Butz #2 06/13/76

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Butz #2 06/13/76 - McGovern: Butz is no Henry Wallace BUTZ...
McGovern: Butz is no Henry Wallace BUTZ Continued from Page One billion in 1970 to $26 billion now, and even after these figures are adjusted for inflation they reflect a nearly 20 per cent Increase, Exports, currently running at about $22 billion a year, have almost doublet. In 1970, the government government was paying farmers |3.7 billion billion in subsidies, mostly as an incentive not to plant. Now with 61 million more acres in production, subsidy payments have fallen to about |500 million mostly mostly to cotton, peanut, rice, and tobacco growers. L. Row to Row Grain farmers are planting "fence row to fence row," and the payments to them have nearly stopped. Last year, they harvested 1,8 billion bushels of com more than in 1970, and wheat production production was up 800 million bushels. America's grain production of 242 million million tons in 1975 represented an increase of 81 million tons from What it was in 1961. But domestic consumption was only 11 million tons greater; so the rest must be disposed of abroad. ' If the secretary is wrong, of course, and this summer's expected surplus cannot be disposed of, then the farmers' farmers' incomes could fall drastically. It is. possible, too, that domestic food prices would drop, although, because of the middle-man factor, that is not certain. Earl Butz has restored grain farm' farm' ers' pride in proving their enormous productive potential, and they love him. So do other prosperous farmers and the agribusiness complex of corporate corporate fruit and vegetable raisers, food processors and_distributors. He tells American farmers that they are the j last bastion of patriotism and hard work, and that the food they grow will be the key to world peace during the next quarter century. "You are the peackemakers! You are the most productive part of America! You haven't learned to punch the clock at 40 hours or put two farmers irt the tractor cab like the locomotive that goes through town ... You're working for yourselves, because you're trying to make a little money and save some of it." Roars of Approval The 1.2,500 members of the American American Farm.Bureau Federation to whom he addressed those remarks recently in Indianapolis roared their approval. ' They are making money now — and it was Butz who was there when the going got good. Fifty years ago Butz, as a teen-age boy, guided a horsedrawn plow-over the fields of northern Indiana. From there he went on to study agricultural economics, and-eventually he used his knowledge, along with his knack for political maneuvering and his quick wit, to forge a career that, in leading to Secretary of Agriculture Earl Bntz ... The first goal of every newly elected elected congressman is to become a senator. And the best way to become a senator ; is to get on TV and demagogue the food issue." ' ! This taste for confrontation played a i part in both his nomination in 1971 by j Richard Nixon and the subsequent bat: bat: tie in the Senate over his confirmation. He was named to succeed Clifford Har- Ldin..a.4uieLuniversity-chancellor type who lacked the combative nature i Nixon thought he needed in the 1972 election campaign. Congressional investigators estab- ; lished that in the massive 1972~grain ! sales to Russia the Agriculture Depart| Depart| ment did not inform farmers about the j pending sales and permitted the few i large grain exporters handling the sales secretly to buy up huge supplies in the commodity markets at factorable factorable prices. Moreover, the department paid hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies on the sales, enabling the companies to make additional profits and to keep the price to the-Rttssians- unrealistically low. From U.S. Stocks Finally, when some of the grain giants could not get_en.ough_wheat on the open market at prices they^wanted to pay, the Agriculture Department sold them TmIIfons~of bushels-from. government government stocks. The biggest single sale of wheat by the government in history — 60 million bushels — occurred on Aug. 31, 1972, to Continental Grain Company, one of the firms handling the his current post in the President's cabi net. included serving in positions as assistant agriculture secretary in the Eisenhower administration, dean of agriculture at Purdue University, and much-sought-after public speaker. One of his aides calls him an "encyclopedia "encyclopedia of funny stories," ~many ~of which, naturally, have to do with farm- j-Russian deal. ers. Such as: "I saw this farmer and I ; A year after Butz became secretary, Moines asked him, 'What's your hobby?' He said, 'Farming.' I said, 'What would you do if you inherited a million dollars?' He said, 'I'd keep on farming as long as the money