To the Editor:
Cannon County and/or Tennessee do not have in place an organization of farm volunteers and/or farm workers for farmers in emergencies. I am Elrena Parton, a farmer in Cannon County. My family [my sister Delinda and I] have needed extra help for a limited time due to our father's sudden death. [My sister has limited use of one arm.] We have done farm work 8 - 10 hours plus daily for eight weeks. (This was hard labor.) We had to find help to finish fixing our vegetable garden soil, then finding someone to put up stakes for running beans. We needed help for removing manure out of barns and to load cattle to be sold. Various gates needed fixing (the gate would fall when opened to get a vehicle through with animal feed), bush hogging, hay/corn crushing, etc.
After asking various people, and making many phone calls we learned there is no limited help for farmers in emergencies. Everyone eats? Why is there no help available for farmers? Getting help for various farm jobs was impossible for weeks. We did have help from some of our neighbors and acquaintances. Some people did volunteer and others were paid.
My family has lived a farming nightmare. I do not want to see any other farm family to live through what mine has. This is why I am promoting a FARM VOLUNTEER project, a voluntary organization for farmers, wives and children, for when the main farmer suddenly becomes unable to work due to a health emergency or death. Ideally, this help would be available for 3 to 6 months or longer. Four groups are suggested: (first) volunteers for various farm jobs, (second) workers being paid (with funds from farm organizations, food companies, various corporations, etc.) and (third) FFA members from high school students and college students with job limits and hours credited to their school course with the farmer in charge providing a written statement as to the work done by students. And (fourth) a list of farm workers to do work for 1 or 2 hours daily or seasonal with minimum wage pay. This list could be available at the local UT office, farm supply businesses, stock barn, etc.