JUST STAY OUT OF MY FIELD. We’ve destroyed the balance of nature. We’ve killed all the beneficial insects, one angry McAllen cotton farmer told the TDA by way of the McAllen Monitor. It was an altogether unlikely quote. McAllen Mayor Othal Brand is the owner of an international agribusiness. He is widely known for his opposition to legislation intended to improve the lot of farmworkers, such as workers compensation, laws prohibiting the required use of the short-handled hoe, and the farmworkers’ minimum wage. He was never enthusiastic about pesticide regulations promulgated by Jim Hightower’s Texas Department of Agriculture. \(When pesticide use was being restricted in an attempt to prevent the deaths of farmworkers, it was Brand who said, “They have to die of campaign of Republican Ag Commissioner Rick Perry, who has held that office since he defeated Hightower in 1989. So to see Brand quoted in the Monitor, under a headline that reads, “Cotton growers blame spraying: Stop boll weevil program, Perry told,” is a surprise to anyone who doesn’t grow cotton. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, cotton farmers this year produced 54,101 bales compared to 307,943 bales last year. In San Angelo, cotton farmers lost half the region’s 190,000 acres of cotton. What destroyed the cotton crop, according to a study done by the United States Department of Agriculture, was the widespread and repeated use of the pesticide malathion, as mandated by the Boll Weevil Eradication Program established in 1993 and administered by the TDA and the USDA. The USDA study found that the pesticide that killed the boll weevils also killed spiders and wasps that naturally control the population of other harmful insects, in particular the beet armyworm. With its natural predators eliminated, the armyworm ate.the Texas cotton crop. Meanwhile, across the river in Mexico, where there was no widespread malathion application, cotton growers were harvesting good crops. Valley Cotton farmers have established their own eradication program, project SWEEP OUT, by which they intend to eradicate the Boll Weevil Eradication program. And forty cotton farmers have filed suit against the TDA. Texas Comptroller John Sharp released a report that identified malathion as the cause of the crop failure and asked why Mexican fields two miles from Texas fields had such good cotton yields. EN JIM HIGHTOWER was ag commissioner, among his repertoire of stock jokes was a story about two smalltown boys who purchased a truck and used it to transport watermelons from Hempstead to Houston, where the melons were sold at a busy intersection. After months of selling thousands of watermelonsat two dollars each, the same price they paid for them at Hempsteadone of the young entrepreneurs figured out why they were making no money. “I’ve got it,” he told his partner. “We need to buy a bigger truck.” Rick Perry has applied that same logic to pesticide application. “The eradication program cannot be completely successful,” Perry wrote in a letter to Republican U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, “if the boll weevil problem is not simultaneously addressed in Mexico. I am taking every step to work with the Mexican government on the importance of the matter. In fact, I have a meeting on September 28, 1995 with offi cials from the Mexican department of agriculture to discuss boll weevils and other issues.” Attached to Perry’s letter was an enclosure that explained how U.S. agencies will be encouraged to actively work with the Mexican government in developing and implementing a boll weevil suppression program in Northern Mexico, particularly in fields along the Texas-Mexico border. Perry has never been terribly articulate in his mother tongue. It would have been interesting to hear what his pesticide pitch sounded like in Spanish. L.D. CITIZENS ALLIANCE UPDATE I have now received about 1,200 written responses, and many more verbally, to my Call to Citizens in The Nation of September 12-21 and the September 1 issue of the Observer, for the formation of one broad, national coalition of populists, progressives, workers, and liberals, possibly to be called the Citizens Alliance. While preparing a database, we have had to put back by one month our intended schedule. Citizens have held local meetings, forming alliances and selecting representatives, and will have ,,,, THE TEXAS 1 IIP server OCTOBER 13, 1995 VOLUME 87, No. 20 FEATURES The Hate Gates in Lanierville By Michael King 4 Emptying Their Pockets By Mary Hull Caballero 10 Class Menagerie By John Ross 12 DEPARTMENTS Dialogue Editorial Green Farmers 3 James Galbraith Give War a Chance 14 Molly Ivins The Arithmetic of Deprivation 15 Jim Hightower How to Succeed in DC 16 BOOKS AND THE CULTURE “Ghost Story”… Poetry by Leonard Nathan 17 Onward Christian Censors Story by Amanda Toering 18 The Real Buddy Holly Story Book review by Brad Tyer 19 AFTERWORD A Barrel of Fun By Carol Countryman 20 Political Intelligence 24 Cover art by Valerie Fowler; pictured are Brandon Ramos, Sean Walters, and James Tidmore of Houston until late December to continue doing so before the national assembly. On the weekend of November 10-12, representatives of local and regional meetings chosen by that time, and representatives of other interested organizations, will meet in Chicago to plan the St. Louis meeting and issue a national call. I recommend that the national meeting in St. Louis be held December 27January 1, with a big New Year’s Eve party part of it. But that will be for the Chicago planners to decide. Ronnie Dugger EDITORIAL Green Farmers Othal Brand tells Rick Perry to stop the malathion THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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