People & Land - Volume 1 Number 1 - Summer 1973 OCR Reduced

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Magazine for land reform in the United States.
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  People & Land is a new newspaper of as yetundetermined frequency. It is not an environment al publication, though it will be concerned with environmental issues. Its subject, as its name implies, is the relationship between people and land. In theprocess of covering this subject, it will deal withsuch matters as corporatepower, taxes and government policy generally. We begin publication at a precarious time inerican history. The dictates of our economyhave forced millions of Americans off the land andintocrowdedcities.Those who remain on the land/are among the poorest,most exploited of our citizens.Theexploitationand the exodus can be stopped--butonly if concerned farmers,farmworkersandenvironmentalists, whites,blacks,chicanos and Indians, join together in the struggle.A common theme throughout this and fu- tureissues is thatallregions of the United Statesface the same essential pJoblem: the takeover bywealthyoutside interests of landand resourcesthat shouldbelong to thepeople. We hope that v I I People & Land will serve as a link between -···--~·~~. andorganizationsinvolved in the landmovement in different ways and in different of thecountry.This first issue has been produced by people in the San Francisco area and focuses chiefly onthe First National Conference on Land Reform,which took place in San Francisco April 25-28. We want articles in future issues to. be written bypeople all over the country, and invite our readersto sendusstories,newsitems,photographs,ideas, whatever. {Y  < CONTENTS 1973 Land Reform Conference ............ . ..... 2This Land is NotOur Land.;........................ 3, New Deal Land Reform.;............................. 6 Land Reform in Other Countries................. 7 How Rich People Farm the Treasury........... 8 Quotes from Then and Now........................ 8 Subsidies: The Biggest Get the Mostest........ 9 Tenneco Bids Farewell to Family Farm....... 9 Fred Harris Runs It Down .......................... 10 New Approach to Indian Lands .................. II Holding Land in Trust.................................12How It Is in South Texas............................12Local Control of Energy Resources .......... .. 13The Earth Needs Land Reform .................., 13 What Is To Be Done? .................................. 14 Declaration of Principles ..... ..................... 15 People (photos) ......................... .. ... .. ....... .. 16Land (photos)........................................... 17 Those High Fot5d Prices.............................18Del Monte vs. Food Action Campaign ....... 18Notes from All Over -I .............................. 19 Special Supplement: Land Reform Papers . 20 How We Gave Away the Land .................... 20 Our Coal, Water and Trees ......................... 20 The Law Says 160 Acres............................ 21 Feudal Prairies ..................................... ~·-·· 22Keeping Appalachia's Wealth At Home ...... 22One, Two, Many TVA's.............................23Machines and Men.......................................23 USDA Fairy Tales ...................................... 23 Farmers as Pawns ....................................... 24 Reform, Don't Kill Farm Subsidies............ 24 Subsidy Limits Aren't Enough ...................25 Leaping Loopholes! .................................... 25Sharing Nature's Gifts ................................ 26 Taxes for Land Acquisition ....................... 26Up the Subdividers!...................................27Land Reform Tastes Good ......................... 27Building Land Trusts................................. 28 How To Redistribute ................................. 28 A Land Reform Act................................... 29 list of Available Papers .............................. 30 Get Involved! List of Active Groups ........... 30 Notes From All Over - II ............................. 31 ~e Inevitable Coupon ............................... 31 PEOPLE& LAND NEWSPAPER OP THE LAND REFORM MOVEMENT Volume !/Number 1 Summer 1973 Published by the Center for Rwal Studies, 345 Pnnklin Street, San Pnncilco, Catifomia 94102. Editor This Issue: Peter Barnes Art: Valerie Stubbs, Sharon SteinPhotography: Bob Fitch, Richard Conrat, Karl Limvere. Dorothea Lange photos courtesy of the Oakland Museum.Typography: Constance WigginsContributors: Larry Casalino, Sara Clarenbach,Barbara Cohn, Sue Hestor, Jon Hiatt, Orville Schell, Warren WeberPrinled atRapid Printers & Lithographers,Hayward, California --a union shop.Mailed free to persons in the land reform move· ment. Additional copies may be purchasedfor 50 cents each. Bulk rates upon request.Articles, photographs, correspondence invitedfor future issues. Panelists at First National Conference on Land Reform. From left: JimWilliam Friedland (partially obscured), Randall Torgerson, A.J. McKnight, E. W. Smith. The Conference That Was The First National Conference on Land Re form took place in San Francisco late last April. It was a hectic four-day affair with nearly two dozen-panels,--wttrkshops-ancHuncheon- r.Subfect discussed included everything from the plight of the family farmer to the techniques of organizingin Appalachia. There was also an excellent photo exhibit and an evening of land reform films. About 400 people came to the conferencefrom 42 states, Chile and Israel. At the conclusion of the conference there was agreement on a declaration of principles (p. 15) and a commitment to keep in touch. It was felt that the main task overthe next few years will be organizing at the localand regional levels. It would be impossible to ut together a_ ~ document that fully captured the flavor and con- tent of all that transpired at the land reform conference. Nevertheless, in this issues of People & lAnd we'll try our best. Beginiling on Page 3 isa series of reports about panel discussions and other highlights of the conference. If you were there; these reports should revive some memories. If you weren't there, theywill tell you, in brief, what went on.