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May 1988

President's Report (Arlene Ellis)
Committees and Board Assignments '88
Council 88
Consensus on the Role of the Federal Government in Agriculture
Federal Agriculture Policy (Jim Koshi)
Help Wanted
Be a Part of the Aloha Voter
National LWV - News Release
Return of TheBus to Hotel Street Transit Mall
Roster Update - September, 1987 - April, 1988

Federal Agriculture Policy

On May 14, 1988, we will be holding a consensus meeting to reach a consensus on Federal Agriculture Policy. One may ask, "Why should the League of Women Voters care about U.S. agricultural policy?" Anyone who eats or pay taxes should know that the federal agricultural policies are central to the lives of every American citizen. These policies are generally considered as confusing, contradictory, expensive and frequently self-defeating--affecting jobs, the environment, trade, international relations, health, the economy and our standard of living. Some experts have said that since the economics of farming is so hard to understand it is one of the most complicated, controversial and confusing subjects in the world.

The challenge facing policy makers is to formulate food and agricultural policy that considers such issues as: structural changes in the farm sector--the predominance of large specialized farms; farm credit problems; the linkage between domestic farm programs and agricultural trade policies; the appropriate size of food reserves needed to achieve the level of price and supply stability desired; the impact of technological changes and new economic conditions; and the balance between efforts to promote agriculture production and natural resource conservation and the cost to the taxpayer.

Most current farm programs are direct descendants of programs of the 1930's. They are oriented toward commercial producers of program commodities. Within limits, the more of a commodity a producer grows, the more assistance the producer receives. It is stated that farming is the most heavily-subsidized industry in America. Almost 26 billion dollars of taxpayers' money went to farmers in 1986. Sixty percent of farm profits came not from the soil, but from the U.S. Treasury.

Most experts agree that farming is different. It does need some protection from weather, from worldwide crop and price fluctuations and from the subsidy programs of other countries.

As you can see, it is not difficult to see why experts say that the economics of farming is one of the most complicated, controversial, and confusing subjects in the world. So we are faced with a challenge of trying to understand enough to voice our opinion of the role of the federal government in agriculture.

We can prepare ourselves by reading the following:

1. National Voter January 1988. In my opinion it is the best source of information to get one started.

2. National Voter Feb/Mar 1987. "Borrowed Money, Borrowed Time."

3. National Voter Aug/Sep 1986. "Perspectives on Agriculture"

4. Any other material on agriculture that interests you.

There is no end to reading materials available, but there is a limit to what one can read for this specific purpose. Read what you can and come to discuss the issues with us.

Following meetings are scheduled:

1. Agr Com meeting Thurs May 5th at 1:PM at League office

2. Agr Com meeting Thurs May 12th at 1:PM at League office

3. CONSENSUS MEETING Sat May 14 at 9:30-12 at McCully/Moiliili Library.

Everyone, please study the consensus form carefully and come to the consensus meeting on May 14th prepared to discuss the issues. You are also welcome to the committee meetings on the 5th and the 12th.

Jim Koshi
April 25, 1988

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