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“You can put earrings on a hog but you can’t hide the ugliness,” Hightower has said of Reagan farm policy and a dozen other issues. The same might be said of the Farm Bureau debate in Waco. Because no matter how carefully the argument was framed, it was fundamentally ugly; it required embracing the principle, while renouncing the practice of participatory electoral democracy: “I, too, value the privilege of electing,” Becky Lamar of Erath County told the delegation. “But I believe in an informed vote. Farmers and ranchers are not in a majority anymore. So, are the people in the cities truly informed about who will represent agriculture? If we have an elected commission, we can not state qualifications for the people who file for those offices. If it’s an elected commission, whoever wants to can file and run for those offices.” S.M. True was not so circumspect about LOUIS DUBOSE t.1 .101. True removing the voter from the equation of ag commissioner selection. “I think that at this point the Farm Bureau’s preference we heard a lot of discussion pro and con today but I think the discussion came down on the side of an appointed commission today,” True said. His personal preference, he told a reporter, also is an appointed agriculture commission. THERE IS a certain element of farce in what occurred at the Waco convention an element of farce that derives from the fact that the Farm Bureau claims a membership of 327,000 in a state where fewer than 90,000 derive more than half of their income from agriculture. The Farm Bureau is not the collective voice of the Texas farmer. It is. rather, an insurance company. And a discount tire company. And an agricultural implement company. At least one Farm Bureau holding, Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance, is identified in Sibbald’s Guide to the Texas top two fifty 1988 as one of the state’s 250 largest privately-held companies. Whet. Farm Bureau directors conclude a board meeting, Mikkel Jordahl wrote in the Observer four the table, so to speak, and call the meeting of the insurance company to order.” \(JorAnd Farm Bureau representatives, it seems, are something less than honest when questioned about the holdings of those insurance companies particularly holdings that might appear to compromise the Bureau as an interest group representing agriculture. Is there any truth, a reporter from somewhere outside the regular press corps asked at the Waco meeting, to claims made by the Texas Farmers Union that a TFB company owned stock in Syntex a Panamanian agricultural pharmaceutical manufacturer? The question was framed in a way to allow Farm Bureau representatives to publicly inoculate the pro-Hightower Farmers Union claim of a conflict of interest. “Roddy,” True said, “I presume you’re talking about the American Farm Bureau.” True was interrupted by Warren Newberry: “I happen to be the administrative officer and we have absolutely no [Syntex] stock whatsoever. And as far as I know, never have had. So that is not true.” Asked by the Observer if any of the Farm Bureau’s ancillary companies owned stock that might represent a conflict of interest, Newberry fired back with a two-word response: “Absolutely none! So ended the press conference and the two-hour Waco convention. But not the conflict of interest story. Because according to records filed with the state board of insurance, Southern Farm Bureau Casualty held, at the beginning of 1988, 25,000 shares of Syntex stock worth $800.000. Syntex is a Panamanian ag-pharm company that produces Synovex, a growth-promoting product which in 1988 was a top seller in American feedlots. Unless the stock was sold off during the past year, it compromises the bureau’s position in its fight with Hightower over chemical-free beef. And serves to remind the public that the Farm Bureau is a for-profit corporation and not a public interest group. And so the Waco gathering was about a Farm Bureau-Jim Hightower feud. It was a squabble about pesticides \(Also listed on the Southern Casualty statement was $466,000 in Union Carbide stock and S.M. it was about $100 million worth of beef, and hormones and farm labor and liberal versus conservative .. . We can’t beat Hightower “in the polls,” True said to Fort Worth Star-Telegram political writer Kaye Northcott. Nor can they beat him in the legislature. But here in Waco, in an auditorium overlooking the Brazos river, they sense they can beat him in Bill Clements’s executive office. Maybe they know something that we don’t. L.D. Information for Historians, Researchers, Nostalgia Buffs, & Observer Fans Bound Volumes: The 1987 bound issues of The Texas Observer are now ready. In maroon, washable binding, the price is $30. Also available at $30 each are volumes of the Observer for each year since 1963. Cumulative Index: The clothbound cumulative edition of The Texas Observer Index covering the years 1954-1970 may be obtained for $20. The 1971-1981 cumulative edition is Back Issues: Issues dated January 10, 1963, to the present are available at $3 each. Earlier issues are out of stock, but photocopies of articles from issues dated December 13, 1954 through December 27, 1962 will be provided at $2 per article. Microfilm: The complete backfile dividual years may be ordered separately. To order, or to obtain additional information, please write to Univ. Microfilms Intl.. 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. to the Observer Business Office. 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