Saturday, May 12, 2007

At least in Cocke county they do.

This has just been pissing me off and I sort of have to get it out. Sorry. I just do.

A year or so ago, the Farm Service Agency instituted the Tobacco Buyout Program(TTPP). I won't bore you with the details, but essentially what that meant was that any land that had been used to raise tobacco under the tobacco allotment system would have those shares or allotments bought back by the government.

I was really delighted to find that my farm was worth about 10,000 dollars in payout, but somewhat confused that a gentleman farmer neighbor(GFN) was claiming a large part of my acreage as his own. I corrected the oversight there at the local FSA office. I even took my deed in to show them. I was really happy since this meant I could build a new barn, loafing sheds and improve my fencing.

A few days later, GFN, with whom I am friendly and like, calls me, furious. He says I have stolen his tobacco shares and he wants them back. I am shocked. I explain that legally the tobacco shares are attached to the land and since I own the land there is no way I could "steal" them. I know that I am 100% correct on this point. He is still very angry and tells me all the work he has put into those shares as if they are his. They are not. They are mine.

I think on this a few days. Then I go in and sign my rights to the 10,000 dollars over to GFN.
The FSA lets me do this even though they know GFN has no right to those shares.

I do this because Cocke county has a long tradition of dealing with troublemakers with arson. While GFN would never do such a thing, I cannot risk that one of his relatives...and they are many...would not torch my place. I have to live here. Preferably with a roof over my head. It was the smart thing to do.

I don't blame GFN. I blame the FSA for letting these old boys trade these shares like monopoly money for all these years. I blame the FSA for not standing firm on the TTPP program and making sure that the payouts went where they belonged. With the land.

And the people at the local FSA, were more than likely related to GFN, so they more than likely weren't going to stand up for me anyway.

So...I'm back at square one for my farm improvements. Foolishly, I think there might be some help from the FSA, since they are responsible for me losing my improvement funds in the first place.

So, I look up some of the FSA programs that I might qualify for. There are several that I find, but I have to get my premises ID and participate in the NAIS program. No problem, I fill out the paperwork and take it to the local FSA.

While I'm there, I ask about some of the programs I might qualify for. She tells me to contact the county extension agent.

I call the agent, who I will call "Cutie K" because he is the wet dream of every gay farmboy in three counties, and try to set up a farm visit. I met Cutie K at a local event and he seemed nice enough. Of course, I had an enormous white man at my side at the time. I figure he can come and give me some tips on what exactly I need to do and what sort of programs are available to women farmers like myself seeking to be more productive.

Cutie finally calls me and unleashes his hidden super power upon me...which is evidently a complete and utter ignorance of all things agriculture program related. It's an odd super power for a county farm agent to have. I would think it a liability in his field of work.

The more we talk, the more I realize that the FSA office is fronting any small, minority or women farmers over to him so that he may unleash his super power...total ignorance of all things agriculture program related upon them and hopefully confusing us back to our mud daubed hovels.

Evidently, despite all the big talk at the USDA following several class action lawsuits involving minority and women farmers, the message to me is pretty clear.

Be prepared to drop trou and defend your bubbliciousness if you want advice or help from the FSA.

Also, if you can't pass your bubbaliciousness test...hand over anything that is rightfully yours to the nearest bubba that we are related to and/or like.

Then maybe we won't burn your farm down.

17 Comments:

  1. Mamma said...
    Damn! $10k is a lot to give up. I completely understand your reasoning, but I'm floored that it was necessary. I don't know if I could stay in a community like that.

    You must be a VERY strong woman.
    Chris said...
    Rosie, did Simone ever witness any cruel, overt racism or discrimination when she was a young girl?
    Anne Johnson said...
    If he's really a gentleman, he'll kick you back part of that dough. As for the Extension airhead, you might want to see if your county has a female commissioner and talk to her. Or just canvass the Boss Hoggs (your county govt at work) and see if there's one who might actually have a brain.
    Peggy said...
    Thats one of the bad things about having to deal with a small mountain town. Everyone is related and they are gonna take care of their own no matter how underhanded they have to be. I hate you had to sign over your money but I agree with what might have happened. Sometimes it sucks living in the mountains!
    Karen said...
    This really stinks. I know you made a realistic decision, because to fight this kind of injustice is to endanger yourself, but wow. I can't imagine how you did it.
    Betsy aka 'the goat yoda' said...
    Actually, Cutie K is at the mercy of the county just as much as Rosie- I consider him to be a friend of mine- he told me he has spent the better part of the last three years since he got the job doing his damnest to not step on any good 'ole related-to-everyone boy toes and still hasn't got the hand of them- there are sooo many in cocke co. Nepotism is alive and well up here in the mountains....

    If this were one county over in NC, there would be no problem since they know how to do it over there, but old families have deep pockets and even longer memories over here....
    Paul said...
    It's hard to have to do that. I have a similar if non farming situation where I'm "attached" to my house in the sense that I literally am too incapacitated to leave the premises. Have sometimes had negative experiences with the low wage unskilled people that our for-profit "home health care" agencies send out. But I don't dare complain. They and potentially their boyfriends know exactly where I live, what kind of shape I'm in, and I don't even usually know their last names let alone their addresses.

