The C-B-S T-V newsmagazine “60 Minutes” aired a story last night which questioned the Farm Bureau’s commitment to family farmers. Reporter Mike Wallace opened the show with this criticism of the Farm Bureau, saying that family farmers believe the Farm Bureau is too busy helping corporate farmers to worry about them.Reporter Wallace questioned whether the Farm Bureau was too busy helping big corporate interests — and building the three-and-a-half Billion dollar “F-B-L Financial,” a financial services company. The 60 Minutes segment ended saying IRS attempts to get the Bureau to pay taxes on dues from non-farm members were stopped by congress. He also pointed out that the Farm Bureau is calling for a repeal of the IRS code.Gary Bierschenk, a Benton County farmer who ran but lost his bid last year to be president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, appeared on the program. He says the organization is using farmers money to invest outside agriculture while farmers are struggling.The report was critical of the Farm Bureau’s heavy-handed political influence, as in a case involving Chicago bakery owners Paul and Linda Schutt. The Schutts collected signatures opposed to removing wolves from Yellowstone and delivered the petitions to the Farm Bureau.The news report was also critical of the Farm Bureau’s opposition to some widely-supported laws, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a cornerstone of American Civil Rights law and the Equal Rights Amendment for women. The Iowa Farm Bureau’s president was not available for comment last night.A public relations campaign is being launched by the Iowa Farm Bureau after last night’s critical report on “60 Minutes.” Bureau spokesman Aaron Putze says the report was biased and he denies many comments made about the Farm Bureau on C-B-S. Putze says the Farm Bureau did not take a stand against Voting Rights & its lobbyists spent more time last year fighting for family farmers, not corporations.
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