Ricker on Government Regulation, 1938

Visitor From St. Paul – A.W. Ricker, Editor Farmers Union Herald Speaks Over Station KSAL

A.W. Ricker, editor of The Farmers Union Herald, St. Paul, Minn., visited the state Farmers Union office in Salina, January 21. That evening he made a speech over KSAL, Salina Radio station.

Reviewing the development of farm legislation he said, “Our old idea of government was that of the policeman whose job it was to keep the peace, leaving the individual free to do almost anything he might wish to do.

“Acting on that theory of government, we have destroyed our forests, mined the earth of mineral wealth, wasted and destroyed our soil fertility and permitted the strong and powerful to become more powerful, and the weak to become weaker.

“This idea of government at last brought us face to face with dust-bowls, eroded hillsides, denuded forest areas, and mineral wealth in process of exhaustion, all of which has caused us to come to regard government as something which must conserve the resources of the nation and regulate the actions of citizens, so far as those actions relate themselves to the general welfare.”

—courtesy of Tom Giessel

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What Other Men Think of Farming

  1. “The first and most respectable of all arts is agriculture.”-Roseau.
  2. “Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor to man.”-Daniel Webster.
  3. “Of all occupations from which gain is secured, there is none better than agriculture, nothing more productive, nothing sweeter, nothing more worthy of a free man.”-Cicero.
  4. “Husbandry supplieth all things necessary for food.”-Spencer.
  5. “Tis sweet to spend one’s time in the cultivation of the field.”-Ovid.
  6. “Farmers and their families make up about 30 percent of our population. They exceed in number any other group engaged in one general industry.”-Henry G. Wallace.
  7. The agricultural population produces the bravest men, the most valiant soldiers, and a class of citizens that least given of all to evil designs.”-Cato.
  8. “The first farmer was the first man, and all historic nobility rests on possession and use of land.”-Emerson.
  9. “Animals are such agreeable friends-they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”-George Eliot.
  10. “The plow is to pray-to plant is to prophesy, and the harvest answers and fulfills.”-R. G. Ingersoll.

–courtesy of Tom Giessel

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Flimflam men are still faithfully serving corporate interests.

(The letter published below is written by A.M. Kinney, vice president of the Kansas Farmers Union, and former editor of this paper. Let us hope he writes letters to “Jonas” and that he lets us read the letters.)

Hon. Jonas Slickery, M.C.,
House of Representative Office Bldg.,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Jonas:

It has been a long time since I have written to you, but I got to thinking today of those old times when we went to school together in the old sod school house in the sand hills, and I could not resist the temptation to again remind you that I have kept tab on you all of these years. Of course I know that it is a long way from that old sod school house, and the sod house which you were born in, to the position which you now hold as a Member of Congress, corporation attorney for the largest corporations in the country, with your great show farm with its blodded stock, your winter home in Florida and your summer home in Maine: but I have no doubt that you have honestly earned your position and these good things of life by your faithful service to the corporation whom you represent in Congress.

I noticed by the papers that you were a charter member of the “American Liberty League.” When I first heard of this organization, I said to myself, “I’ll bet that Jonas will get in to this up to his neck.” You always have been a “jilner” Jonas, especially in any organization which you thought would advance your personal interest; but I am afraid you have made a mistake this time; the common people of this country have been going through a terrible crisis, and they are too much interested in the promise which the “New Deal” holds out to them to be flimflammed by catch words and fake liberty organizations. This “American Liberty League” put me in mind of the Missouri mule: “It has no pride of ancestry, or hope of posterity.” Ever since I can remember, slogans have been invented, and fake organizations have been formed by the class whom you represent to keep the people divided on the real issues which confront them.

Talking about flimflamming; you always were an artist at that. Do you remember Millie Johnson, the school teacher who taught our school so long? Soon after you hung out your shingle to practice law in the old town, Millie decided she wanted to homestead a quarter of land. Up in the North end of the valley there were two quarters that had been homesteaded and abandoned, one a good quarter all in the valley, and the other one all in the sand hills. You found out that Millie wanted a homestead, and you told her if she would give you three hundred dollars, you would contest the good quarter and she could file on it. You got the money, and filed contest on both quarters, and when they were canceled, you filed on the good quarter and Millie had to take the one that would only raise sand burrs and jackrabbits.

You are pretty good, Jonas; you must be, to live in an agricultural district, and be reelected year after year by farmers who have been bankrupted by the practices and methods of the people whom you really represent in Congress.

You will probably hear from me again.

Your old school mate,

A.M. Kinney

—courtesy of Tom Giessel “1934 letter that could be published today”

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This Ag Economist Preached Bigger is Better. Now He Says the Evidence Favors Small Farms.

by Nick Stumo-Langer | November 2, 2017

Since the 1960s, there’s been a concerted effort by economists and policymakers to consolidate family farms into large-scale industrial agriculture operations. The thinking was that these giant farms could better feed the world.

Today’s guest, John Ikerd, was one of those economists — that is, until the farm crisis hit in the 1980s. Ikerd took a hard look at what was happening in rural America, and at the mounting empirical evidence that something had gone wrong in our food system, and he had a dramatic shift in his thinking.

In the episode of the Building local Power podcast, Dr. Ikerd, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, sits down with ILSR co-director Stacy Mitchell to explain that shift and discuss the reality of consolidated agriculture and what it’s doing to rural communities, the environment, and our health. Despite the rhetoric of Big Ag, over 70 percent of the world’s food today is produced on family farms, according to Ikerd. And the evidence, he says, indicates that it’s a superior way to feed people.

“Today we don’t have a large number of small farms. We have very few large [agribusiness] firms. What sociologists and others have concluded is where you’ve got four or five large firms that control over half the overall market, you don’t have out and out collusion because they all know what each other is doing,” says John Ikerd, of our current concentrated agriculture sector.

He continues: “That’s the natural tendency of a capitalist economy. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the government…to not allow that to happen, rather than to sanction it or even encourage it.”

You can listen to the episode on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website here:

Or directly via iTunes here:

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The deck is stacked against family farmers. Here’s one rancher’s powerful response.

Mike Callicrate is a rancher who started out in industrial feedlot cattle production, but converted to principles of animal husbandry and regenerative agriculture when he saw how exploitive a system he was working in — exploitive of the the land, the animals, and the farmers themselves. Even the meat itself wasn’t very good.

Because of Callicrate’s unusual combination of business sense, political smarts, raw intelligence, and caring for the animals and the larger community, he has been able to make a business work that is based on regenerative principles. But, as he explains, it would take a major shift in agriculture policy to fix our system so that we have healthy and sustainable food, land, and communities.

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