    I've gotten better at "letting it go" but it's still not always easy to have to capitulate despite recognizing the impracticality of doing otherwise.
    Libby Spencer said...
    That so sucks. Your gentleman farmer is no gentleman if he would take the money right out of your pocket when he knows damn well it should rightly go to you.

    But I do understand why you caved. I lived in a small town like that as well in New England. Yankees aren't much better although they don't usually burn you down. They shoot out your windows instead.
    Rosie said...
    I don't know Mamma...you don't have to be very strong to yeild to this sort of threat. I am, however, an extremely judicious woman.

    Chris...I have no idea.

    Betsy, I know he's a nice guy. But he said that he had been told to keep "retired" people who moved here from collecting any assistance for their farms. How this is being interpreted is fairly broad. Evidently it is being interpreted as anyone the local FSA office doesn't think should be helped...in other words, small, start-up, and minority and disadvantaged producers or outsiders in general. There is evidently a memo or email running around that certain classes of people should not benefit from the USDA programs. And I do know when I'm being played. And Cutie was definitely playing me...which he probably shouldn't do since he's a piss poor liar over the phone. I detest when people intentionally withhold information in that fashion. It wouldn't be an issue other than that I had been so totally and thoroughly rogered in the TTPP deal, and then for them to treat me like that has well and truely set me on the warpath. Not a pretty thing.

    Hey Paul...I know exactly what you are talking about. When I was paralyzed in the hospital for six months there were some scary nurses and nurses aides. You really have to be careful...sometimes it's hard to figure out your own best interests at a time like that.
    Pissed OFF Housewife said...
    OhMyGoodness I'm soooo relieved I live here in Los Angeles where we don't have nepotism issues.

    *remove tongue from cheek now*

    Good thing you're smart enough to see the big picture.

    My money's still on you.
    Jbeeky said...
    Oh Rosie, that hurts. I can't get over the money part, that hurts. I am so sorry that happened to you.
    Betsy aka 'the goat yoda' said...
    Here's the URL to TN's cost share program:

    http://state.tn.us/agriculture/enhancement/growth.html

    Applications for this cycle are closed. Useful as tits on a bull.

    I have heard of folks getting good results with this, but probably won't use it myself because I don't want 'Imperial entanglements'.
    busybusymomma said...
    Ouch... gotta love how helpful the good ol' government is.
    Calicocow said...
    Karma, Rosie. Ya gotta believe in Karma.

    What happened to you sucks in a major way, and it pisses me off. Life in rural TN, gotta love it *rolls eyes*. Good ole boys abound and getting anything done is not a matter of being right, it's matter of who you are related to and/or know.
    My thoughts (and anger) are with you, girl. Wish I knew the right people up there to get something done.
    erin ambrose said...
    oh.....i know too wll the dangers of messin' with folks that have a few generations on ya in a moutain valley....eeee. esp. bein' all on my own up here. for example my mostly absent neighbors (the ones who love to burn plastic and rubber and chemicals by the water and have done it for decades) they've got a sawmill at the back and don't have a permit for it...i found this out by chance....and when they crank that ancient thing up all i smell all day is diesel fumes...which is reeeeeeaaaallly bad for my impairment stuff. would love to bust them for the permit...but also love my life uncharred and bullet free....sigh.
    Bad Alice said...
    What amazes me is that you somehow manage to inject humor into the situation--bubbliciousness.

    Ah, I remember looking at apartments in Carol Gardens Brooklyn. I noted to the agent how nervous I was that there were no bars on the ground floor, since that was standard everywhere else. The agent looked meaningfully at the super, who looked meaningfully back. "You don't have to worry about things like that in this neighborhood, lady. We look out for each other." I was then told the story of the upstart realtor who tried to evict some nice old Italian grandmothers from their apartments. Well, you probably can guess what happened to that realtor. Never cross good ol boys or nice Italian grandmothers.
    SusieQ said...
    Rosie, I am really upset that you had to give up $10,000 (tobacco shares) that was rightfully yours so you wouldn't be torched. You could have used that money.

    I know I have had to give up and give in on things in the past, because the battle would have been too costly in the end. That is a lesson we all learn in life. It isn't fair though. I hope you are able to obtain the farming assistance you've been seeking. Good luck.

    I created a link in the comment section of my blog recently to your May 11 Porn Food Friday (love that title) post featuring the "Wet" coconut cake recipe. I wanted to share that intriguing recipe with my readers, especially my sister who is a fan of Cool Whip.

    Funny story: I ordered a cake from the Target bakery a few years ago that turned out to be pretty soggy due to condensation that had taken place. My daughter-in-law, who is from the Philippines, thought the cake was supposed to be soggy. She loved it. She's been begging me to buy another one of those soggy Target cakes. So, I know she is going to love the "Wet" coconut cake.

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