lasted.'" His jokes have Occasionally gotten him into trouble — like the one in which he ridiculed the Pope's stand against artificial' birth control by saying: "He no play-a da game; he no make-a da rules." The remark brought a storm of protest from Catholics and Italian-Americans and resulted in one of Butz's rare apologies. apologies. Likes Confrontation But the man likes confrontation, and he uses it to disarm his critics. Hejis fond of the disparaging statement, he likes to question the political motives of those who disagree with ~ him. Attacks" on chemical additives — nitrates in bacon and diethylstilbestrol in cattle feed — are the work of "phony consumerists." Environmentalists who criticize pesticides and fertilizers and urge a return to organic farming "would condemn hundreds of millions of people to a lingering death by mal—nutrition mal—nutrition and starvation." State Department officials who meddle in agricultural .policy are "striped-pants boys." And congressmen who say food prices are too high are "demagogues department officials in Des received an unprecedented message from Washington: sell the millions of bushels of corn being held in government government storage. As it turned out, nearly all the corn was bought by giants of the 1 trade. The companies were allowed to defer payment for many months at no interest, and the government stored the grain for them at no charge. Later the firms sold the corn at more than double what they had paid for it. "As usual, the country dealers and farmers of Iowa got the short end of the stick," says former former Iowa Senator Harold Hughes. That was Butz's kind of deal, according according to the Farmers Union and the National Farmers Organization, groups that advocate moderate farm policies and that, in_tecenLyears,Jiaye_support=_ edJJemocrats. They are disturbed, too, by the continued exchange of top personnel personnel between the department and the big grain companies. Assistant Secretary Secretary Clarence Palmby, fdr instance, negotiated a credit deal with the Russians Russians in the spring of V972, and then took a job as vice-president of Continental Continental Grain. Took No Steps It later was shown that, with help from Continental officials, Palmby was .making arrangements for_establishing Continental's headquarters in New York, evfin before he went to Russia. Butz was said to be furious, but he took no steps to stop such shifting. He replaced Palmby with Carroll Brunthaver, Brunthaver, a former official, of Cook Industries, Industries, another leading graitrfTrm. And. Brunthaver has since returned to Cook. Many of the farmers themselves are beginning to agree~wHrTthe criticisms. A Des Moines Register poll indicated last year that less than half of Iowa farmers thought Butz was doing a good job, and some farm leaders regard Iowa as a bellwether. Robert Lewis of the Farmers Union and other farm leaders say the secretary's recent role in the presidential veto of higher milk- price supports, for example, raises new questions about his concern for small farmers, some of whom need government government help to stay on the land. Butz and the department hierarchy appear equally unconcerned over the plight of southern poultry farmers, who have in effect become employes of the ~1ar£e~ feed-processing companies. A ~Cutlman, Ala.rcontract grower whose attempt to organize poultry farmers was crushed by the processors (with some assistance, he charges, from the Agriculture Department) refers to his neighbors as "the last slaves in America." America." Economic studies indicate that poultry poultry farmer's are kept in virtual bondage, forced into ever-increasing debt as a condition for receiving each new con- i tract from the processors, then working working long days raising tens of thousands ! of company-owned chickens for pen- 1 nies an hour. . | "The Funeral Director" i j One of Butz's^chlef antagonists has ! been the Agribusiness Accountability j Project, which has traced the links i between the Agriculture Department, | the land-grant colleges and the I agribusiness industry. Susan Demarco, tary Butz is not the friend of the family farmers; he is their funeral director." In Its report. "Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times," the project stated, "there will be a million fewer farmers by 1910 for the same reason that there are three million fewer farmers today than in 1945 — because Earl Butz and company company will hot lift a finger to prevent it." When questioned about the problems iclrfaTnTCTST B'utrlends to brush the inquiries aside, saying only that some producers are "less efficient" than others. Perhaps the most widely shared complaint with Earl Butz Is that of the food shoppers over the skyrocketing j prices of food. "If you look back at I what got us into the food-price mess, the biggest