Examining the environmental harm of our meat addiction; assessing the depths of the world’s water crisis.
Mike Callicrate: It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce a bushel of corn. And if an animal eats 50 bushels of corn in it’s time in the feedlot, we’re looking at about 125,000 gallons of water per animal under the industrial model.
Isobel Yeung: So when it comes to those industrial scale feedlots, the majority of the water they’re using actually goes into producing the corn.
Mike Callicrate: That’s correct. And the reason that JBS has a big feedlot at Yuma Colorado is because there’s water. And they don’t pay one dime for that water. And they pay below the cost of production of that corn. The corn is the cheapest thing that we can feed because we buy it below cost of production. The water is subsidizing that operation.
Isobel Yeung: So with free water and cheap corn, the price of mass produced beef is kept artificially low.
Mike Callicrate: The question is: How much of the Ogallala aquifer do we need to support an industrial model or any model as far as that goes. And if we are so foolish as to let that precious resource run out, that’s a tragedy.
Isobel Yeung: Mike showed us the scale of land and water used by the giant meat producers here. So we’re just flying over Yuma County here in Colorado. This is one of the huge huge scale feedlots. You’ve got 100,000 cattle in this one feedlot down here. Is this all corn down here, these circles?
Mike Callicrate: Yes! Basically all of the circles that you’re seeing here is corn.
Isobel Yeung: That’s a lot of corn fields.
Mike Callicrate: Everywhere you see a circle, is pumping water. I think we have to have a true cost accounting going into these production models. The reason that these big companies can do what they do is because they’ve got the power to externalize so many of their costs. Whether it’s water. Whether it’s the pollution of the soil with the overuse of chemicals and the production of the crops. Environmental damage. That’s how we’re able to get a dollar burger at McDonald’s. And we’re not thinking about the future. We’re only thinking about the short term.
When Hon. David Overmyer died, the farmers of this country lost a friend — not a mere pretending friend for policy sake, but a loyal, true advocate of the cause of agriculture.
David Overmyer’s boyhood days were spent on a farm. There, early in life, he learned the value of toil and although he left the farm to become a lawyer, he cherished throughout his career, a close fraternal feeling for the farmer and whenever opportunity offered, his voice was raised on behalf of the producing classes.
Genius scorns conventionalities and David Overmyer had a way particularly his own about everything.
He was a genius, a master of the English language not even second to the brilliant Ingalls, a born orator and a poet in prose. There was a remarkable combination of rhythm, euphony, music and sound common sense in every utterance of this remarkable man — every utterance whether written or spoken. He unconsciously blended the poetic and the practical in a harmonizing manner.
The speeches and writings of David Overmyer are gems of literature and thought, but unfortunately, few verbatim copies of his speeches are in existence, for the reason that he always spoke extemporaneously, disdaining manuscript or even notes.
The Advocate, however, has in its files a complete copy of the address of welcome delivered by Mr. Overmyer before the Farmers Co-operative Congress which assembled in Topeka, October 22 of last year. From the Advocate of October 25, we reproduce Mr. Overmyer’s speech as follows:
“To the Farmers National Co-operative Business Congress, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Congress: On behalf of the people of this city I extend to you a most hearty welcome. You will find here an appreciative and sympathetic atmosphere. As my duty in welcoming you is purely a duty of courtesy, you will not expect from me any extended address. It may not be amiss, however, to call attention to a few points in which you may be interested. It is said that ‘self preservation is the first law of nature’. Also, that ‘the Lord helps those who help themselves’. And again it has been said, ‘Who would be free himself must strike the blow’. If I understand your mission, it is along such lines as I have suggested. You will find nobody in this world to help you, unless you are able to help yourself.
We are told in ancient fable that Anteus was invincible while his feet stood upon the sustaining earth. So nations and peoples are invincible so long as they live close to nature and cherish agriculture.
Light, heat, food, clothing, shelter. These are the essentials of civilized life. And yet, the farmer cannot purchase an article which enters into any of these in a free and open market; but is compelled to purchase them all, except such as he himself may produce, in a market which is completely monopolized and in which prices are determined, not by the laws of trade, but by the arbitrary will of a limited number of men. And, on the other hand, he is confronted by a combination of purchasers, and is prevented from access to a free and open market in which to sell his products by combinations, who, having driven out all competitors, are the only purchasers to whom we may offer his products.
We are told that prices are determined by the law of supply and demand, and that is true. But allow me to control the supply, or to control the demand, and I will control the price. Both supply and demand are controlled, at present, by the combinations to which I have referred, which shear the farmer of his profits and put up the price enormously to all consumers. They corner and control the supply or finished products which are to be placed on the general market for the general public, and thereby control the price arbitrarily. They limit the number of purchasers and combine the limited number, and thus they limit the demand for the farmers’ products by limiting the number of purchasers, and by a rigid combination of the limited number. Both producers and consumers suffer from the actions of these trusts and combinations which rule the markets. The farmer is a constant and great sufferer at their hands.