~ A Reporter's Assessment If not yet a national movement, the concern over rural reform in the United Statesmoved onto a decidedly larger stage with the recent San Francisco conference. Some 400 were in attendance, whereas barely ISO had been anticipated. At this conference, Californians and Midwesterners heard of the successful controlsover land use in Vermontand of zoning inHawaii and of the rising hostility to the corporate dominance of the potato fields and timberlands of Maine. Montanans, worried overthe effect of large resort developments on landholdings of the Burlington Northern, heard of measures triedin Arizona and of parallel problems in New Mexico. Atthe same time, they exchanged strip-mining information with speakers from Appalachia. North Dakota's prohibitions against farm ownership by corporations(thestatutedates back to Depression days)were heartening precedent for those eager to see Congress adopt such a position.The Conference generated wider understanding of'ind support for bills, now in Congress, which would place obstacles in the way of corporate farming; it noted especially the Family Farm Act sponsored by Sen. GaylordNelson of Wisconsin and Sen. James Abourezk of South Dakota. It strongly opposed stripmining. It dwelt at length on indices suggesting that corporate farming is, as Senator Harris put · it, only more efficient at farming Washington. It exposed reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has understated the extent of conglomerate intrusion into agriculture and the implications of such dominance.But the most important thing the conference did was bring together so many peoplewho perceive that the American people arerapidly losing their relationship to the land. Thescope of attendance and its concern for hardfacts dealing with economics and taxation suggest a core of interest which will ultimatelyreach the politicians. -Mary Ellen Leary The Nation, June 4, 1973 '  People cl lAnd/Summer . 197 .3 Regional Reports This Land Is Not Our Land W ho owns the land and resources of theUnited States? A series of regionalreports to the First National Conference onLand Reform gave the answer. Though thecast of characters differs from region toregion, the plot is depressingly the same:big absentee owners exploit both land andpeople with little regard for the environment or human well-being. New E _ ngland G eorge III was an absentee landowner, beganGeoffrey Faux, former head of economic de- velopment for OEO and presently with the Exploratory Project for Economic Alternatives. Wethink we've made progress, but after 200 yearswe've traded one set of absentee landowners foranother: George III for Chase Manhattan andScott Paper and ITT and Merrill Lynch. The re-colonization of New England began in the late 19th Century when paper companies·began buying large tracts of land in the northerncounties. Today a dozen paper companies ownmore than half the land in Maine. The Great Northern Nekoosa Company, headquartered in NewYork, owns more than a million. Other large landowners include Scott Paper, St. Regis Paper, Georgia-Pacifica, Diamond International and ITT.These paper companies trade townshipsthe way kids trade cards in Monopoly games, Faux said. Among the losers are those who cutthe wood. The price the paper companies pay towoodcutters is about the same as it was 20 yearsago . And the paper companies now have company. The demand for recreational land has lureddevelopers into Vermont, New Hampshire andMaine, eager to despoil the environment for aquick dollar. Along the coast, energy companieslike Pittston Coal, which brought Appalachia theBuffalo Creek disaster, are moving in on Maine'sdeepwater harbors to build their refineries. Land speculation has reached almost epidemic proportions in many parts of the region.This pushes up taxes and rents and the cost of living to the point where rural people are literallybeing driven from their homes. As in other places, the family farm in New England is rapidly becoming a curiosity. In potatoes, blueberries and fishing, the corporations aretaking over. Even the simple enjoyment of the woodsand the fields is being shut off. People who usedto be able to hunt and fish and roam around in thewoods are now being faced by barbed wire and signs reading, 'Keep Out-No Trespassing.' Out of Even the simple enjoyment of the woods andfields is being shut off. People who used tohunt and fish are now faced with barbed wireand 'No Trespassing' signs. 