Maryland farmers protect environment, but suffer strainsOn...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 12, 1999

Maryland farmers protect environment, but suffer strains

On behalf of 14,000 farm families in Maryland, I strenuously object to The Sun's article that suggested poultry farms on the lower shore are one of the causes of the decline in bay grasses ("Bay loses 5,740 acres of grasses," May 28).

While the article acknowledged that a recently passed law mandates nutrient controls on farms, it ignored that farmers in Maryland have voluntarily used nutrient management plans to protect the environment for more than 10 years.

In fact, Maryland leads the nation in farm conservation practices. Studies conducted last year by two state agencies showed that 70 percent of poultry farmers on the lower shore were using voluntary nutrient management plans.

Maryland farmers are as committed as anyone to protecting the natural resources of this state. Farmers cannot afford to mismanage the land or water on which they and their children depend.

As The Sun's article acknowledged, scientists cannot say for sure what caused the rebound of bay grasses since the late 1980s. Last year's decline is a puzzle as well. We do know that because of weather conditions, farmers suffered similar declines in crop yields.

Three years of drought, low commodity prices and the rapid increase in the number of deer, geese and other species feeding on farm crops have put many Maryland farmers in jeopardy.

It's now time for The Sun and Maryland's citizens to start a "Save the Farmer" campaign to go along with the very successful "Save the Bay" campaign.

Stephen L. Weber, Randallstown

The writer is president of the Maryland Farm Bureau Inc.

Tobacco plan will be model for the nation

The 10-year, $1 billion plan Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced last week ("Tobacco accord to aid health," June 4) to reduce tobacco use, fight drug addiction and conquer cancer will become a national model.

Smoke Free Maryland applauds the $30 million a year the plan allocates for tobacco-use prevention and cessation. This is the amount experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the state needs for a program that will dramatically reduce tobacco use.

We will only see a large decline in cancer deaths across Maryland if tobacco use is cut. The governor recognized the connection, and for that we are grateful.

In January, state lawmakers will have the opportunity to approve this progressive plan. We hope they will do so quickly.

Maryland, once a haven for lung cancer, heart disease and other tobacco-caused diseases, would then become known for its aggressive and innovative approach to improving public health.

Dr. Albert L. Blumberg, Baltimore

The writer is president of Smoke Free Maryland.

Physician-senator no friend to tobacco-use prevention

When will Andrew Harris, my chameleon-like state senator from Baltimore County, stop trying to deceive the public into thinking he is for anti-smoking efforts? ("Few supporters for a real war on teen smoking," May 19).

Senator Harris was among the leaders of the April filibuster against a higher tobacco tax. Public health advocates know a higher tobacco tax is the most effective way to reduce teen smoking, but for some reason the good doctor wouldn't listen.

Constituents need only look at Senator Harris' behavior and votes this past session to see his real bent. He tried to kill the tobacco tax and, when that did not work, he voted against the bill which included $21 million for tobacco-use prevention.

This physician-turned-senator has not been a friend to tobacco-use prevention.

Linda J. Coveleskie, Lutherville

State's tobacco farmers don't merit public support

The Sun's article "Tobacco accord to aid health" (June 4) said, "The governor's plan calls for spending . . . $8.35 million a year to help tobacco farmers convert to other crops" and that the governor noted "8,000 acres are producing tobacco in Maryland today."

Tobacco farmers already receive welfare from the taxpayers in the form of price supports and the allotment program. Is the governor actually proposing to spend more than $1,000 per acre to teach farmers how to grow vegetables and open roadside stands?

Why not simply eliminate tobacco allotments? In a free market, tobacco farmers would quickly shift to other crops, without any cost to the taxpayers.

Howard M. Taylor, Towson

Develop a SWAT team for the United Nations

The best way to prevent another tragedy like the war and crimes against humanity in Kosovo is very simple.

The United Nations should form an international SWAT team.

The next time some leader tries to do the sorts of things that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has done in Kosovo, the SWAT team should take him and his henchmen into custody. Then they should be tried by a World Court tribunal. This could prevent so much misery and expense.

Thelma Neubauer, Forest Hill

Protect the trees, protect the environment

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