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July 18-25, 2007

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Letters to the Editor


Viva La Biofuel Revolucion!

BEFORE it was known that even cooking oil can make fuel, we had the example of what Brazil was doing. Concerned about their dependence on foreign oil, Brazilians elected to replace the oil used for diesel fuel with biomass. This was wise because oil refines into about three gallons less diesel than gasoline per barrel. Their idea to eliminate the least efficient use was one of many innovations completely lost on American policymakers.

The best use of these technologies in America would be to address the problem that's been killing farmers since 1920. Overproduction creates more food than can be marketed profitably. Surplus, spoiled and substandard food all could be manipulated to keep farm prices high plus market what can't be sold here or overseas as fuel.

However, this would have given farmers more power in their dealings with Cargill, Dole, Del Monte, General Mills—the people who pick through their produce and pay "whatever's right." So, "for a variety of reasons"—Reagan, Bush, Congress, our corporate masters and social betters —this somehow never came to pass.

Mustard is a good biofuel. It takes nitrogen from the air and "fixes it" into the soil. But the more farmers you have working on it, the better this works. Ken Kimes ("Mustard Gas," News & Views, Aug. 8) mentions strawberries—when the harvest is over, throw all the leftovers in the mix, apples too; all, or nearly all, organic material can be used for fuel. Then recycle the residues back into the fields.

On a decentralized level this can still uplift the farm economy. Santa Cruz to Moss Landing is decentralized. Iowa to Moss Landing is one more reason J. Russell Smith called corn "the killer of continents."

This life's too short to have so much Texas and Saudi Arabia in it. It's time for California to "grow our own."

Scott Kane, San Jose

Do Your Homework

THANK YOU for the story on small farmers and the 2007 Farm Bill (Cover story, July 25). The writers address several significant issues that affect Santa Cruz County farmers, particularly organic growers like Route 1 Farms and other small farms who struggle to produce crops in an environmentally sustainable and health-conscious way.

We were a little disappointed that the writers did not contact the local USDA office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that administers several Farm Bill conservation incentive programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Conservation Innovative Grants, Wetland Reserve Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. All these programs and others are available to local small farmers. Although some years NRCS receives more requests than funding (like in 2004 as mentioned in your article), in most years there is more money available for conservation in Santa Cruz County than applicants, like this year, when we sent back over $200,000 of unobligated EQIP funds.

We felt that your cover story headline, "Thanks, Anyway: Some California Farmers Don't Want Government Help and Those That Do Are Out of Luck," was a little unjust and perhaps painted a slightly separate picture than the full content of the story, which, by the way, was very well reported. Although there may very well be farmers in other parts of the country that are "out of luck" due to limited funds, that is hardly the case in Santa Cruz County.

In the future we would hope that your news articles involving government programs and/or public service agencies include responses from any local government entity mentioned in your article. The article's incorrect assertion that the Farm Bill will deprive Santa Cruz farmers of adequate conservation program funding might actually discourage these same farmers from requesting the program and technical assistance that they need, and are eligible for, through the Capitola Office of NRCS and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County. Farmers and the public can visit our websites for more information and details of our services at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov; and www.rcdsantacruz.org. When it comes to USDA programs and technical services for conservation and ecological stewardship, small farms in Santa Cruz County are still "in luck!"

Rich Casale, Capitola

Globalists in charge

LET'S LET Brad Wills' death ("Who Killed Brad Will?," Cover Story, Aug. 8) mean something. Many have died for what they believed in. In the future, reader, realize that there are very dangerous parts of cities, countries and territories; get a good thorough survey of what you could be walking into. I've learned there must be conservative, liberal, moderate and radical voices advising you, then make your decision. Each entity must be allied and have access to weapons, in case you fall victim to propaganda.

Lastly, in the upcoming election; America has a phenomenon. Most of you think you've voted for Republicans/Democrats/Surfers Party, or a multitude of third parties, but there is strong evidence globalists control who's in power here. They are loyal to no one—they want money and power. Learn who they are! I'll put up my hard-earned rights, in our Bill of Rights, against any foreign government, religion or theory. When you back foreign ideas, look at the rights you will have taken away and what you have now.

Harold Shaw, Aptos


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