Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project: Interview with Jack McGill
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Jack McGill has had about 30 years of experience in farming. After getting out of the Army, he finished college under the G.I. Bill at the University of Minnesota. He has 5 sons and 3 daughters. His farm has been in his family for 4 generations. It consists of 160 acres, 46 tillable, and he also rented additional land. He milked up to 30 cows and also had 40 beef cattle and 300 hogs. Also, Jack raised corn, beans, hay, oats, etc. He still thinks of himself as a farmer although his son now has the farm. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: There were declining farm economies during the late 1920s and early 1930s; he can just remember his granddad talking about the Farm Holiday Program (a farm protest group). When he began farming, he borrowed $4,000 from a bank at 4.5% interest to buy cows and a tractor. He was soon able to transfer it to a neighbor, paying her 2%. He paid the loan off in about a year. Land prices then were in the range of $200-250 per acre and loans on land could be paid off quickly using the Soil Bank Program (similar to the present day CRP). There have been farm programs on and off for the last 50 years, but they have always been short range - frequently changing direction with changes in administrations. When he started, farms were more diversified, self sufficient and smaller than today's farms. There were advantages in the diversification: they tended to minimize the highs and lows. Specialized operations, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer from disease and pollution, falling prices and loan difficulties. He became interested in Farm Advocacy soon after the program started, about 4 years ago. At that time, lenders were more likely to tell farmers to go ahead and file bankruptcy. But there has been a great change since then: now, and during the past 2 years, they are saying "We can work something out". Also, lenders were often not truthful (in what they told farmers) about the law, their security interest, the collateral, and farmers were often gullible enough to believe them. Now farmers are better educated and not so apt to be mislead (and lenders are not apt to try to mislead them). Jack has worked almost exclusively in mediation during the past 2 years and has taken part in well over 550 mediation meetings. Lenders will try to protect their interests by being high in their appraisals (of the fair market value of collateral) and to counteract this you must be low in your initial appraisals. You should propose terms that are inclined toward the farmer, without being devious or too creative. You should be assertive, but being too demanding will destroy your credibility. He has been active in COACT and other farm groups in the past and there is still a need for them. They are involved in changing laws, which are usually oriented toward providing an adequate supply of cheap food for the consumer - but have not been fair to the farmer. The Advocacy Program has been effective but underfunded. Advocates often work far more hours than they are paid for. The legislature has written into the law that Advocate services are free to farmers - but has failed to back this up with funding. And referrals of farmers to Advocates are coming from more places (in greater numbers) as time goes along. Fillmore County has twice as many mediations as any other county in the state - and he has worked up to 60 hours in some weeks while being paid for 20. Perhaps no one had the power to do anything about this, but it does seem that someone should have been watching out for the Program.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
24 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Creation Interviewee: McGill, Jack
Interviewer: Hunter, Dianna
Interviewer: Meter, Ken
Made in Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 05/11/1988
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 37
Accession Number AV1991.158.25
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project'

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