By Barb Hauge
Weather was so beautiful in October that we, as lifetime members, could not resist attending Montana Farmers Union Convention at Heritage Inn, Great Falls even though no one in our family can afford to farm or ranch anymore.
We went early and spent a day touring Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center a-swirl with colorful autumn leaves beside the wide Missouri. Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery is a fascinating time in American history and we have read it all beginning with their journals which brave little Sacajawea rescued from the muddy waters. We lived it too as their spectacular movie took us along on Voyage of Discovery.
Before checking in at Heritage Inn we re-visited Charley Russell Museum which is now undergoing expansion. Charley, in both his life and his art work, typifies the independent spirit of the West.
That independent spirit did prevail at our Montana Farmers Union Convention. Its always a learning experience as we struggle to adopt a Program and Policy that will benefit all farmers and ranchers and, in this year before The Millennium, save us from economic disaster.
The Inn was swarming with candidates and people in public office anxious for our vote which has dangerously dwindled. There was a time when we had over a thousand convention delegates; now we have just over a hundred. In this era of great transition and global disasters, no community should be forced to rely on a food supply produced oceans away. Any elected official who has not improved our situation will not be re-elected.
The message from rural America to Government is loud and clear. Your Freedom to Farm Act is killing us. It may surprise you to learn that we really do not want your damned subsidies or emergency relief or whatever. We really DO want 100 percent Parity Price IN THE MARKETPLACE. (That's the Old Parity Formula; not tricky Dick Nixon's Revised Parity.) Actually, Government has not been subsidizing farmers and ranchers; Government has been subsidizing the International Merchants of Grain and the Multi-national Supermarkets to the World which Government has allowed to make an economic killing off the food and fiber we produce!
As a teenager I was elected one of two National Torchbearers from Montana. During my first plane flight to attend National Farmers Union Convention in Topeka, Kansas, I wrote:: "A WORLD FREE TO ALL" The World lies silent beneath me; farm land in patches of light and of dark; rivers like silvery ribbons and the sunlight through the clouds puts the Earth in light and in shadow. It's a beautiful World; it enchants me and its not really silent beneath me. On farms and in factories pulsating with life there are uncounted millions of men and women and children; little people: doing, giving, taking, every striving; often defeating themselves. Oh that the knowledge be granted to those countless millions of people; the power to hear, the vision to see, the wisdom to know that ever, in knowledge and union we own vast Worlds of Creation; with rivers to harness and land to produce and wealth to enjoy in a World that is free to all people with abundance and peace for all men!"
Now the deck is clearly stacked against primary producers of food and fiber. Too many are biting the hands that feed them!