The Eastern press and media have had a field day reporting the names of agricultural producers who received large government crop payments.

Some of these ag producers felt they were being singled out for ridicule. They shouldn't. They are helping produce the necessary food and fiber that feeds and clothes this nation's consumers--about 97% of this nation's population.

According to government information, a "large" farm is defined as an operation that produces $100,000 or more of program crops annually. This is about 18% of U.S. agricultural operations. And these operations produced 84% of the program crops.

At today's prices, what constitutes $100,000 in farm sales: about 40,000 bushels of wheat, a little over 22,000 bushels of soybeans; or the sale of about 180 head of 600-pound calves.

The "small" farms, which produce less than $100,000 in products annually, total of 76% of U.S. farm. These farms, in total, produce about 8% of the value of program crops.

To those persons opposed to farm program payments, one might ask them: "Who feeds you? The small producers or the large producers?"

One news story says, "Overall, the data shows the money is going exactly where it should be headed, to the people that are truly farming for the purpose of supporting their families."

High Plains agriculture, compared to agriculture in other parts of this country, is big business and produces a lot of food products. Yes, High Plains producers operate a lot of land. When the weather and commodity prices are good, they make money. When conditions aren't good, they can lose a lot of income.

Perhaps there should be several more annual income categories that are reported: farms with annual gross income of $50,000 to $100,000 (the family farms we hear so much about) and those farms that produce more than $500,000 (the mega-farms) in products annually.

Regardless of size, producers of program crops are contributing to the food supply of this country. And they should receive a proportional share of government payments.

The House-passed Food Security Act of 2001 also supports this philosophy.

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