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   Vol. 68/No. 41           November 9, 2004  
Calero meets farmers in Tchula, Mississippi
TCHULA, Mississippi—“The cotton crop is good this year—about one to two bales per acre—but prices are down,” said David Howard, “so it’s still hard for the small farmer.” Howard, president of the Mileston Co-operative in the small Mississippi Delta town, was explaining the economics of cotton farming to Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, at a meeting for Calero held at the Co-op, October 17. “The price for cotton right now is around 54 cents a pound. We need at least 80 cents,” Howard said. “So we’re putting the crop in storage and hoping the prices will go up.”

“It costs about $485 to plant an acre of cotton,” added Roy Brown, another Co-op member, who is in the midst of bringing in his crop. “With the price so low, we only get $248 per acre. Sometimes we can’t wait for the price to go up, because the small farmers have to pay their loans. What would you do if you were elected to help this situation?”

“The capitalists let the small farmers bear the risks and costs of production, but can’t guarantee working farmers a decent living,” replied Calero. “That’s why our program calls for an immediate moratorium on farm foreclosures and for government-funded cheap credit for working farmers and price supports to cover production costs, so working farmers won’t lose out, even when there’s a good crop, as is happening to you and other small cotton farmers. These demands are not just for farmers. They deserve the support of the whole labor movement and are part of building a movement of workers and farmers so they can fight together for their common interests.”

Brown told Calero that the local cotton gin, which used to hire local small farmers on a seasonal basis to help with the cotton crop, is now hiring immigrant workers from Mexico.

“Many of these workers are farmers themselves,” Calero told Brown, who was surprised to learn this. “They’re working here to send money home to be able to keep their land. You can approach them as brothers, since they’ve experienced just what you’re going through, and more.”

Several veterans of the 1998-99 strike at Freshwater Farms catfish processing plant in nearby Belzoni also attended the meeting.

“We wanted to come and thank you personally for helping get the socialist candidates on the ballot in Mississippi,” Calero told the group, which included several of the SWP campaign’s electors in the state, six of whom are from Tchula.

After the meeting, Joann Hogan, a former striker, opened her home to Calero and his supporters for a delicious home-cooked meal before the socialist presidential candidate and his entourage returned to Birmingham, Alabama.

The day before the visit to Tchula, Calero and his supporters campaigned at the evening shift change at the big Avondale textile mill in Sylacauga, Alabama. Earlier that day, he visited the Fiesta 2004 Latino festival in downtown Birmingham.
Related articles:
SWP presidential candidate in L.A., on last stretch of U.S. campaign tour
SWP candidates: ‘Free locked-up Vieques protesters’
SWP candidates get good response at N.Y. college
Stumping for socialism from Reykjavík to Seattle
SWP candidates in New York campaign among meat packers at Hunts Point Meat Market in Bronx
SWP candidate speaks to striking Iceland teachers
SWP campaign in Florida: ‘Vote No on parental notification act, Yes to increase in minimum wage’
Firebombed SWP campaign hall in Pennsylvania reopened
SWP candidate for Senate campaigns among cannery workers in Washington  
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