Plains, Georgia Exchange With Reporters Following a Meeting With a Group of Farmers.
REPORTER. Mr. President, could you tell us about the meeting, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. It was a good meeting. I sympathize with them and understand a lot of things that they say. Many items that farmers buy have gone up 300, 400, 500 percent. Farmers are heavily dependent on energy, for instance, not just oil and natural gas for drying crops but that's where fertilizer comes from. And the same fertilizer that I used to sell down at Carters Warehouse when I was here 4 or $ years ago cost $40 and now costs $95 or $100. 5 10 15 is a--[inaudible]that's a standard around here. The same way with nitrogen; it's gone up probably--
Q. We are having a little difficulty hearing you, Mr. President; I'm sorry.
THE PRESIDENT. Ann [Ann Compton, ABC News], I didn't want to have a press conference.
I sympathized with them. They are good folks and they are trying to do things peacefully and let the consumers of the country know that farmers have a problem.
Q. Did they outline their five points to you, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I was familiar with them already.
Q. Your stand earlier on the farm bill and the fact that it was recently signed and the effect won't be felt for some time did you express that point of view with them?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I had talked to some of the leaders here on the phone yesterday; we went to that particular point. The new farm bill didn't go into effect until October 1, and it will have a beneficial impact next year. Of course, we have got the emergency farm loans, too, to tide the ones over that had failure this year. But that's primarily restricted to areas of the country where the weather caused a crop loss. But they've got a really serious problem, and we are working hard on it.
Q. Do you think you can do anything more for them?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Bob Bergland is going to meet with the State leaders from all 50 States, I think, the 4th and 5th of January. So, I'll be talking to Bob between now and then.
Q. Do you feel that they were satisfied with the meeting today?
THE PRESIDENT. I think so.
Q. What's wrong with their demand for 100 percent parity?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it would be difficult for us to compete with international prices on many of our export items if the price were substantially higher than it is now. But I believe that compared to other products that farm prices almost inevitably will have to go up in the years ahead.
As land becomes actually less available, with the encroachment on acreage that's presently devoted to agriculture, and as the population of the world expands, obviously agricultural products from the farmer will be more valuable compared to other products. But in the last few years it's--[inaudible]--very rapidly.
Q. Did you ask them to keep on planting?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I think most of these will keep on planting. Also, I told them that any sort of violence or interference in other people's lives by the strikers would have an adverse effect on them.
I think that the reactions so far to the farm demonstrations have been basically favorable from consumers, and they understand that there is always a threat of a few more radical farmers or nonfarmers who joined the parade that might do something that would bring discredit on them. They are very concerned about that, and they want the demonstrations to be peaceful and not interfere illegitimately with other people's lives.
Q. Have you heard from Mr. Sadat or Mr. Begin?
THE PRESIDENT. No, but I probably will before they meet.
Q. Are you going to do anything today?
THE PRESIDENT. Not much.
Q. Quail hunt?
THE PRESIDENT. I doubt it.
REPORTER. Merry Christmas.
THE PRESIDENT. Merry Christmas. I will probably see you later on today.
Note: The exchange began at 8:30 a.m. at the President's home in Plains, Ga.
Jimmy Carter, Plains, Georgia Exchange With Reporters Following a Meeting With a Group of Farmers. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242712