3500 miles of coastline in Maine, only about 100 are open to the public today.'' As remedies, Faux suggested a progressiveproperty tax, an unearned increment tax on theincrease in land values, and the closing of tax loopholes which make it profitable for corporations toinvest in land. We also need alternative institutions forworking the land, he told the conference.This means local control of resources and development so that benefits can be distributed locally. We have to develop land trusts, cooperatives andlocal community development corporations forfarming, timber and fishing.''Some land reform efforts have already begun in New England, Faux reported. Maine saw itsfirst statewide land reform conference this spring.Represented were farmers, woodcutters, fishermen, environmentalists andavariety of Maine people. Up in Aroostock County, where we growrocks and potatoes, in that order, a large out-ofstate corporation recently acquired a group of small potato processors. The first thing the corporation did was to lay off some workers and cutthe price it offered to farmers for potatoes. Theworkers struck the plant, and the farmers organized a boycott. In the past there hasn't been a lot of na- tural alliance between workers and farmers. Butfinally, perhaps for the first time, they're beginning to understand that they have a commonenemy, and they've begun to talk to each other.It's only a beginning, but we feel good about it. South A t this time in history whites own more of North America than ever, reported RobertBrowne, director of the Black Economic ResearchCenter and a founder of the Emergency LandFund. Historically, the black community in America had been closely tied to the land. The job of slaves, and after the Civil War, of sharecroppersand tenant farmers, was to till the land. In 1910, blacks were operating 890,000farms in the South. Of these, 218,000 were fullyor partly owned, while the rest were operated bytenants. Without benefit of the Homestead Act,and often in the face of hostility and violence,blacks nevertheless managed to become full orpart owners of 15 million acres of Southern land in 1910. But that was the peak. By 1950, blackland ownership had declined to 12 million acres,and in 1969 it was down to 5.5 million acres. What separated blacks from their land? Thechief forces were racial and economic, thoughthey have shifted over the years. Theexodus of blacks from the rural South was stimulated duringthe two World Wars by the pull of job opportunities in western and northern factories. But thegreat black trek to the cities during the 1950'sand 1960's was stimulated by the push of farmmechanization and set-aside programs.''Many poor and elderly blacks are losingland today because of failure to pay taxes ontime, Browne said. The Emergency Land Fund is trying to stop this trend by providing financialand legal aid.The land lost by blacks in the South has notgone to poor whites, Browne noted. Primarily ithas gone to wealthy whites and large corporations. He proposed a Southern land bank to buy bankland in the South and redistribute it to low-incomepeople. At the end of the Civil War there was agreat deal of talk about giving blacks 40 acres anda mule, rather than just freeing them and givingthem nothing. Of course nothing was done. Thisfailure to give blacks their own land is the root of many of the problems in the South and in the ci ties today, Browne concluded. Appalachia A ppalachia is a rural but mostly non-farm re- gion that stretches from New York to Ala- bama, embracing parts of 13 states and a steadilydeclining population of 15 million. Its land is beautiful and rich with minerals, timber and water re- sources. But as Paul Kaufman, director of the Ap- palachian Research and Defense Fund, told theland reform conference, the wealth of the land is matched by the poverty of the people. The reason is that the land and its resources are not owned bythe people, but by large out-of-state corporations. Without benefit of the Homestead Act, blacksbecame full or part owners of 15 million acres.Today they own only 5.5 million acres. The great Appalachian heartland is ruled by King Coal, with throne rooms in New York, Pittsburg and Chicago. Sharing his dominion are utilityand manufacturing firms which have the same exploitative goals. These companies get rid of workers as fast as they can find machines to replace them, Kaufman contended. As a result, unemployment is highand in some areas one out of four families is onwelfare. Please turn to next page.  Page4 Bob Fitch People & lAnd/Summer 1973 ,.-' (J ,,,,.... , . ~ . .. .' '' ..-.' ,.;. ~ . f .. ,ã r!; to use itfor people? Colonias del Valle is fightingto get decent water systems installed in MexicanAmerican communities.Another controversy in the Southwest concerns the ejidos, or common lands, that were granted in perpetuity to Hispanic communities by theSpanish and Mexican governments. Many Chicanoscontend that these lands were stolen in violation of of the 1848 treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, whichprotected the rights of former Mexican citizens.The fight over the ejido lands is most heatedin northern New Mexico, where per capita annualincome is about $700. Sixty percent of the land innorthern New Mexico is owned by the U.S. ForestService, much of it former ejido land. In 1965, theForest Service reduced grazing and timber cuttingpermits by 45 percent. One effect of the cutback was to drive 20,000 people from the northerncounties.Another was to give impetus to ReiesTijerina's Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libres. Midwest From left: Sheldon Greene, Fred Harris, Raul Yzaguirre, Robert Browne, Peter Barnes. T e ~~~e · ~. is a~ _ area wh~re most of ~e land ts still.m pnvate ownership, where mmmg Regional Reports, continued. The coal and power companies are interested in one thing-profits. These profits soaredlast year, Kaufman said, and part of the reason was exports: despite the alleged energy crisis, U.S.companies exported 37 million tons of coal fromAppalachia last year.