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Voice: Garcia's opinions on farmers baseless

December 17, 2001

In response to John Garcia's Nov. 29 letter, "Don't trust farmers who want to eliminate IID jobs," Mr. Garcia's lack of correct facts and figures about farming and farmers is disturbing and misleading.

First, I'm confused by his use of "an annual gross net income of $300 …" per acre. Basically, income is listed as gross or net, not gross net. I agree that $150,000 net income would be considered a good income by many. In truth, most farmers are struggling to make any profit at all and many have borrowed against their equity just to stay in business.

Second, the government does not provide low-interest loans for our operating costs. Low-interest loans for producers of specific crops are available only to those who qualify when enrolled in strictly enforced federal farm programs and only for a limited storage time after harvest and until sold. Other low-interest loans to farmers are reserved for disaster situations.

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I had a disaster loan once and hope I never have to use one again, because I only qualified for it because of the devastation caused to my cotton crop by Tropical Storm Doreen in 1977.

Mr. Garcia also states that farmers are provided "… cheap labor" from the government. Where does he get this information? No cheap labor is provided to us. Farmers here must pay California's state-mandated minimum wage or more, depending on the employee's skills and/or supply and demand.

Growers are not allowed to hire illegal aliens, as John incorrectly asserts. We are closely regulated by the Department of Labor, the INS, Department of Housing, federal, state, and county agriculture departments and Cal-OSHA, just to name a few.

Third, Mr. Garcia's grouping or categorizing of farmers into three groups is also false. The farmers that fit mostly into his first group are the ones that are pushing the efficiency study of the Imperial Irrigation District, except that we are not happy with the income we make, we have had to weather too many bad years and we are not confident we can hang on until the next good year. We are forced to become more efficient and that is what we are demanding from the district.

Writers of letters to this newspaper are encouraged to express their opinions. However, facts and figures should be verified before stating them in print. Mr. Garcia appears to not know the truth about farming and I doubt he could quickly understand the complexities of agriculture.

The Imperial County Farm Bureau would like John Garcia to attend our next monthly meeting so he can meet a good cross-section of local farmers and learn the truth.

MICHAEL COX

President

Imperial County

Farm Bureau

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