Readers Respond

Monday, September 20, 2004

Letters to the Pilot

Slaves on own land


Thanks for the great article about the warnings to farmers from ISU's new ag legal expert, Roger McEowen. I've heard many sad stories from farmers producing broiler chickens on contract in the Southeast U.S. which may apply to contract hog production in Iowa. They say the big broiler corporations make new demands for costly improvements to growing facilities and make claims of inferior performance even though the quality of the chickens or the feed may be at fault. The combination of huge debts and threat of losing the contract with little legal recourse makes them feel like slaves on their own land. This type of production should never have been allowed and would not have had it not been for the poor representation of farmers by Farm Bureau and the commodity organizations. We are lucky to have Roger McEowen on the side of family farmers.

- George Naylor, President of the

National Family Farm Coalition

A flag violation?


The recent 9/11 display by the Storm Lake police and fire departments may have been well intended, but I believe that it was a violation of formal flag etiquette as defined by the Flag Code of the United States. The local media reported that the flag in front of the police station was at half-mast. This was wrong. It was at half-staff. A mast is a pole on a ship. What we have in Iowa are flag staffs, not masts.

The flag code authorizes only the President of the United States and Governors of states, territories and possessions to order the flag to be flown at half-staff. Local officials do not have this authority.

The reason for lowering the flag to half-staff is to honor a person or persons during a period of mourning. For most persons, the period ends the when the person is buried. There are specified longer periods for significant persons in the government: 30 days for the President (whether he dies in office or after he has left the office), 10 days for the Vice-president, Chief Justice (active or retired), or Speaker of the House.

Authorized people (the President and governors) are given some discretion in the selection of non-government individuals to honor by flying the flag at half-staff.

There is but one appropriate occasion to annually fly the flag at half-staff for the same people after they have been honored at their deaths. This is during the morning hours of Memorial Day. To have lowered the flag to half-staff on the third (or any other) anniversary of 9/11/2001 was not appropriate. While it is good to remind us of the reason we are at war, this isn't the way to do it. A more appropriate way would be to fly a FDNY or NYPD flag at the fire and police stations.

One of the comments I ran into while researching this topic was:

"The honor and reverence accorded this solemn act is quickly becoming eroded by those individuals and agencies that display the flag at half-staff on inappropriate occasions without proper authority to do so."

- Robert L. Wilson, Storm Lake