·The absentee colonizers of Appalachia nei-ther pay a fair share of taxes nor obey the mostbasic laws. At one time not too long ago, West Virginia collected less in taxes from the coal industry than it did from the sale of liquor-and mind you, moonshiners don't pay taxes. While coal miners are sent to jail for protesting unsafe working conditions, coal companiesdefy government safety laws with impunity. Pittston, with more than 5,000 violations of the Federal Mine Health and Safety Act, has been fined $1 million-but hasn't paid a penny. Consolidation Coal owes the state of West Virginia morethan $20,000 in fines for hundreds of safetyviolations. Since.Mexicans areno better than Indians,I see no reason not to take their land. How can this be? The explanation lies in thecozy relationship between Appalachia's politicaland economic power structures. Kaufman ranthrough an astounding list of conflicts of interest.The former chief of the reclamation division of West Virginia's Department of Natural Resourcesbecame director of the states's Surface (strip)Mining Association. The president of the AmherstCoal Company is a member and former chairmanof the West Virginia Air Pollution Control Commission: The chairman of the West Virginia SenateCommittee on Natural Resources is a Union Oil distributor. The executive vice-president of Consolidation Coal and the counsel for Humble Oilare both former West Virginia tax commissioners.And the list goes on.Kaufman urged enactment of a federal sev- erance tax on all extractive industries, as proposed by Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana; abolition of strip mining except when total restoration can becarried out promptly and effectively; elimination of industry representatives from all regulatoryagencies; and establishment of an AppalachianMountain Authority, similar to TVA but ownedby the residents of Appalachia rather than thefederal government. Southwest T he Southwest has always been a colonizedland, said Raul Yzaguirre, director of theInterstate Research Association. The first coloniallandlords were the Spanish and Mexicans, who atleast granted property rights to settlers and communities.Next came the Anglo cattlemen andspeculators, whose motto was summed up bySam Houston: Since Mexicans are no better thanIndians, I see no reason not to take their land. The present colonizers of the Southwest,said Yzaguirre, are the bigmoney boys, especial ly the oil companies and corporate farms. Thesecorporations receive huge subsidies in the form of tax loopholes and crop payments. One of the latest subsidies is the rent-a-cow scheme throughwhich wealthy city-slickers become instant cowboys for the sake of avoiding taxes (see page 8).The big Texas ranchers now have their eyeon another soak-the-treasury scheme: a multi-billion dollar aqueduct from the Mississippi River to west Texas. Ranchersin west Texas are nowpumping underground water that is non-renewable. By state estimates, there will not be enough waterleft in 12 years to support farming or cattle. So the farmers are pushing for the canal. This wouldbe money from your pocket and my pocket tosubsidize the big corporatefarmers of Texas. Another struggle over water is taking placein the Rio Grande Valley, Yzaguirre said. Therethe issue is clear: are we going to use publicly subsidized water for cattle and crops, or are we goinghas had only a limited impact thus far, and wherethe family-type farm is the basic unit, reportedRoger Blobaum, a consultant to the NationalFarmers Organization.Despite the prevalence of the family farmunit, the trend toward bigness and corporate control is evident, Blobaum said. A recent reportshows, for example, that nearly all the growth incattle feeding is in lots with a capacity of 8,000head or more. Most of the poultry and much of the eggs formerly produced on family'farms'ltavepassed to feed suppliers and poultry product processors. An attempt is being made to producepork in factory-like set-ups. Despite these trends, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Secretary Earl Butz continueto deny that a corporate threat exists, citing a USDA study on corporate farms. This study hasbeen thoroughly discredited by Prof. Richard D. Rodefeld of Michigan State, Blobaum said. In an analysis of corporation tax returns inWisconsin, Rodefeld found, among other things,that the USDA study had missed 252 farm corporations altogether. He also found that the USDA had underestimated the total number of acresowned by corporations by 37 percent, acres rentedby 269 percent, number of cattle fed by 80 percent, and acres of vegetables by 37 percent. A county-by-county survey of land ownership by the Kansas Farm Project found 28 corporationsowning in excess of 5,000 acres. This is inspite of the fact that Kansas has a law banning corporate involvement in most farm production areasand putting a 5,000-acre limit on their landholdings. Some Midwest states have taken steps to curb the corporate invasion, or at least expose it.North Dclkota voters recently reaffirmed the state's 35-year-old ban on corporate agriculture by an overwhelming margin. The Minnesota legisla-.ture passed a law requiring all corporations owingor leasing farm land to file reports on these hold ings each year. Similar disclosure bills, and severaldifferent versions of the Family Farm Act, have al-so been introduced in Midwest legislatures. West Virginia collected less in property taxesfrom the coal industry than from the sale of liquor. And moonshiners don't pay· taxes.
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