Focus on Farmers - Joe Reams, 3/15/01 10:27PM  

Gentlemen of the Commission,
I realize there is already tremendous pressure being applied by many smooth talkers with fancy titles.  My hope is that you stand fast.  The tobacco growers are the ones suffering right now and unjustly so.  Everyone who can use a calculator can figure this out.  Please don't allow those who would to drag this thing out into oblivion.  Their tactics are obvious: 1.) Cloud the issues with "fuzzy math" and 3rd hand statistics.  2.)  Attempt to create division within the tobacco farming community.  3.) Pretend to be looking out for the farmers best interests.  4.) Pretend to be actually speaking FOR the farmers.  5.)  Talk about nonsense such as methods to "diversify communities for economic redevelopment" (a chilling statement).  6.) Try to get our name in the pot of money.  7.) (and most important)  DRAG IT OUT!
Please take note of what tobacco farmers are saying, not what's coming from the ones speaking "for" them.  Thank you for not proposing money to pay "experts" to teach us dumb farmers how to grow mushrooms.  If we're able to pay down our debt, we can hire an expert if we need one.  You already have the basics of a solution.  It's obvious that you came up with it by focusing on the farmers.  It only gets complicated when these guys start with the 7 tactics listed above.  A quota buyout at $12.00 at '97 levels with a licensing system would fix our problem.  And no, it wouldn't make us rich, but it would give us something we've lost over the last 4 years (from no doing of our own) and that is stability.  That money would be used to pay debt incurred as a result of this mess and possibly be able to start another venture.  Though I've never been a Clinton fan, he did a good thing when he appointed this commission.  It being comprised the way it is - half farming, half public health, may be what's keeping y'all honest!  But whatever the case may be, what you are doing is appreciated.  Just ask any tobacco farmer.
Joe S. Reams, III
5th Generation Florida Tobacco Grower
(How's that for a title?)