The growers often try to blame the union for their

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The growers often try to blame the union for their problems--to lay their sins off on us--sins for which they only have themselves to blame.The growers only have themselves to blame as they begin to reap the harvest from decades of environmental damage they have brought upon the land--the pesticides, the herbicides, the soil fumigants, the fertilizers, the salt deposits from thoughtless irrigation--the ravages from years of unrestrained poisoning of our soil and water.Thousands of acres of land in California have already been irrevocably damaged by this wanton abuse of nature. Thousands more will be lost unless growers understand that dumping more poisons on the soil won't solve their problems--on the short term or the long term.Health authorities in many San Joaquin Valley towns already warn young children and pregnant women not to drink the water because of nitrates from fertilizers which have contaminated the groundwater.The growers only have themselves to blame for an increasing demand by consumers for higher quality food--food that isn't tainted by toxics; food that doesn't result from plant mutations or chemicals which produce red, luscious-looking tomatoes--that taste like alfalfa.The growers are making the same mistake American automakers made in the '60s and '70s when they refused to produce small economical cars--and opened the door to increased foreign competition.Growers only have themselves to blame for increasing attacks on their publicly-financed hand-outs and government welfare: Water subsidies; mechanization research; huge subsidies for not growing crops.These special privileges came into being before the Supreme Court's one-person, one-vote decision--at a time when rural lawmakers dominated the Legislature and the Congress. Soon, those hand-outs could be in jeopardy as government searches for more revenue and as urban taxpayers take a closer look at farm programs--and who they really benefit.The growers only have themselves to blame for the humiliation they have brought upon succeeding waves of immigrant groups which have sweated and sacrificed for 100 years to make this industry rich. For generations, they have subjugated entire racesof dark-skinned farm workers.These are the sins of the growers, not the farm workers. We didn't poison the land. We didn't open the door to imported produce. We didn't covet billions of dollars in government hand-outs. We didn't abuse and exploit the people who work the land.Today, the growers are like a punch-drunk old boxer who doesn't know he's past his prime. The times are changing. The political and social environment has changed. The chickens are coming home to roost--and the time to account for past sins is approaching.I am told, these days, why farm workers should be discouraged and pessimistic: The Republicans control the governor's office and the White House. They say there is a conservative trend in the nation.
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