Again the transportation companies contribute greatly to the wrongs under which the farmers suffer by excessive rates and discrimination’s and rebates. The conduct of the companies in this respect in this state has been and is most flagrant and it is the same elsewhere, unless, perhaps, in Texas, which state has attained to a greater control over the railroads than any other state.
Wheat shipped from central Kansas to Kansas City bears a rate of 15 cents a hundred; while from Kansas City to Galveston the rate is 15 cents a hundred. But if the shipper would send his wheat from central Kansas directly to Galveston he must pay the rate from Kansas City plus the rate from his shipping point to Kansas City, even though he is as near Galveston as Kansas City it. Thus, he must pay double the rate to Galveston which a shipper shipping the same distance must pay who ships from Kansas City; and even if he should ship from Caldwell to Galveston, that point being 200 miles nearer Galveston than Kansas City, his rate will be 30 cents, while the rate from Kansas City to Galveston will be 15 cents.
Apples are shipped from Buffalo, N.Y. to the Pacific coast. Apples are also shipped from Kansas to the Pacific coast. The shipper from Kansas must pay as high a rate for half the distance to the Pacific coast as the shipper from Buffalo pays for the entire distance across the continent. Citrous fruits are shipped from the Pacific coast to Boston and New York. They are also shipped to Kansas. The charge for shipping from the Pacific coast to Kansas is the same as the charge for shipping from the Pacific coast to Boston and New York. Lumber is shipped from the western camps to Agra, Kan., 57 cents. It is carried on 200 miles further to Kansas City for 50 cents. Lumber is shipped from the southern lumber camps to Agra for 30 cents and carried on to Denver, several hundred miles further, for 30 cents; while on the shipments within the state the rates are excessive and great discrimination’s abound. These are but a few examples.
These high-handed practices of transportation companies are a great burden on all producers, and especially upon farmers. These wrongs have been going on for years, and though we have made some laws, and the courts have given a few wholesome opinions, yet very little, if any, impression has been made upon the general evil, and it is certainly true that conditions in these respects are as bad as they ever were.
The question which confronts the farmer is, How shall these evils be remedied? It will never be done by anybody for you, and there will be no improvement of your conditions until you organize to take care of yourselves. Once, nearly all of the people lived in the open country. Now, one-half of them live in cities and towns. Once, the impulse that ruled the government was rural. Now, it’s urban. Once the idea of public men are sentimental. Now, they are commercial and called ‘practical’. Once the question was, is a thing right? Now the question is, will it pay?
These changed conditions make it necessary as never before, that the farmers of the country shall organize, as never before, and as one man, demand their rights. When this is done, and not until this is done, will the farmers resume that importance and that dignity that were once theirs. They will not only enjoy the benefits that are due them as the producers of all that sustains life, but the methods, notions and habits of all the people will be changed.
The restoration of the farmers to their proper place will greatly improve the morals of the country by causing a return to the permanent, stable and abiding manners, customs and morals which under urban influences have greatly deteriorated.
And now, gentlemen, wishing you every success in your most laudable work, I again extend you a most hearty welcome.”
David Overmyer was one of the really great lawyers of the west. Moreover, he was a power among men. He might easily have amassed a great fortune. But he didn’t. He was content to be simply prosperous and provident. Summed up tersely, he fought the people’s battles strictly as a matter of principle — and he did it to his own financial detriment.
An untarnished name will be written in history as the monument to David Overmyer’s illustrious and exemplary career.
—courtesy of Tom Giessel
In fight against food waste, FoodMaven could do more harm than good.
California: Do Not Make an Uber Mistake with Homemade Food!
We need you to write letters and make phone calls.
East Bay friends click here for a special East Bay page!
“We should not allow big companies like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit or Amazon to extract profit as intermediaries of homemade food sales.”
TO WRITE: Click to download a template letter
To Contact the Assembly Health Committee:
Assembly Health Committee
State Capitol, Room 6005
Sacramento, California 95814
Please also send a copy of your letter to Christina@theselc.org so we can follow up and make sure it was received.
TIPS: We recommend that you do not email your Assembly member through their website contact form. Mailing or faxing a letter is much more effective and if you don’t want to mail or fax a letter (so old fashioned!) you can email your letter as a PDF to Christina@theselc.org and we’ll send it off for you. Phone calls are also very effective. Want to set up a meeting with staff or your Assembly member in your Assembly member’s local office? This is the best way to let them know you really care about an issue. Contact Christina@theselc.org if you’d like assistance with figuring out who to contact them and preparing talking points.
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“It’s not about legalizing an Uber for food and making rich companies richer; it’s about expanding our food options, bringing producers and consumers closer together and supporting livelihoods throughout the food system.”
