized meetings with groups of farmers. Olin favors moving toward a market economy, but as gently as possible, an aide said. Dyson said he is afraid that such a move will put many family farms out of business, but agreed that a new federal approach to agriculture clearly is needed.
In Virginia, farming is a $1.4 billion industry, with farms covering more than one-third of the state. In Maryland, farming is a $1.1 billion industry, with farms covering about 42 percent of the state.
Agriculture officials in the two states said that life on farms here is far different from that in the Midwest, and that may account for some of the different reaction to the Reagan program. Some items:
* Land values in the region have not plummeted, in contrast to the 20 to 40 percent drop in land values reported in some areas of the Midwest.
* Several major commodities, like poultry and vegetables, did well in 1984.
* Most grain is sold locally, limiting transportation costs. One farm expert in Maryland estimates that Eastern Shore corn farmers can get 10 cents a bushel more than midwestern farmers whose grain must be transported a long distance to markets.
* Many Maryland and Virginia farmers have a mixture of products, from poultry to corn, and a drop in one is often cushioned by an increase in another.
* The local economies are not as heavily dependent on agriculture, thus farm bankruptcies do not have the devastating effect on other businesses, as they do in the Midwest.
* Many regional agricultural products, like poultry and beef, are not under government price-support programs, so are not affected by proposed changes. Much of the tobacco grown in southern Maryland is a variety that does not fall under the federal quota system.
One of the largest agricultural industries in Maryland and Virginia is poultry ($501 million), which is centered in the Delmarva area and the Shenandoah Valley.
The poultry industry has no federal price supports. "We never have and we never will," said Moyers of the Virginia Poultry Federation.
"Having had the successes we've had in the free market, we're not sympathetic to the many supports," said William Stephens, executive assistant of the Delmarva Poultry Industries Inc., which represents thousands of poultry farmers. He said price supports have pushed up the cost of corn and other feeds, which account for about 60 percent of the expenses in poultry farming.
The region's other leading farm product is milk, with a combined Virginia and Maryland value of $507.8 million a year. The federal dairy surplus program has had mixed support in Virginia, according to an Olin staff member, Ellen Layman.
Dairy farmers had to pay 50 cents per 100 pounds of milk to support a fund that paid farmers to cut back production. Layman said that Virginia did not have a milk surplus and thus had to import milk after the cutback.
"Virginia farmers felt that the 50 cents they paid was going to subsidize farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin," she said.
Willma Reeves, a farmer in Chaptico, Md., raises tobacco, corn and hogs and disagrees with many area farmers about what Reagan is proposing. Reeves said the federal programs have protected farmers from violent price swings, but she acknowledged that some farmers in the state see it differently.
"Unfortunately," she said, "there's been this litany that's been brainwashed into people, that farming will be all right if you can just get the government out of it."