FRESNO, Calif. -- Rodger McAfee, the San Joaquin Valley millionaire who has founded more than a dozen farm cooperatives in California and Mexico, is going to the Soviet Union for financing of his latest project.
'We don't want this to become an international football and there are no politics involved,' McAfee said. 'We're just looking for the best deal we can find to finance the project.
'The Soviets told me they would much rather invest $20 million in a humanitarian project such as mine than to build another bomber that they hoped wouldsit and rot on a Russian airfield,' he said.
McAfee, 42, said Tuesday he planned a trip to Russia beginning March 17 to seek a letter of intent from the Soviets for a $20 million loan to build a 1,500-acre cooperative farming and living community for the poor.
'The trip is all set up,' McAfee said. 'We will meet with the directors of the International Foreign Bank of the USSR and the International Bank for Cooperatives, seeking a letter of intent for $20 million to finance El Nido.'
El Nido is 1,500 acres of weeded fields in Merced County that McAfee and his Our Land Self Help Corporation own and plan to turn into a community of 26 acres of living space, six acres of playground, 1,425 acres of vineyards and the rest for roads and other structures.
Into this community, McAfee plans to move low income families who will pay low rents based on the cost of the apartments, townhouses and houses. They will be paid to work the vineyards.
'These people will keep their outside employment, and we'll pay them $500 for each acre of vineyards they work. Each family will be given between three and 20 acres of vineyard to work, depending on what it would take to bring their yearly income up to $8,500.'
He said each family would then receive a share of the profits OLSHC makes at the end of the year which McAfee said he hoped they would invest in a piece of land of their own.
McAfee, who was in the news briefly nine years ago when he put up the bail for black activist and avowed communist Angela Davis, said he and other members of his group have negotiated for the past several months with the U.S. Government and several foreign nations about financing the project.
'We saw the handwriting on the wall when Reagan became president,' McAfee said. 'We knew he was going to cut spending and that there was little chance of his administration coming up with the $20 million loan in the near future.'
If McAfee ends up taking the Soviet money, he said the fruit from the processing plant that will be built on El Nido will be sold to the Soviets at the going rate until the loan is paid off.