Milo Reno, President of Iowa Farmers Union speaking to the annual convention of the Kansas Farmers Union
Nov. 18, 1926
Milo Reno 1932
Milo Reno, President Iowa State Union – “I am aways fortunate. I was born under a lucky star. I always have the opportunity to talk; sometimes it is early and sometimes it is late but you know, I appreciate that and I enjoy it. You people know all about me. I want to find out something about you tonight. I want to get a good line up of this audience. How many of you believe in the Declaration of Independence? I am going to ask you men and women here tonight, how many would die for the principles that the Stars and Strips represent? How many would do that? How many of you would rather go along and each follow the line of least resistance and let the flag take care of itself? What about you people out there in the audience who did not vote either way? You belong in this last class. Oh yes you do.”
“I have asked those questions for a purpose. Not with any irreverence at all, because there have been times in the history of this country of ours when men had to make that decision and when women had to decide. It was not a battle of groups or classes but a battle of the American people; the citizenship of this country. There is not a man or woman in this audience but what, if you will go back far enough, you will find your fathers came from some old country to the United States of America. Some of you are German; some of you are English; and I imagine, if my recollection serves me right, I heard some Scotchmen; also some French, as I am.”
“Everyone came over here for one principle. To get away from the tyranny and the bigotry and oppression of the mother country. When they came to this country and organized the 13 colonies or established the 13 colonies, they only had one thought in their minds: to get away from the two forces that had been most instrumental in oppressing them. They did not know anything about bonds in those days. They did not know anything about any oppression movement except the bigotry and oppression of the Nobility.”
“They did not know anything about any oppression movement except the bigotry and oppression of the Nobility.”
“Each of them, perhaps, equally to blame for the peoples unhappiness and the very first things your fathers did when they had the opportunity to express themselves was to not only try to get away from those conditions but to make it impossible for them to be forced on their children or their children’s children. The consequence was, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, that no American should accept the title of Nobility from any foreign country; they were protecting the men and women of today from the divine right of kings to rule. The other thing they did was to abolish the law of the kings. They would try to provide for you and I, making it possible for you and I to be citizens of the soil; to get away from the landlord and tenant way of living. Because of their desire, the Declaration of Independence was formed.”
“I want to say to you tonight, in this year of our Lord, 1926, the American people, to a man, will be compelled to decide as to whether we are going to maintain the government of the fathers or whether we are unable to meet the challenge of the world today and under which we are living. For the first time in the history of this nation, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are being directly assaulted.”
“There are just two programs being presented to the American people. Only two. One is the program of the Farmers Union similar to the one Woodrow Wilson spoke of in his book “The New Freedom,” before he had been bound by the politicians, and the programs of the exploiters. The two programs are very similar in some things. They have both been carefully worked out. Every step that has been taken by either of the groups has been carefully thought out and earnestly brought before the American people. You know a railroad that has not a terminal does not amount to much. Any organization that has not an objective does not amount to anything. A program, to be of use to the American people, must have a terminal. Both of the programs have an objection or terminal. One, the program of the exploiters of the common people today, has as its objective the entire obliteration of the American farm homes. The objective of the one program has the extermination of the American farm homes as a factor in the economic establishment of this country.”
“The objective of the one program has the extermination of the American farm homes as a factor in the economic establishment of this country.”
“The program of the great common people of this country, yours and mine, has “cost of production” for the farmer. This is your program. There are no others but these two. Men may misrepresent them; attempt to mislead you, but there are just these two programs.”
“You people here voted that you all believed in the Declaration of Independence. How many public schools in the state of Kansas teach to the scholars of that school the Declaration of Independence? How many do you think do? How many of you people here can give me the three fundamental principles contained in that Declaration of Independence? How often have you thought it over? Earnestly considered it. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ I wonder how many who held up their hands when they said they believed in the Declaration of Independence, how many were in earnest and had considered their vote carefully.”
“How many believe that any people in the world that has two groups of society, one group rolling in the wealth with all the degradation and debauch that the great accumulation of wealth carries with it, and the other side, the impoverished group, that is toiling and sweating to maintain the wealthy group? How many believe it is possible for a people to be happy under those conditions? It is an absolute impossibility. It never has occurred in this worlds history nor never will. Never in this wide world.”
“Here in the United States of America, the agricultural group that has contributed 50 percent of the nation’s wealth and income for over half a century, what have you to show for it? Indebtedness of $90.00 an acre on the land in the state of Iowa. I do not know how much you have here in Kansas. Not quite so much. About $2700 an acre, I think. Your mortgaged homes. This group that has contributed half the income in the United States as an object of pity from the other group. Why? You have got to answer that question some time, some where. You people have got to determine those things.”
“I drove out east of Des Moines the other day. I passed a Country Club. There is not only one Country Club at Des Moines, there are three. This was the newest one. The last one to be established. It cost a hundred thousand dollars. A little group of men in Des Moines built it. You drive on down through the streets of Des Moines and you see the great sky scrapers there. Go to the cities; the great centers of population, and there you see the evidences and destruction. You see the prosperity that has followed the organized efforts of certain groups and you farmers of Kansas, Iowa, and the great middle west have to organize. You get the answer definitely and decisively and you will be compelled to make the sacrifice necessary if you ever win or succeed. You will answer the question as to what the conditions of agriculture will be in the future in this county. When you speak of the future of agriculture in the United States, you speak for the world over.”
