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Issue Home October 25, 2006 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Coalition Proposal, Part II

Recently, the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), of which Pro Ag is a member, submitted a proposal to the Dairy Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Dairy Division was soliciting proposals from interested parties concerning methodologies to be considered for pricing Class III and Class IV milk. This milk is used mainly for making cheese, butter and powdered milk.

My last editorial explained the pricing mechanism of the Coalition’s proposal. If their proposal was enacted, then dairy farmers would receive a pay price of somewhat over $17.00 per cwt, not the $11.00 or $12.00 per cwt they have been receiving.

The second part of the Coalition’s proposal addresses the possible threat of any overproduction that might surface as a result of realistic prices being received by dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers have repeatedly told us at various meetings that if they received a fair price for 95% of their milk, then they would be willing to take a much lower price for up to 5% of the remainder of their milk. The possible lower price on this much milk would allow the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) or any other agency established by the USDA to dispose of the extra dairy products (if they exist).

1. On November 1 of every calendar year, the Secretary, to the best of his or her ability, shall estimate the quantity of milk to be produced in the United States and marketed for commercial use during the next calendar year.

2. The proposal calls for the imports of dairy products to be capped at the current level. At the conclusion of each calendar year, the federal or state milk marketing administrator shall assemble and record each dairy farmer’s milk production totals for the concluded year. These figures shall be determined by February 1 of the following calendar year.

3. After the Secretary has exhausted all normal and legal channels to dispose of dairy products, the Secretary shall be empowered on a bi-monthly basis to determine if an overabundance of milk is being produced for the entire domestic market.

In the event that an overabundance of milk is being produced, the Secretary shall have the authority to levy a charge on all dairy farmers up to half of the value of Class III and Class IV milk, on up to five percent of total production. If this is not sufficient, the Secretary may levy an additional charge on producers who increased their production over the past year.

The proposal also addresses hardship cases and new start-ups.

The proposal, as written, does not curtail production, but if there is overproduction, then somebody must pay.

As an example: 100,000 lbs. per month producer X $17.00 per cwt = $17,000.

If the Secretary felt that it was necessary to implement the full 5% penalty, then the 100,000 lb. producer would be charged $8.00 per cwt on 5,000 lbs. This charge would be $400 for that month. $17,000 minus $400 = $16,600 versus 100,000 lbs. X $13 per cwt = $13,000. The 100,000 lb. producer would gain $3,600 per month or $43,200 per year.

If the Secretary deems the percentage can be lower than the 5%, then the farmer would gain even more.

The choice is up to the dairy farmers. Do you want a realistic price, or do you want to continue to cope with the sadistic prices that you are receiving?

Pro Ag can be reached at 833–5776.


Arden Tewksbury

Meshoppen, PA

Napalm And The Amish

Two stories made the news not too long ago. One piece was about an upgrade in the lethality of napalm, the other article detailed the ordeal of the Amish and the slaying of five of their children. "Improved" napalm and the Amish. The juxtaposition jarred. Perhaps because the sum of the stories is greater than its parts.

Flame throwers made their appearance during the early days of WW II. But there were problems. The gasoline squirted out of the nozzle too quickly and was not target-specific. The problem was given to Harvard chemists, who invented a way to transform liquid gasoline into a rubbery gel. Greater viscosity increased the range of the flame thrower, gave it greater target concentration, and it had the added advantage of being sticky. The flame thrower had come into its own. It became an extremely potent weapon against "soft targets" – that's us.

Development continued. Ways were found to make it burn slower, yet hotter. Oxidizers, such as magnesium or phosphorous were added to provide an oxygen boost to the flames. Napalm now reached temperatures in excess of 2,000 F – that's hot enough to melt steel.

Napalm bombs quickly followed. The bombs had a deceptively simple design; they had no vertical stabilizers and were made of thin-skinned aluminum. When dropped, they tumbled end-over-end, shattering easily on contact with the ground, splattering their contents over an area the size of eight football fields.

Now napalm is no more. Phased out because of its atrocious nature? No. Phased out because it has been replaced with a more effective incendiary gel, the Mark 77. This munition does not contain the ingredients that gave napalm its name, so technically it is not napalm. When the military claims it does not use napalm anymore, they are telling the truth, but it perpetrates a lie. What's in a name? Generically, it's still napalm.

Details about the Mark are not fully revealed. The liquid base of gasoline has been replaced with kerosene and benzene. And perhaps it contains flakes of sodium, which burn violently upon contact with air or water, making it more difficult to extinguish. Whatever its precise makeup, the U.S. employed napalm in Iraq, and Israel used it in its 1967 war and in its first invasion of Lebanon. To date, neither country has signed the U.N. treaty outlawing its use.

A world away from new and improved napalm live the Amish. They are a pacifist Christian sect we associate with a nineteenth-century way of life, horse-drawn buggies, straw hats, and beards. Few would want to live like the Amish: an austere life, no modern conveniences, an insular existence – yet, they fascinate.

The Amish strike a responsive chord in us; they stand where we stood two centuries ago. There was a time when America was a land of self-reliant Yankee farmers. Fettered to no one, they were not serfs to the government, or servants to an employer. Early Americans were free in ways we can no longer imagine. Like a once vast, virgin forest, only a patch of that life remains, the Amish.

The slaying of those five children stirred those primeval memories with familial sorrow for our distant kin, the Amish. Little wonder that so far $1 million – and increasing rapidly – in contributions have poured in for hospital bills. But the hospitals said, forget it. We want to help, too.

The story of the homicides is familiar. A deranged gunman entered an Amish one-room schoolhouse and bound ten young girls by their legs and to each other. He was armed with a shotgun, rifle, and a pistol. After 45 minutes of being held hostage, one of the girls, Marian Fischer, discerned what was about to take place. Marian asked to be shot first, hoping that this would save the others. Her death saved no one. Marian was 13.

The shooter proceeded to methodically shoot all ten, one by one in the back of the head. Five have since gone to their rest. Five others survive in bodies broken by the force of a 9-mm, three-ounce slug fired at point-blank range.

The Amish had much to rail about, God for one. Why did the very One whom they worship permit this to happen to children, their children? And the murderer? Surely, they could wish for him hell's hottest torments. Maybe they could vent their anger against their community that teaches love and pacifism. All such were foreign to them.

What they did do was almost inconceivable. They forgave. Without bitterness toward God or man. Without hesitation, or constrained by conviction, they forgave freely. Soon after the ghastly event some went to the killer's very house and to his widow – for she, too, grieved deeply – and offered forgiveness.

A member of the community said this about the killer, "I wish someone could have helped him out, poor soul. It's obvious that something was troubling him."

Today, a vacant grass field marks the site of the demolished schoolhouse, a memorial to the slaughter of the innocents.

The Amish are small in number, unobtrusive, a religious folk who do not try to convert others to validate their beliefs. They are a pious people, who live the life they preach in good times and in bad. In their quiet way, they speak like that "still small voice" that spoke to the prophets Elijah, Ezekiel, and young Samuel three thousand years ago. It whispers even today, “There is a better way.” Little Marian knew that way.


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