|Banks County Opinions...||
August 22, 2001
By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
August 22, 2001
I've been slimed!
I was at the house subcommittee hearing on the house bill for farmers' rights recently. The room was filled with unknown "suits," company execs, subcommittee members, poultry farmers and the executive director of the Georgia Poultry Federation. Abit Massey was his name.
Now this man has a way with words. At 90 miles per hour, Massey rattled on about how happy the poultry farmers in Georgia were. He said, "I would submit to you that the poultry farmers of Georgia are a lot happier right now than many of you legislators sitting in this room today." (This was during the very trying time of reapportionment hearings in the house and senate.) While the legislators got a big laugh out of his "joke," the farmers present weren't laughing. They found no humor in the comment made at their expense, literally. The GPF is funded in part by "donations." These "donations" are, in fact, required and are based on a farmer's potential earnings. They pay his salary. He's supposed to be looking out for them. At least that's what one would assume.
"I don't know anything that's perfect," he said as he stood there next to me addressing the representatives. "We get a lot of calls from people who want to get in the business. Companies have waiting lists for people who want to get in the business." He said UGA had done a 10-year study and they found broilers had the highest probability of profit.
Hmm Was that highest probability of profit for the poultry farmers or the poultry companies? From the men who had just poured their guts out about how they'd been plucked by the industry, I figured he was talking about the companies.
Massey exclaimed, "The LAST thing a poultry company would do is cut off a farmer."
Hmmwell, that IS the last thing the poultry companies do. We all just heard how companies cut off farmers leaving them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts.
The gist of Massey's oration? To sum it up, something like - Legislation? They don't need no stinking legislation!
All of a sudden, I felt like I'd been SLIMED! Eeeewww! Slippery, slimy residue from his slippery, slimy words coated the room, hung in dripping globs from the lights in the ceiling. Massey suddenly transformed before my eyes into a money-green glob! Looked a lot like that little guy in GhostBusters. Relatives maybe?
Spoofin' aside, by using a little common sense, it would be in the poultry industry's and the legislators' best interests to treat the farmer better. Give the farmers a contract that's fair and equitable. If the state can legislate an organization like the Georgia Egg Association into existence and mandate egg farmers pay dues into it to keep it going, seems they could legislate a fair contract for poultry growers. Poultry giants could easily work with farmers to make farms profitable again.
They could also work with environmentalists and accept some of the responsibility for disposing of the waste and by-products that's not harmful to the land and water. Share some of the financial burden with the farmer.
If changes are not made, it may not be long before Georgia begins to lose all that ag income. And, oh my, what would happen to all those lobbyists running around? (Guess that would be a check in the "+" column.) Where would certain elected and appointed government officials get those little perks? Those weekend travel jaunts in private company jets? Those donations to campaign funds?
If the farmer goes, the product goes. If the product goes, the company goes. If the company goes, the money goes. If the money goes, the economy goes.
Where will we all be then?
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.
Nothing finer than
a tomato sandwich
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