“When you speak of the future of agriculture in the United States, you speak for the world over.”
“You are the dominating force in the production of foods. Somebody has said they could not believe there was any group of men in the United States that would purposely obliterate the American farm homes. The farm home has been the backbone of this and every other nation from time eternal. It has been the farm home that has produced and furnished the boys who have worn the uniforms of the United States in every war that the United States has been engaged in. When they think, it was those boys who paid the debts. It is unthinkable to the average mind that any group of men would set out to destroy agriculture in the United States as we know it and love it. That is their program and it has been carefully put in operation today. Why do they want to do that? In their greed for power and wealth, they have concluded that to be necessary. In order to make this country the greatest industrial country of the world, control the industry and commerce, they have decided it is necessary that the farm home, as a unit, shall go. There shall be a great corporation owning and controlling the foods of this country.”
“There shall be a great corporation owning and controlling the foods of this country.”
“Just following the tail of the serpent, the first establishment of the Rockefeller Foundation until now, John D. Rockefeller is one of the big millionaires. This country has produced many millionaires who had wonderful minds along their lines. He is one millionaire who had the mind to look ahead and work out the problems, not only for this generation but for the generations to come. When John D. Rockefeller established his foundation fund, it was because he was aware of some economic truths.”
“No Democracy can continue with great accumulations of wealth.”
“No Democracy can continue with great accumulations of wealth. Do not forget that. Do not let it make you think I am a Socialist because I am saying these things. I am saying them because they are true. No democracy and great accumulation of wealth can long travel side by side.”
“John D. Rockefeller knew that. He reasoned it out. Then established his Foundation. In order to pass on from generation to generation the wealth he had accumulated by taking unto himself the great natural resources, he decided to undermine the peoples faith in Democracy, their confidence in self-government. He put the machinery in operation to do this. You remember so well when the Government asked you for your boys to take a part in the world war and they handed you the consolation that your boys were being called to the uniform to make the world safe for Democracy. I am not saying this with any criticism of our activities of the world war. I am going, step-by-step, as it happened. Let me assure you of another thing. The signatures of the armistice were not yet dry until they started scattering this propaganda. Three ex-Governors of the state of Iowa publicly ridiculed the idea of Democracy, and each of them delivered those messages within eight months of the signing of the Armistice. One man said Democracy, or anything approaching it, was dangerous.”
“The Saturday Evening Post came under the influence of the Rockefeller Foundation and supported one of the Trustees for President of the United States. Herbert Hoover’s picture was on the front cover. I am telling you history. I know it. John D. Rockefeller did not come down here and buy the Arkansas City Traveler. He did not go up to Kansas City and buy the Star. He did not go over into Iowa and buy any of those papers; he did not want them; he could not use them. They were not of any use to him. He got the Saturday Evening Post, the oldest and most reliable magazine in the United States. Not long ago, I stood by the tomb of Benjamin Franklin, who founded the Saturday Evening Post in 1734 and I wondered if the spirit that has gone on knew what was happening here. How it is possible for the spirit of Benjamin Franklin to remain entombed when the publication he established was used to destroy the liberty of the American people. The Saturday Evening Post carried a three page article from K. L. Roberts in which he renounced Democracy when he said the Government was controlled by the turbulents.”
“They organized a little paper for you, to reach the farmers. They called it the Country Gentleman. Sounds nice, don’t it? Did you sign a petition and send it over to John D. Rockefeller and the Curtis Publishing Company and tell them we did not have any farm papers in the middle west? Did you tell them, we want you to publish us a real American publication and send it to our homes? You did not do that but you got it. How did they get it to you? They got it to you through appointive officers that drew their salaries from public taxation. They went into your schools and made them subscription agencies for the Country Gentleman. The county superintendent and the county agent came down and made a proposition to the professor of the schools, that they give a little prize to the one who got the greatest amount of subscriptions for the Country Gentleman. My little nephew was trying for one of the prizes. When I came into his home, the proposition was put up to me. Wanted me to subscribe for the magazine. I was mad. I told that child to go tell that professor that we were going to put on a campaign for subscriptions to the Appeal to Reason. We passed a law in Iowa prohibiting that kind of stuff. Why did they want the Country Gentleman to get into the homes of the farmers? In Iowa, we have a number of papers and here in Kansas you have all kinds of agricultural magazines. Nobody needed the John D. Rockefeller Foundation to publish a paper for the middle west. Why did they do it? They wanted to reach you with their stuff. They wanted to undermine your faith to conduct your own affairs.”
“They wanted to undermine your faith to conduct your own affairs.”
