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ACGA to farm organizations: 'Return the corporate money'

From a press release:
(Feb. 05, 2002) -- The American Corn Growers Association (http://www.acga.org) has called for an expansion of the statesmanship recently exhibited by members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, in light of questionable support from a large energy corporation, to the farm sector.

"We commend those Senators and Representatives who have either returned political contributions to the Enron Corporation or made donations of those contributions to support-funds established to assist the employees hard hit by the financial demise of the company," said Larry Mitchell, CEO of ACGA. "It is impressive to see such integrity in these times, and we commend their actions. These legislators can now more appropriately represent the voters who elected them to office. We now call upon organizations representing farmers to exhibit similar integrity by returning the financial donations from those corporations who are now prosecuting farm families."

Mitchell went on to explain that there are some farm organizations which have fallen into the quagmire of accepting large cash donations from the very corporations who are taking family farmers to court for exercising their centuries-old right to plant the seeds which they raised. "In order to properly represent farmers they serve, these organizations must divest themselves from any financial gains from those who continue their relentless persecution of family farmers," declared Mitchell.

In the new age of genetic modification and seed patenting, some companies are currently pursuing an oppressive campaign to ensure that farmers do not plant seeds raised on their own farms without paying substantial sums of money to those companies claiming to own an exclusive patent on the seed’s genetics. "An even worse scenario being played out all across rural America is when the genetic material contained in the pollen of a neighbor’s crop drifts onto the crop of a farmer who has not even planted a patented crop. When that farmer later plants the seed from the tainted crop, these companies have the audacity to prosecute the unsuspecting farmer. They even send hired private detectives onto the farms at night, sometimes illegally, in order to obtain plant tissue as a means to make their case."

"We feel these companies’ time and energy would be much better spent doing what they do best, providing crop protection products, hybrids and genetics that consumers want and farmers need," stated Mitchell. "These companies are, instead, making a public relations mistake by challenging the right of farmers to plant, in the following year, seed produced from crops they raised on their own land."

"This is unjust and inexcusable, but what is even more unfair is to allow these predatory companies to make large donations to farm organizations in order to buy their silence," said Mitchell. "It is time for farm organizations to show the same integrity as those in Congress and either return the money to those companies, or deposit it into a legal support fund for those farmers in trouble. Whether it’s genetically modified seed, with its extra fees, technology agreements and utility patents or the corporate concentration agenda to influence U.S. farm and trade policy, farm and commodity groups should cease accepting money from those agribusiness companies. How else can they properly serve the very farmers they represent?"

Contact: Larry Mitchell, 202.835.0330