1985 Sept 29 – 26th Sun Ord Time (Bulletin Letters)
The Farm Struggle/The Week in Review:
As you might have guessed, the press conference for the Sullivan’s was cancelled. The Court hearing was postponed. We decided not to proceed with the press conference in order to give the Sullivan’s as much time as they can to work with their creditors.
Of course, calling off a press conference hours before it was scheduled was no small feat for the ‘organizer’. Fr. Frank was really hopping Monday afternoon! The prepared statement did not go to waste. It was in all the bulletins in the county and served as a good educational tool for our people. At the Regional Priest meeting this week in Harlan, it was suggested that I write up a brief explanation of some key concepts that have to do with direct non-violent means of intervention, like civil disobedience and non-violence. I’ll be working on them this coming week and try them out on you next week in the bulletins.
The overnight at St. Thomas More brought together a small but significant group of people. It was a unique experience. There were twelve people who participated, including Bishop Dingman. We had farmers, clergy, rural lay advocates and seasoned veterans of non-violence and civil disobedience campaigns. The best thing about the small number of participants was the full participation in the discussion by everyone present. We all had a chance to listen and hear each ones perspective. I want to especially thank Floyd Neilsen and George Barry for being with us. Their input was most important.
An idea sprang from our efforts. Admitting there are many facets and sides to the current rural crisis, we believe there is a need to raise the human side of the issue. With each family farming unit and rural business closing, our greatest fear is that a corporate model of farming will take over our lands. We are proposing to start a Minimum Loss Campaign, a 1985 Homestead Movement. Every family farming unit who is losing everything should be given a second chance to stay in farming. Allow them to keep their homestead – their home, farm buildings and the immediate 40 acres on which their home rests. They should be allowed to rent the farmland they owned with the first option to buy. If this were allowed, intact family farming units would be able to stay on their land. By giving them first option to buy the land back, this would safeguard against the corporate takeover of our land. Most farmers in trouble these days are in trouble because of their debt load and low farm prices. Most are good farmers and would be the best folks to keep farming their own land. It’s an idea that deserves looking into. We can’t expect the folks in Washington to accept it until we accept it ourselves.
The prayer vigil at the Court House this Friday was good. About 25 folks were on hand. We planted 74 crosses in the lawn to symbolize the 74 sheriff sales in Harrison County over the last five years. These crosses represent farms, homes, properties and businesses lost over the last five years. Channel 7 from Omaha covered the event. There are three more sheriff sales scheduled for the month of October. The next one will be Friday, October 4th. We plan to be there with our crosses and prayers at 8:30 a.m. Reverend Jonathan Chadwick of the Methodist Church in Logan will lead the prayer service. Please consider being with us – your presence is needed.