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The Packer's Professors
— by Lee Pitts

In 1862 our Congress passed the Morrill Act which gave every state some federal land which the states were then free to sell. As with all things regarding the federal government, there were a couple strings attached to the gift. The proceeds from the land sales were supposed to be used by the states to educate their residents in agriculture and mechanical arts. (Each state got 30,000 acres per Congressman). The other stipulation was that the work of the land grant institutions, created with the money from the sale of federal lands, must primarily benefit America´s family farmers. I wonder how those Congressmen would feel now when their beloved land grant system is often used against the very people it was intended to benefit.

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Are Co-ops The Answer?
— by Lee Pitts

Some have suggested the remedy for what ails the cattle business is a dose of rancher owned co-operatives. But that too has been tried. The fourth largest beef packer in the country is a co-op. We´ll let you decide whether it´s a cure or a curse.

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Oversupply or Monopoly?
— by Jerry Sikorski

In 1971, when I returned to the ranch after serving in Vietnam, we were selling our wheat for about $2.70 per bushel. A bushel of wheat weighs sixty pounds and will make forty-five loaves of bread. Back then bread sold for around thirty cents a loaf, so we were receiving six cents out of a thirty-cent loaf, or 20% of the retail value of our product. Today, we now can get about $2.50 per bushel or five to six cents out of a $2.10 loaf, or 2.5% of the retail value. Tiger Woods gets paid ten cents for having his picture on each box of Wheaties, and the farmer gets five cents for raising the wheat.

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Politics, As Usual
— by Lee Pitts

According to news reports, at a White House ceremony Vice President Al Gore, the man who would be President, let his true colors show. And they weren´t red, white, and blue.

It seems Gore was presenting an award to a Colorado FFA member when he asked what field the honoree intended to go into. Upon hearing the young student wanted to go into production agriculture Gore reportedly implied that field wasn´t too fertile. He allegedly suggested that the FFA member should develop other plans "because production agriculture is being shifted out of the U.S. into the third world."

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The World Isn´t Level
— by Lee Pitts

America´s farmers and ranchers have an inferiority complex. We feel we must have done something wrong to merit a fat cattle price that is 18 percent less than last year. Our farmers must be second class because they cannot survive on a two buck a bushel support price that is the same price corn sold for 30 years ago! We are not worthy. At the same time retailers must deserve to be selling beef for nine percent more than a year ago. Beef packers must be entitled to a 300 percent increase in their margins since the early 1990´s because they are the survivors in an industry that has gone from four companies controlling 20 percent of the market in the 1970´s to more than eighty percent today. The giant food conglomerates have somehow earned their massive profits while ag producers have not. They are right and we are wrong. We can´t compete because we´re not efficient with beef producers the world over. That´s what we´re told anyway.

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