Sonny Perdue

I heard Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's comments about agricultural markets on Northern Ag Network radio recently. Yes, he is right, ag producers will make slightly more income this year than last. And, yes, he is right, most of that extra income will be provided through government subsidies.

Witnesses are required to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when they are sworn in to court. His remarks are a prime example of what happens when a person chooses to tell only part of the truth. Let me help him with more of the truth.

First, government subsidies only kick in when even the federal government recognizes that farmers cannot stay in business without more income. Even the federal government recognizes that prices dictated by oligopolies sacrifice agricultural producers in the name of higher profits.

Second, government subsidies apply to corn, soybean and wheat producers. Yes, our government also supplies a trickle of funding to experimental crops, but not enough to keep producers in business. Livestock are excluded from subsidies. Do not imply that all agricultural producers will receive a higher income this year because of subsidies. Only a few will.

Third, dismal agricultural prices are not only a social justice issue, but a national security issue. When people recognize injustice that is not only supported, but embraced by government, they rebel. When people are hungry, they rebel. When people are hungry and recognize injustice, they are vulnerable to foreign influence.

It is time for Secretary Perdue to stop parroting half-truths. It is time for him to stop sacrificing America’s farmers and ranchers. It is time for him to stand up and work for transparent pricing that will promote equitable agricultural markets that are enjoyed by many buyers and sellers, not dictated by only a few international companies. It is time for Perdue to work for his constituents and promote markets that offer sustainable prices so the federal government does not need to offer subsidies. It is time for the secretary to do what is right.


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Lisa Schmidt, of Conrad, raises cattle and sheep in Pondera County.