[The 90’s raw: Eddie Tape #97 – Farm]

Eddie Tape #97. Farm. Interview with Cheryl Cook, Assistant Director of Legislative Services for the National Farmers Union. She talks about the bleak future of the American farmer, early 1990s.

00:00Copy video clip URL Footage continues from Tape 10947, interview with Cheryl Cook, Assistant Director of Legislative Services for the National Farmers Union. She notes that change is not always progress and that the tests NFU runs need to be included to make sure that change promotes sustainability of farmers’ profitability and of the growth of family farm communities. She notes the organization doesn’t think this is the case with the issue of bovine growth hormone (BGH), and notes that while it seems to be safe in the short term, no one can predict if it’s safe for the long term. She notes that what hasn’t really been focused on enough is the social and economic policy issues of  biotechnology and the impact on prices if, for example, we have more milk on the market then the market could bear. It could be detrimental.

05:03Copy video clip URL Cook defines progress as being different from change. “Progress gets you  closer to a goal, change can hurt. Our goal is a sustainable family farm system. Change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily helpful.”

05:57Copy video clip URL Cook says that it appears middle men are better at covering their costs of production then farmers.  She talks about the difference in prices during a 1988 drop in dairy prices. Consumers did not see the benefits of lower milk prices but retailers and processors were quick to cover their cost of production.

07:34Copy video clip URL  Cook adds that only 2 percent of the American population are farmers, one of the smallest populations in the world. What defines a farmer, she says, is anyone who makes a thousand dollars or more a year from agriculture. The full-time commercial farmers number only about 600,000 citizens. These are the ones who are in the most economic trouble right now. They will either have to sell part of their land and get a job in town to supplement income, or go out of business all together. She references data that suggest by 2010 the US will lose another 200,000 farms. “When we see numbers like that we get scared.”

10:22Copy video clip URL END

 

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