Following is the text of a telegram sent by Senator John F. Kennedy to Hon. Claude Wickard, former Secretary of Agriculture, and chairman of Farmers for Kennedy-Johnson. A meeting of the Farmers for Kennedy-Johnson organization is taking place in Indianapolis, Ind.
I regard the agricultural problem as the No.1 domestic issue facing the Nation today and I intend to attack it on a national basis.
I am proud to have the support of the outstanding farm leaders from all sections and types of American agriculture who are meeting today under your chairmanship of the Farmers for Kennedy-Johnson.
The economic health of American agriculture is a matter of pressing concern to our National Government and to every citizen. The strength of our agriculture is an essential element in the strength of our Nation, and of the whole free world.
American agriculture's economic condition today is desperate.
During the past 8 years, the purchasing power of the farmer's product has been cut more than 20 percent - from 100 percent of parity in 1952 to only 79 percent of parity today.
During these 8 years, the farmer's costs of production have climbed steadily. As a result the total net income of American farmers has been cut by more than one-fourth.
But in spite of the increase in the farmers' efficiency, in spite of the declining numbers of farmers who must share our total farm income, the average net income per farm has declined sharply. Measured in 1959 dollars, the average farmer today is receiving a net income of 22 percent below what he received in 1952.
There are too few in America who realize the seriousness of the economic injustice under which our farm people live. Last year the average farm family in the United States received a net income of $2,547. Last year the average income of farm people amounted to only 43 percent as much as the average income of nonfarmers.
The desperate economic condition of agriculture endangers the whole social and economic fabric of our rural farming communities. It raises serious dangers to our entire national economy.
These economic dangers must be met and conquered boldly, constructively, and effectively.
And the senseless burden of waste and unnecessary costs must be lifted off the backs of the taxpayers, where it has been loaded in ever-rising proportions by the Republican administration's mismanagement of our national farm policies. The farm plank of the Democratic Party is the mold from which a Democratic administration that is sympathetic and understanding toward the farm people of America can design workable programs that will raise farm prices and farm income at less burden to the taxpayers.
Prompt and positive action to raise farm prices and farm incomes will be a first order of business in the new Democratic administration next January.
Your support and hard work in taking this message directly to every farmer's home will assure the victory in November which will bring a better life to the farmers of America.
JOHN F. KENNEDY