“In the Country Gentleman that was issued with that Saturday Evening Post I told you of, it contained an editorial and recommended that this nation use the short ballot from now on and that the county officers should be appointed, and attacked the idea that the great common people of this country were competent to run their own affairs. In the Declaration of Independence, it says, that all just governments receive their power from the consent of the governed. Abraham Lincoln said your job and mine was to keep this government free; for the people and by the people. You cannot enslave a man who believes in his ability to govern himself. You can get to a place where you can compel them to a revolution but you cannot enslave them. You have to break down their self respect – his self reliance, before you can do that. You have to first teach them that some man has been endowed by the Creator to govern them better than they can govern themselves. Abraham Lincoln made this statement, that God Almighty never made a man good enough to rule his fellow men. Before they can enslave the American people, they must destroy the American confidence in themselves to conduct their own affairs. Another thing that will never happen. You will never entirely enslave a man as long as he has access to the soil.”
“You will never entirely enslave a man as long as he has access to the soil.”
“If I was to gov over and spit on John Tromble’s new shoes, there would be a fight right now. He would not stand for that. He had a good supper tonight and is feeling fine. Suppose he did not have a good supper and had not had one for several days and I would spit on him then, he would not be so sensitive then. It is the food that is attracting your attention. The group of men who intend to enslave the world fully realize that before you can enslave the American citizen, you have to control his food supplies and you never can control his food supply as long as he has access to the soil. You can not do it.”
“These programs I am bringing you here tonight; the other fellows program is to destroy your confidence in yourself, yours, that you can do things. They tell you you cannot raise hogs as good as I can. You need an overseer. You ought to have his advise. Do people for one minute think the Extension Service of the United States was established to increase production? For 50 years you produced such an abundant surplus that it has bankrupt you? It is not the economists in this country who do not know that is true. Your surplus is a problem today just as it was years ago. The farmers have produced such an abundance that there has never been a scarcity of food. No other nation can show a record like that. Do you think the Extension Service of this country was established to assist you to produce more? It was established for just one thing. That was to destroy your confidence in yourself. If we should stop here, just as far as we have gone, every reasonable mind knows that that is true. When you consider it in the light of the things that have happened year after year since the establishment of that institution, it proves it, conclusively. Henry Ford broke right out in print and said what it leads to. The Dearborn Independent, his paper, says the day of the little farmers is passed. That he was a back number. That the agricultural future of this country should be in corporations holdings. Such a strong wave of protest went over the country. You did not hear anything more from him until the Herald Examiner of Chicago opened their front page to him and then he commenced a series of articles, whether you like it or not, saying corporation would own and control the products of the land. He told you why. It was very necessary to farm efficiency. It would eliminate the waste of the little farmer that we have today. Corporations would control the productions of the food in the future. It would take only about 30 days to do that and the other 11 months that you have been loafing, they would put you to work in some factory. Everyone who read that article remembered it. If he was the only one who took that position, we would say it was one of his dreams, the same as his peace ship expedition.”
“H.L. Meneken, noted American author, takes the same stand. He says it is a crime to permit the production of food to remain in the hands of those so ignorant. If they were the only two who take that position, it would not be so serious. It is the August number of the Manufacturers Record. Articles and Editorials from that magazine are read into the Congressional Records. It is the mouth piece of the Industrial world today. There is an article by Mr. O’Neill there in which he states that corporation control is the only sensible way and efficient way to produce human foods in the future. One of his arguments in favor is that corporations will build their own mills, have their own stores, gin their own cotton, build and operate their fertilizing plants, control their light plants, etc. It will be the biggest business in the world: Agriculture. Every department he had in his program contained a place for an expert. If he was the only one, if it was only Henry Ford and Meneken O’Neill in the Manufacturers Record, it would not be so serious.”
“The program of O’Neill is being put into operation. We have a corporation under the name of the Fairway Farms Corporation in Montana, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation money and in their initial publication, they stated to the public they were ready for the establishment of this corporation. They said the Fairway Farms Corporation was established to demonstrate to society that the proper way to produce food in this country was on the landlord and tenant basis. They intend to link up with the Secretary of Agriculture’s Department of Montana and the Agricultural Experts. Down in Iowa, we call them County Agents. I had the satisfaction, last December, of addressing a wonderful meeting in Billings, Montana, when their Secretary of Agriculture sat in the front row and I asked him the question, after reading that part of the Article I quoted to you, if they intended the Rockefeller Foundation to take his Department in the State of Montana and if he intended to be made a part, at least, of the program to take the farms in the state of Montana that way. He said, ‘of course’, but he lied. He lied. They are doing it right along.”
“I spoke at Borderview, Montana in the early days of July. Went over from the Black Hills. He had a wonderful audience. They drove 150 miles, some of them to that meeting. We did not have any politicians there. I started at 1:00 and spoke until after 3:00 in the afternoon. I noticed them, every once in a while when I was outlining the Fairway Farms Corporation and what it meant to them and there would be a smile go over the faces of my audience. I found that on my left was the General Manager of the Fairway Farms Corporation. I said the men who intend to abolish the homes of the farmers were traitors 1,000 times blacker than Benedict Arnold or Jefferson Davis ever were.”
