Volume 6, Number 12                                  March 5, 2003

The Farmer


Planned Economies or "Smoking Guns"

by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad

I was in an Internet discussion recently where certain age old apologies were presented that attempted to explain away the plight of the Black farmers as just a case of being out of step. He stated:

"Unfortunately, due to size advantages of larger and more industrial farming outfits, Black farms will have a tough time competing...In essence, these farms must obsolete themselves and take on a new structure of business or be obsoleted and be vanquished forever."

In other words, itís the victimsí fault. What if this "obsolete"-ness was planned by a hostile government? Would that change the perspective?

Then this past weekend I attended a Black economic summit in Columbus, Ga. The head of the local Chamber of Commerce stated that in the Columbus area only 10% of the Black owned businesses hired more than one person, while over 50% of Asian businesses in this same area hired more than one employee. Another presenter stated that he was married to a Vietnamese and that she would drive to another city or state just to buy from another Vietnamese. Could Asians be following some type of "race-first philosophy" or as so-called white people and "Negroes" call it "reverse racism"?

Now the reason for the pitiful economic state of Black farms and Black businesses can be summed up as, "Black farmers and businesses are too small and inefficient to compete and it is racist for Black people to go out of their way to help them out." No wonder Black people have a hard time figuring out what to do in America, while foreigners come here and "make it big".

In my struggle to "pin the tail on the donkey" or find the agricultural policy "smoking gun" pointed at the Black farmer, I had to go on a journey from Gore Vidal, to Timonthy McVeigh, to Joel Dyer and finally to the "Committee on Economic Development" 1962 report entitled "AN ADAPTIVE PROGRAM FOR AGRICULTURE." This report was used to shape agricultural policy for the last half of the 20th century.

A few quotations from this 1962 report are in order:

"Net migration out of agriculture has been going on for 40 years, and at a rapid rate. Nevertheless, the movement of people from agriculture has not been fast enough...The adaptive approach utilizes positive government action to facilitate and promote the movement of labor and capital where they will be most productive and will earn the most income."

This "adaptive approach" recommended that vocational agriculture courses in rural areas be scrapped, agricultural prices be substantially lowered and temporary income programs be instituted to protect the most suited for survival. In addition, more surpluses should be dumped on developing nations, consumer prices should be kept low, rural electrification should be slowed down and rural workers moved to be factory workers in the cities. These measures, according to this report, would "Reduce Farm Labor Force by One-third in Five Years." Remember this was in 1962.

What this report failed to tell us was that the "income protection programs" were to be administered by the USDA on local levels by "county committees" consisting in the South of racist so-called white landowners. Therefore as the prices and resources were being lowered for all farmers, so-called white farmers in the South would be able to determine who would survive this war of attrition by controlling the government hand-outs.

The result has been that Black farmers have lost another 6 million acres of land from 1960 to 1997. The chart below tracks the "parity ratio" (a ratio of farm prices received divided by cost of non-farm products bought) and the acres of Black farm land measured in millions. As one can see, as the parity ratio goes down so does the acres of Black farmland owned. When the parity ratio spikes up, Black farmland ownership rebounds. In 1960 the parity ratio was about .8, which means that farms were 8/10ths as profitable as they were in 1910, while in 1997 they were only 4.5/10ths as profitable.

However, more white farmers were able to survive, prosper and grow because they were beneficiaries of a government policy of wealth redistribution from the Black to the white. As an example, white farmers were given four times more government subsidies in the 10 year period from 1982 to 1992 on a per acre basis than was given to Black farmers ($1023 verses $274). At the same time, the Reagan administration ("the hostile government") in 1983 got rid of the Civil Rights Division of the USDA, so that not a "mumbling word" could be heard from these Black farmers as they languished on this "adaptive approach" cross.

So while we were taught to hate "communists" and "planned economies", the "hidden hand" of white capitalism and racism was working in the dark on government advisory boards such as the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Now who and what is the Committee for Economic Development (CED)? Answer: the big corporate bosses. In their own words:

"CEDís work is supported by voluntary contributions from business and industry. It is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and nonpolitical

The Trustees, who generally are Presidents or Board Chairmen of corporations and Presidents of universities are chosen for their individual capacities rather than as representatives of any particular interests."

From their www.CED.org web site we learn that it is still doing policy research on such issues as welfare reform, judicial selection, campaign finance, international policy, immigration, health care and social security. Of course the CED is not the only such "think tank". There are many including the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) whose suggestion that America go to the war with Iraq was rejected by President Clinton but accepted by President Bush. Of course it would be hard for Bush not to accept their analyses since they now have prominent seats in his cabinet. Their acronym of "PNAC" is close enough to "PANIC" for me.

Therefore the Black farmers and family farmers in general did not have a chance against the CED and other "think tanks" who controlled the wealth, the education and the politics behind the scenes of both "parties". Even when you catch these "devils" red handed as was done in the case of Enron and the California "energy crisis", this new set of policy shapers now have the power to not only keep the plans for your future a secret, they can also hide in anonymity thanks to "the powers that be", such as Vice-president Cheney. He was even able to crush the GAO suit which aimed to make him just give us the names of this administrationís "Energy Advisory Board." Wow, Stalin would be proud.