single factor was the 1972 grain sale, and that was Earl Butz's baby," says Carol Foreman, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. Butz, who dismissed Foreman as a "phony" and "an arm of the Democratic Democratic Party," says consumer groups are wrong. "It's true that if we suddenly stopped exports, food prices would fall," he says, "but with falling prices paid to farmers, production the next year would be cut back. Farm costs, per unit of production, then would rise. Government subsidies would have to be reinstated and consumers ultimately would suffer in terms of food shortages, shortages, higher food prices and bigger tax burden." Calls Batz a Fraud Foreman calls Butz "a fraud when he says he's acting in the interest of farmers. He's a spokesman for the big corporate farmers, for the food processors processors and for the grocery people. He's not on the side of farmers or consum- ers.He's on the side of the people who buy from farmers and sell to consumers." consumers." George McGovern says that although Butz is often referred to as the greatest secretary of agriculture, he. isn't even in the same league with Henry Agard Wallace, who conceived and administered administered many innovative programs designed to lift farmers out of the Depression of the 1930s: "Wallace had a dimension that Butz can't even comprehend comprehend — the concept of food as a humanitarian instrument. The greatest source of unhappiness to Butz is the high percentage of the Agriculture Department taken up by food stamps, school lunch, and other nutrition and social programs. Wallace would have seen these as. the glory of his department." department." The Agriculture Department's cozy relationship with the half-dozen big grain exporters is to many people the most troubling aspect of Butz's reign. Critics say the department's lax supervision supervision of the grain exporters should have been known to Butz, because in the early 1970s the entire focus of the trade was on grain. But as expanding agricultural shipments boomed, the department loosened its surveillance over the process and ignored warnings from its own employes that grain inspectors might be taking bribes. inspection system that was the cause, Butz changed course. He first came out for abolishing private inspection agencies agencies and turning over all inspection to a new federal-state system. Blocked by White Home budget officials officials and by President Ford's uncompromising uncompromising stance against further government government regulation of business, Butz tried to patch up the grain inspection system by adding more federal supervisors. supervisors. He also came up with a weakly worded proposal to Congress to strengthen criminal penalties and minimize minimize conflicts of interest In inspection agencies, some of which had been owned by the same grain, firms whose products they inspected. Butz's bill was promptly ignored by Congress, which now is drafting a more "thorough "reform" measure. Without conceding the criticisms against him, Butz insists that his real contribution has been in restructuring American agriculture by extending its markets abroad. "Our productive capacity so far exceeds our capacity to consume," he says, "that we couldn't even eat all the wheat we grow if it were free." But increasing the U.S. exports has taken a certain wheeling and dealing. Although Butz publicly emphasizes that the United United States cannot and should not use what he, at the same time, frankly calls "agripower" as a weapon, he is fond of noting that Romanian Agriculture Agriculture Minister Miculescu once told him "You've got a weapon more powerful than the atom bomb; you've got soy beans." "Language of Food" Minimized It When major corruption at the grain ports was revealed publicly early in 1975, Butz's initial reaction was to minimize minimize it and to stress that only a small percentage of inspectors had been accused of crimes. As the scandal spread to include nearly all the major grain companies, and as it became Butz took two days off from chairing the Rome World Food Conference two years ago and went to Cairo "with a little wheat in my pocket — They had the red carpet out for me there. I wen 1 to Syria. I got a royal welcome — no because I was secretary of agriculture. I was speaking the languge of food, and they understood." Some world food organizations are concerned, not only because of American American fuzziness at Rome but also because of the tendency of the United States to sign long-term supply agreements with people who pay cash for grain/The United States now has commitments to supply about 25 million tons a year to the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania, Japan and Israel. The International Food Policy Research Institute reported recently that such deals will make less food