UPDATE This just in: A resolution was presented to the NC Farm Bureau in December and will go before the NCFB Board in February 2007 to be voted on.
Be it resolved: The North Carolina Farm Bureau shall solicit full support and direct involvement of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) to defend eastern North Carolina farmers from the U.S. Navy’s proposed Outlying Landing Field (OLF) by providing direct lobbying assistance, elevation to AFBF priority status and to take any other action that is appropriate and effective.
I'll look into this later today, but it looks like the NCFB may be finally getting into gear on this. The February vote will be the test. Let's keep a close eye on it. That said, where the dickens has the Farm Bureau been for the past three years?
Back to our regularly scheduled programming . . .
Over the next couple of days, I'll report on several different angles of how your United States Government is working overtime to screw farmers and destroy the environment in northeastern North Carolina. But before all that, let's focus on the spectacularly miserable performance of the North Carolina Farm Bureau and its likely collusion with own own back-stabbing senior senator, Elizabeth Dole.
The North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation was organized in 1936, with the goal of protecting the interests of farm and rural families across the state. For the first time, an organization would give farmers a unified voice on agricultural issues. Now, as then, N.C. Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization, serving as a legislative advocate for our members at the local, state, national and international levels. From the county courthouse to the halls of Congress, N.C. Farm Bureau provides powerful and effective representation for agriculture and rural communities.
That all may have been true back in 1936, but in 2007 the North Carolina Farm Bureau appears to be just another arm of big business, big money, and the Party of Greed. At a time when the Farm Bureau could have stood strong to support the hundreds of farmers in Washington and Beaufort Counties, they stood silent instead.
One farmer explained it this way:
They told us they couldn't get involved. They said they couldn't take sides. They said the OLF is going to go somewhere and they didn't want to be siding with one group of farmers against another.
To which I say bullshit. If the Farm Bureau's mission is to represent agriculture and rural communities, then they should be up in arms about any government attempt to use eminent domain to condemn farmland. Period.
So why hasn't the NC Farm Bureau been a vigilant protector of the farmers who would be wiped out of business by the US Navy? Take a wild guess:
As we look to 2007 and congressional efforts to reauthorize the Farm Bill, North Carolina's delegation is in a position to have significant impact. In the U.S. House of Representatives, four members from North Carolina serve on the Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over farm policy. Representatives Bob Etheridge and Mike McIntyre will chair important Agriculture subcommittees.
Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr are also strong advocates of agriculture and understand the importance of this industry to our state's economy.
Why is it that anytime there's a stinky deal going down to screw over people in North Carolina you'll find Liddy Dole's name floating around?
Way back when, back before the Navy had declared Site C as its preferred location for destroying North Carolina farmland, Senator Dole and Senator John Warner had a good thing going as king and queen of military affairs in the US Senate. Plus they really knew how to scratch each other's back. Warner wanted to get a bunch of big, dangerous and super-noisy aircraft out of Norfolk, and Liddy wanted to get those very same planes into Cherry Point, North Carolina, to forestall any threat of base closures in our military-friendly state.
So when the opportunity emerged to assign squadrons of F-18 Super Hornets, Warner and Dole split the deal. NC would get some of the big jets if Dole could make sure there would be no big stink when the Navy proposed to acquire 33,000 acres for a training facility next to a National Wildlife Refuge.
It's not clear whether Dole actually leaned on the the Farm Bureau to butt out - but she surely didn't encourage their involvement. When 400 family farmers asked for help to protect their lives and their farms from the Navy's misguided plans, neither Elizabeth Dole nor NC Farm Bureau did a damn thing to help these good people.
(Dole apparently wrote a letter (wink, wink) to the Navy saying they should consider what the farmers had to say. But the Farm Bureau didn't even do that.)
So the deal was rigged from the get-go. The political fix was in, the Farm Bureau turned a blind eye, the Navy "reverse engineered" its site selection process, and the people who do god's work on the land get screwed again.
For a good summary of the environmental insanity of this proposed deal, see this article in the Independent by Jon Eliston.