A swamp's-eye view of farm subsidies

The front-page story ''GOP Draws Line in the Soil on Farm Subsidy Program,'' May 16, painted a one-sided picture of the effects of such programs. For balance, another story should show the many distortions in the marketplace due to such subsidies.

One example, among many, is the effect subsidies have on the use of sugar.

To plant more cane, sugar growers are draining swamp land and wiping out the habitat of many species in the Everglades. Major users escape the artificially high prices caused by subsidies by using sugar substitutes.

Without the subsidies, the world price of sugar would drop. Such an incentive could cause growers to switch to some other crop and could even prove environmentally advantageous by preserving a diminishing resource, America's wetlands.

In this sophisticated age when computers are tools as important as tractors and major universities offer agriculture programs, subsidies seem archaic.

Gene Chapman Beaverton, Ore.

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