Farm bill's disparities are improving gradually
Regarding your May 14 editorial, "A cornucopia for rich farmers": I live in California's San Joaquin Valley and know many farmers – some successful, some just getting by, some large, and many more small in size. Like most other businesses, getting larger is at times a matter of survival, given worldwide competition, commodity prices over time, regulation, urban development, etc.
Other countries consider their food production of the utmost importance and use subsidies and import tariffs that far exceed ours in order to protect this industry. The United States can be grateful for some of the lowest food prices of all nations, with immense variety and unsurpassed quality control. This is in no small part due to the US possessing some of the most productive lands for growing food, with good access to water, ideal climate zones, soils, processing plants, and agricultural education institutions that are second to none.
To keep this industry thriving should be paramount.
Historically, the farm bill has done that for an industry with immense variety state to state, complicated pricing mechanisms, and challenging supply and demand scenarios.
We all know of many industries with very large players having great political influence. Farming is no exception, but it has far less influence today than in past decades. Let's not take for granted the importance of growing food domestically. There are many imports we could do without if the supply is cut off. Food is not one of them.
In response to the May 19 article, "Farm bill highlights rich-poor debate": All the focus is still on the small part of the bill that doles out money to wealthy farmers. This in indeed atrocious.
However, it is getting better.
There is more work to be done, of course, but I think that Congress needs to be complimented for moving in the right direction in the face of some pretty stiff opposition.
Don't count on foreign help for dollar
In response to John K. Cooley's May 21 Opinion piece, "A view of the falling dollar from Europe": This piece was frighteningly educational. It exemplifies how our country and its currency have reached such dire circumstances. Rather than focus on long-term causes and solutions, we focus on immediate symptoms. The issue is not the euro's strength, it is the dollar's weakness. In purchasing power, our dollar is falling.
The article suggests that the European Central Bank (ECB) could "help" by purchasing large amounts of dollars or lowering their own interest rates. Iraq (pre-invasion) and Iran have partly switched from dollars to euros for oil payments. China threatens to dump dollars and US Treasury bonds if we enact trade sanctions. Under these circumstances, increasing dollar holdings would be equivalent to boarding a ship that is taking on water and at risk of being torpedoed. Decreasing ECB interest rates would likely cause more inflation for Europe.
Importance of biodiversity
Regarding the May 15 article, "Design perfected by nature": Why save the whales? Because, as this article shows, the whale lives that you save may turn out to help save our lives. Whales have had tubercles for a long time. We've just noticed that those tubercles might help us design new technology that will be part of the effort to stave off climate change and preserve a human-hospitable living environment on the planet.
So biodiversity matters. We have a lot to learn and we can learn a lot of it from plants and other animals.
Red Hook, N.Y.
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