immediate release --November 13, 1998.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699
of Attorney General Tom Miller
on the Farm Situation in Iowa
is a statement prepared by Attorney General Tom Miller for the news conference
kicking off the "Green Ribbon Campaign," at the 75th National
Catholic Rural Life Conference.]
I am deeply concerned
with the situation in rural Iowa today. Farmers and rural communities
face serious financial strains due to low prices (particularly in the
hog industry), weather problems, and other factors. We all are hopeful
that conditions will change and prices will rise, but, unfortunately,
experts say we may not be able to count on fast improvement. It is important
that we join together now to do all we can to prevent the current situation
from turning into a farm crisis like the one we experienced in the 1980s.
First, we need to
raise public awareness and understanding of the severity of the situation.
The Green Ribbon Campaign announced today by the National Catholic Rural
Life Conference and cooperating organizations is an excellent vehicle
to do this. We can help draw public attention to the fundamental fact
that we always depend on farmers, and that farmers now need support from
all of us.
Second, I encourage
farmers and other parties with whom they may have disputes (such as lenders,
suppliers, landlords, and contractors) to attempt to resolve those disputes
using mediation. It is a process that was developed to deal with seemingly
intractable problems of the farm crisis of the 1980s. Mediation is required
before court action in some cases (farmer/creditor and care and feeding
contracts) and it has proven to be an effective way to successfully resolve
other types of disputes.
Third, we need to
pull together resources, talent, and expertise to address the problem.
My office, along with the Iowa Mediation Service, is holding regular meetings
with farm group representatives, lenders, clergy, university experts,
and government officials to share information and develop action strategies
to help farmers and their communities cope. All is not well in rural America,
so we all must pull together to face the challenge.
Fourth, I pledge that
I and the Farm Division in our office will do all we can. We have launched
several initiatives already, and we will continue them and others:
potential consumer fraud cases where unscrupulous businesses may have
taken advantage of distressed farmers.
educational seminars on production contracting and how farmers can best
protect their legal interests in grain and livestock contracts.
materials advising farmers how to make wise purchases of farm inputs,
including used farm machinery, pesticides, micronutrients, and potassium
and phosphorus fertilizers.
efforts by state attorneys general to convince Congress and USDA to make
livestock markets fairer and more competitive by requiring meat packers
to disclose more livestock price information.
Along with most Iowans,
I believe in the goal of preserving a central role for independent family
farmers in Iowa agriculture. I am committed to making the resources of
my office available and working with other organizations to achieve this
We all must step forward
and be voices for independent family farmers, who so enrich our lives,
from providing food to embodying many of the best values and character
traits of our people. We will be advocates for our friends and neighbors
in rural Iowa and rural America.
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