“In Henry Fords program, he does not see anything bad about that. He only sees the world through the reflection of the dollar. He only ridges men through the dollar. His heart and soul and mind has become a thoroughfare along that line. You can forgive him. Meneken with all his ability and his soul; he believes he belongs to a crowd that is superior to the common herd. You can forgive them because it is only what you would expect from that kind of a character. You can forget the contribution to the Manufacturers Record. It represents a group that only sees in the future an industrial nation. Agriculture is only a means to that end. They have no sentiment about our farm homes only to see the power they can have and the control it will give them by industrializing the United States and penalizing the American farmers. The men I cannot forgive and the men I will not forgive are those paid servants pledged to industry. Down in Iowa, we pay $7,500,000 out of our state treasury every two years to maintain the Agricultural College at Ames, and others. We have a lot of people employed down there. We have some wonderful minds in that institution. We have an Agricultural economist. He does not teach you to make two blades of grass grown where one grew before. He tells you how to make money out of what you do grow. He is a brilliant man. We do not pay a dollar too much for the services of Dr. Holmes.”
“He addressed the bankers at Sioux City, Iowa, not long ago. There were some he did not talk to. The warden of the penitentiary would not let some of them out. To the ones who were there, C.L. Holmes, the farmers chief economist, outlined a program for agriculture and he could speak with authority as your representative and servant. We pay him to look after the economic end of agriculture. Either of the three propositions Dr. Holmes presented to the state bankers association, if put into operation, would eliminate the farm home. Two were all day suckers. The meat was in his last proposition. They were, first, the farmer establish an association and they all put their land in and start and pay so much an acre and hire an AGRICULTURAL EXPERT to operate them.”
“He knew it was almost impossible to organize the farmers into a real farm organization. It is a hard task and he knows Gabriel will blow his horn before he could organize the farmers into an organization of that kind. The second was that the farmers organize great financial corporations to acquire title to the land in the middle west and they operate them as corporations under the management of an AGRICULTURAL EXPERT. In all their propositions, they have a page for the AGRICULTURAL EXPERT to tell you farmers how to farm. Mr. Holmes knows that is possible and what is impossible. Why did not he say organize a financial corporation and take the transportation lines of this country? An organization that represents $73,000,000. There is not a man or woman who has a wish for fairness, does not know Mr. Holmes was handling them an all day sucker. Suppose his second proposition was possible, what would have become of the American farm home? Even if the farmer had been able to form a corporation to acquire title to land in this country and it was operated as outlined, where is your American farm home? His last proposition was the one. Great corporations were to be formed to acquire title to the land and they were to be operated on the landlord plan. These operators were under the direct supervision and control of an AGRICULTURAL EXPERT. Told at last.”
“These operators were under the direct supervision and control of an AGRICULTURAL EXPERT.”
“You know, I rode 120 miles in a little Ford car with the President of the Farmers Union of Montana, Jim O’Shay. He told me of the horrors of the landlord system in Ireland.”
“You people are being asked no money for Ford, Meneken, O’Neill and Rockefeller to establish a landlord system in this country. The men who are supposed to represent agriculture and stand for agricultural interests are proposing the landlord tenant system in this country fled years ago. When you destroy the farm homes you have undermined our constitution. You have spit on the American farmer and the Declaration of Independence, just as sure as the sun rises tomorrow in the East.”
“Mr. Homes did not stop with a recommendation but he said in that address that already there had been many corporations of that kind form – I and they were proving successful. The program has not only been thought out but it is being put in force day after day.”
“There are some things I know and some things I do not know. I do not know if you have the peasants heart or not. I do not know whether you are going to sit down and allow these things to occur. I do not know whether you are going to bed led by the politicians first one way and then another. Are you going to allow these people to effect you or not? Have you the heart of an American gentleman or peasant?”
“Have you the heart of an American gentleman or peasant?”
“I know another thing. Every one of you, sometime in the future, are going to face those fathers of yours who stained the snow red with the blood from their feet at Valley Forge and may God help you, when you say to them you developed the heart of a servant or peasant and let your liberty be taken away from you. God help you, if that is the heart you have in you. I have no particular interest in making you people love me. You will either love me or you will go to hell. There is no place in the scriptures for anybody who does not love his brother. Now, you all love your brothers. I am your brother and you have to love me. I am telling you the truth as I see it. I am telling you the program as I know it. The consequences as I believe them. If I did not, I would not be standing here.”
“The other program is the program of the Farmers Union. I am saying this without the least jealousy or hatred or envy in my heart for any other people; the Farmers Union is the only organization in the United States today that can prevent the program I have outlined to you. If there is any other group who has a program that is workable, name it because I want to learn. Somebody says the Republican party. I expect that fellow who was up here tonight would say the Democratic party. May God help the American farmer when he gives his future to the hands of a political party.”
