Farmers air milk woes to Specter

March 31, 1998|By DON AINES

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter heard from constituents about the price of milk and abstinence Monday during a swing through the state.

The Republican senator was at the Lee Glazier farm just south of McConnellsburg to meet with dairy farmers, concerned over milk prices as federal price supports near their end.

"Last year our legislation tried to move more toward a market economy and I'm not so sure that wasn't a little abrupt," Specter, backed by a line of feeding cows, told several dozen farmers.

Much of their concern centered on different provisions in the proposed federal Milk Marketing Orders Reform bill.

Bedford County Farmer Tom Wakefield told the senator one provision favored by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman would cost farmers up to $1.26 per hundredweight of milk, compared to another that would reduce farmers' prices by just 3 cents.


"Prices are low enough now, about $13.50 per hundredweight, if they go much lower, we can't survive," Wakefield said later.

"We in the farming community have witnessed the federal programs become less important to our pricing," said John Stoner of Mercersburg, Pa. At the same time, he said the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement must be more strictly enforced to ensure a fair deal for American farmers.

Stoner said government subsidies to Canadian and European farmers violated trade agreements and hurt farmers in this country.

"We need to level the playing field," Stoner said.

Specter, who is running for re-election for a fourth term this fall, also visited Pregnancy Ministries Inc. in Chambersburg. Teenagers put on half a dozen short skits illustrating their commitment to not having sex before marriage.

"A lot of the problem is how they're teaching in school that safe sex is safe ... The only safe sex is no sex," said Emily Murray, 16, of Greencastle, Pa.

Sherry Cline, the abstinence education coordinator and center director for Pregnancy Ministries, said the group tries to convince students at public and parochial schools that premarital sex carries the risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and emotional distress.

While allowed to present programs in public schools, Cline said the message has to remain secular.

Specter raised the issue of the Jonesboro, Ark., shootings last week in which four students and a teacher were killed, allegedly by two young boys. He said he favored a system like Pennsylvania's, in which a person is charged as an adult in murder cases, regardless of age.

"It doesn't mean that the disposition will necessarily mean the death penalty or life in prison," he said of juveniles accused of murder.

"I think the Jonesboro experience and ... what we're hearing about abstinence from drugs and sex, really shows the need for a moral reawakening in America," he said.

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