available to poor countries. But Butz is more interested in cash sales than in humanitarian give-aways, a view that has led to charges that he is oblivious to world hunger. And during his tenure he has played a leading policy role in the decisions that sent a disproportionate disproportionate share of Food-for-Peace aid to right-wing governments, including those of South Korea, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Chile. The events that really led to Butz's predominance in the United States government's government's international-agriculture decisions began early last summer when it became clear the Russians would need grain. Butz decided that America could sell them 10 million tons right away, then embargo further shipments, but possibly resume them in September after the effects of this country's drought could be more accurately accurately gauged. He told department officials to handle handle sales to Russia quietly through the private grain companies. He wanted all this done without fanfare, but lost control control when Federal Reserve Chairman -Arthur Burns predicted the sales would drive American food prices higher. The maritime unions seized the opportunity to press for more favorable shipping •tea by refuting to load grain bound for Russia '•laid tainted George Meany expressed concern, IK) the state Department got Into the ct, notifying the Polish Embasty in Washington that their country, too, would be included in the grain-eiport embargo. Butz was furious. He had argued the issue before the White House Food Policy Group, then chaired by Kissinger, and thought he had converted converted everyone. It was obvious, however, that policy decisions in this area were being made at the State Department. High Agrictd- ure Department officials began refua- ng to answer questions relating to grain sales to'Bnssia and to Eastern European countries, saying sarcastically sarcastically that the "diplomats" had taken over. "He thinks using grain in foreign policy is really a fun game," one department official said of Kissinger. Even after sales to Russia and Poland were finally resumed, the White House was bombarded with an unending stream of criticism from farm organizations. An agicultural "hot line" to Washington was estaft- lished by the Agriculture Council of America, and thousands of calls poured in to farm leaders and congressmen manning the phones. Republican senators in Kansas and Oklahoma Warned Presidenf Ford's political advisers that they had better do something to prevent losing traditional traditional GOP support in the Midwest, the result was that Butz replaced Kissinger as chairman of the newly named White House Agricultural Policy Committee. An administration official who has watched Butz during such White House meetings,iays, "He is very quick, which is important in the infighting. And he knows how to lose battles so he can win wars." The combative Earl Butz is now being drawn into presidential-campaign presidential-campaign warfare this year as he was in 1972, when cornbelt fanners were told: "Re-elect Nixon or Lose Your Butt." But it remains to be seen how much help he can be. Ronald Reagan notes Butz's continued continued popularity among many farmers and frequently praises him in Midwest campaign speeches. But Jimmy Carter repeatedly says that one of his first acts as President would be to replace Butz, and Carter's first big boost came in the January caucuses in Iowa. Gerald Gerald Ford dispatches Buti to farm states, where sometimes Ford has been successful in the primaries, as in Illinois, Illinois, and sometimes not, as in Indiana and Nebraska. . ,; In Omaha, President Ford cam-" 1 paigned with Butz at his side and told a i farm audience: "I'd hate to see a .good. team broken up in the middle of the game." Paul. Johnson, a livestock- association official, said later that he wasn't sure whether to support Ford or Reagan, "but keeping Ford so we can keep Earl Butz might make up my mind." The President says he respects Butz's ability to influence the farm vote, and Ford agrees philosophically philosophically with the secretary's free-market j views. Butz, who once called Richard Nixon "one of the greatest Americans of this century," now says he has "very good rapport" with Gerald Ford. "We think alike. He's the kind of man 1 love to work with. Coming back on Air Force One from campaigning in Illinois, I was having dinner with the President, just the two of us, and be said, 'I appreciate what you're doing for me.' I said, 'Look, I'm not doing this for you; I'm doing this for America.'" a founder of the project, says, "Secre- i clear that it was the conflict-ridden MIX 'N MATCH DOUBLEKNITS Jacquard patterned coordinates

Clipped from
  1. The Des Moines Register,
  2. 13 Jun 1976, Sun,
  3. Page 3

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