“May God help the American farmer when he gives his future to the hands of a political party.”
“I want you to understand that you, and you alone, can determine the things that are necessary for your existence and happiness. You can put in operation what you need and want.”
“Over in Oklahoma where they have taught non-partisan politics, they have two Republican Senators. Down in Arkansas they have two Democratic Senators. They joined hands and sources in the fight to unset Brookhart. I have heard Democratic politicians making speeches and they said the only hope to be had was in the Democratic party. Same with the Republican. The Republicans told the Farmers Union of Oklahoma, send us to the United States Senate if you want to preserve your liberty. Human selfishness and ambition control politics. Here in the state of Kansas, you have a member of Congress, who was so non-partisan that he thought you did not know what you wanted and voted against the McNary-Haugin Bill; a Congressman went over to the same group and spit in the faces of the farmers of Kansas. You have an ex-Gov. Allen. I do not know whether he ever told the truth, by accident or not; he tells lies about the farmers of Kansas and the farmers of Iowa. I know when Henry Allen said the only hope of Iowa farmers had was another world war, that was not the truth. He insulted the intelligence of every man in the United States, let alone in Iowa. No man like that could ever be elected to the governorship of the state of Kansas from any worth of his own. They say the only hope for the farmers of the state of Iowa is to get out. There is not a man in the state of Iowa who has little enough respect for himself to make a statement like Henry Allen made. That the condition of the Iowa farmers was because of speculation in land and extravagance of living. I do not know whether he knew any better or not. If he did not, he will not got to Hell. A man has to have some sense to go there.”
“Henry Wallace will tell you that only 7% of the farmers of Iowa became involved because of land transactions. Here is what happened in Iowa. Somebody went out and bought a little piece of land. It was gambled in. That land changed hands and the owner made a little money. The land changed hands many times and each time a little money was made or lost. Then they went out and said that the whole state of Iowa was being bought and sold. In one county in 7 ½ miles, there were just two farms that had changed hands. I have two farms and I never sold an acre or bought an acre at that time. It was the bankers and their speculators who speculated in Iowa land. Anybody can find that out if they only try. Go to the records. If you write to Mr. Jardine, Secretary of Agriculture, from your own state, he will verify that statement. All of this noise you have heard about Iowa farmers was one farm going through the hands of the speculator. The same man is gambling in your wheat, your corn, your pork, your beef, and every product of the American farm.”
“The same man is gambling in your wheat, your corn, your pork, your beef, and every product of the American farm.”
“I stopped the other day and watched and listened to the men at the grain exchange. It sounded more like bedlam than I ever heard in my life. I have heard every kind of noise on the face of the earth but I never heard anything in the wide world like the noise those men made, buying and selling your wheat. Just buying and selling. I said, poor as I am, I would give $1000.00 if I could get that noise across to the American farmer and make him listen to it. The same man is backed by the banking interests of this country who gambled with Iowa land. Henry Allen would not stand on this platform and say anything different, when I am on the platform, either.”
“The program of the Farmers union is sound and it has an objective. I was in the office of the Secretary of Agriculture, and I asked if he believed in Government price fixing. He said no, he did not want to jeopardize the American products by allowing price fixers to fix the price. The only persons who have the right is the men and women who produce them. Do you know it would be dangerous if the farmer would organize to fix the price on farm products. Do you think so? I do not. I said to him again; there is just one fair basis to all groups of society on which to determine the price of human food and that is the cost of production. That is the program of the Farmers Union. If the farmer would ask you to buy a machine at less than it cost to produce it, it is unfair. If the farmers of the United States would ask to buy clothes to cover their backs at less than it costs to produce them, it is unfair. If the other group will not pay “cost of production” for foods, it is unfair. When the farmer asked for a fair price, with cost of production, it is the only fair thing to do. We might just as well meet these things fair and square. That is your objective. Who is responsible for it? Then Farmers Union. Seven years ago at the State Meeting in Iowa I introduced a resolution from the floor of that convention and I meant it word for word. The resolution was thus resolved, that the farmer has the right to cost of production, plus a profit.”
“The resolution was thus resolved, that the farmer has the right to cost of production, plus a profit.”
“What they did not say about me, they did not say. That is all. They said the most nice things about me and to me. I am living to see the day when 24 producers groups of farmers have endorsed that resolution. Your organization was responsible for it. That is your program. You believe in cost of production for the farmer. Every step that has been taken has been responsible and logical. After the 24 groups of farmers agreed it was sound, that agriculture had to have cost of production, the next step was to ascertain what it was. Your organization accepted the responsibility. John Tromble was in the meeting when they made me the chairman of that committee. I appealed to them to appoint some man as chairman of that committee who had the time to give to that service. They refused to do that. I am sorry to say, some of them said, ‘it is your bill, now be daddy to it.’ I served notice on them, do not think this committee will not report. We will report for every state that will permit us to come in and get the figures. We took our cost of production sheets on two different occasions before the committee that has grown to 36 instead of 24 organizations that had endorsed this. It was so fair and unassailable that they could not refuse to accept it. The first thing I did when I selected the man to obtain the cost of production was to ask the members of the different organizations to send their representatives to Des Moines. Ames Agricultural College sent Dr. Holmes and Professor Thompson. They asked: how are you going to get this information? Are you going to take some particular place or are you going to take the farm as a whole and make them part of production costs, bearing it’s just proportion of loss and just proportion of income? Mr. Holmes objected to that and for two hours he objected to it. I said to him, if you insist on ascertaining cost of production on any other basis than considering the American farm home as a factory. I am serving notice on you, the time will come when the American farmer will demand the truth.”
“I am serving notice on you, the time will come when the American farmer will demand the truth.”
“The American farmers consist of 33 percent of the population of this nation. 66 percent of the children that make men and women of this nation come from the farms. I said more than that to Mr. Holmes. Out of the $74,000,000.00 debts in this country, the farmer has to pay every dollar of them. No other group will ever pay a dollar of that. Agriculture has to pay it. When the farmer is organized, he will demand that a sinking fund be made to absorb the debts of this country. He went away and never did come back. These cost of production sheets have been open to the entire world. The group who has made these figures and asked for their release and criticism has been your group. It is your organization, the Farmers Union, who will compel action to be taken. Your organization has invited every other group of citizens to set around the table and help us determine whether those figures were fair or not. No other group has ever done that.”
“The packers have a ruling from the Supreme Court saying they cannot go in and investigate their business. We want cost of production and we are building the organization to get it. The first shipping Association built in the state of Kansas, was it built to put some dealer out of business? You have outgrown that now, haven’t you? The first shipping Association was organized that the control and ownership of the livestock should be more in your own hands. You will never control the price until you control the product. Henry Ford controls his cars all the way to the distributor, from his factory until it reaches its driver. He controls the repairs, etc. too. You pay him what he asks. You have to build the same kind of sales agency. Say it costs this much to produce wheat, this much to produce corn, etc. You have to get control of the products before you can control the price. Why did you build this Livestock Commission Company at Kansas City? The object was to retain control of your livestock. When the Farmers Union controls at least 40 percent of the receipts of the terminal markets, they will fix the price. Do no doubt it. It is true of every step the Farmers Union has taken. It is true of your life insurance. It is true of you fire insurance and your other branches. The Farmers Union Life Insurance was the last stand of the American farmer for economic independence. Take two men. One is a good farmer who belongs to the Farmers Union, the other is a good farmer who does not. They both have $8,000.00 mortgages on their farms. The one borrowed from the bank. The Farmers Union member borrowed from his own life insurance company. Do you think the Farmers Union Life Insurance Company will let that member lose his farm? The man who borrowed part of his own money back. No, they will not. Do you think the Farmers Union of Iowa accepts the responsibility of building a life insurance company? We organized it so, instead of sending the millions of dollars out of the state, that you retained control of your surplus and reserve in your own hands. That is why we organized the Farmers Union Mutual Life Insurance Company.”
“Every step of the Farmers Union has been with an object. It is to build up machinery so you can control your own products. You have a problem to solve.You cannot get away from the responsibility. It is only a question of courage. Only a question of waiting.”
“Two or three weeks ago I was in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed. I sat down where General Washington worshiped. I thought. I went out and sat down at the foot of one of the monuments there, and I wondered why the American farmer, the biggest force in this nation, don’t do something; when a little handful of men, long ago, absolutely pledged their lives and fortunes to the success of that cause. They fought it out to a successful conclusion. They only won through the providence of God. You are willing at all times to grant to every other group every privilege you are asking for yourselves. Get those privileges for yourselves. When you do that, no power in the world can stop you. It is all up to you. You have to have the heart and the courage. In the solving of your problems, you have not given the full measure of devotion or the full measure of sacrifice until you have given life itself, if necessary. I said once to Mr. Brasted, I wonder if you realize all of your responsibility. Iowa is watching Kansas. You have to make a success. You have to make a success of your banking program. We are waiting for your people to demonstrate their ability. You cannot get away from that responsibility. We just as well meet these things fair. It is not a matter of appearance, it is a matter of earnestness and loyalty of principles we have been talking about. You are the only group who can solve that problem. It is heartbreaking when we see the opposition to the Farmers Union when it is the only hope for the farmers and for agriculture. If the farmers only knew that your organization today is the one block that stands between them and absolute obliteration; if they realized that, this room would not have held the people.”
“I want to pay tribute to the state of Kansas. It has been an inspiration to Iowa as well as Oklahoma. Your leadership has been an inspiration. I want to say this of John Tromble. There has been several times in the last 18 months that I wondered just what was going to happen and I began to look around for the man who I could depend on in an emergency and I always turned to him. You do not have to wonder how or where he stands. The first man who always finished in my mind is John Tromble of Kansas.”
“I thank you.”
—courtesy of Tom Giessel