Letters To The Editor


June 09, 2008

Are farmers doing enough to aid bay?

While I agree that the state should work cooperatively with farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region, I disagree with the notion that farmers have not done their fair share to help clean up the bay.

The Sun's editorial "Chicken-hearted?" (June 3) cites the "flush tax" on sewer bills and stricter controls on shoreline development as examples of what non-farmers have done to help the bay.

But it neglected to mention that back in 1998, all Maryland's farms were required by the state to develop mandatory nutrient-management plans, even though many Maryland farms were already using voluntary nutrient-management plans.

Nutrient-management plans for farms limit the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that can be applied to the land - a limit that is based upon the needs of the crop the farmers are growing.

The new permit process proposed to regulate poultry manure adds additional restrictions to the list of those already imposed on all farms in Maryland ("Runoff rules may exempt many farms," June 1).

And it is not right to lead Maryland citizens to believe that farmers are not doing their part.

Valerie Connelly, Randallstown

The writer is director of government relations for the Maryland Farm Bureau Inc., a trade group representing the state's farmers.

After the Maryland Department of the Environment's new regulations on chicken waste management are enacted, I'm sure the suffocating fish and other bay wildlife will be happy that their survival will be endangered by smaller poultry farmers, not by mega-farms ("Runoff rules may exempt many farms," June 1).

Or will they? It seems that one minute politicians commit to getting aggressive on bay protections and the next they lose their spine.

At least the last governor never made a pretense of being environmentally inclined - we knew what we were in for from the beginning.

But in the case of Democrats, who claim to be the party of environmental protection, the collapse on this point is more annoying. Apparently, most of them either bend with the wind or don't know how to respond to small farmers' demands for blank checks.

While I have sympathy for the plight of the family farmer, and I am grateful for the food I enjoy, no one is entitled to a blank check - no one.

Being a family farmer does not make chicken waste bacteria-free or make it smell like roses.

If you make a mess, you need to clean it up properly - not leave it for someone else.

Mark E. Rifkin, Baltimore

Deception on war deserves rebuke

The just -released Senate Intelligence Committee report confirms that President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top administration officials engaged in a deliberate, systematic and sustained propaganda campaign to manufacture support for the unnecessary, unjustified and illegal invasion of Iraq ("Senate committee rebukes Bush," June 6).

Mr. Bush and company did so by continually repeating information that was widely suspected or known to be false, misleading or incomplete.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration insisted that the legal justification for the necessary U.S. invasion of Iraq was based on "irrefutable evidence," which was later dismissed as faulty intelligence.

The Senate report reinforces a very long list of reliable evidence that the Bush invasion of Iraq was unnecessary, unjustified and inevitable.

Such behavior must not go unpunished in a nation of laws.

Michael J. Marsalek, Bel Air

Mideast status quo foments violence

In The Sun's article "Obama stresses support for Israel" (June 5), Sen. Barack Obama criticizes President Bush's eight years of failed policies that have "destabilized the Middle East and jeopardized both U.S. and Israeli security."

But the problem here is not eight years of failure; it is 60 years of ignoring the legal rights of the Palestinians living inside and outside Israel that has created numerous human catastrophes.

The U.S. has rejected countless U.N. resolutions calling on Israel to allow Palestinians to return to their homes and/or receive just compensation for their losses. Until it recognizes the just demands of the Palestinians, the United States will continue to contribute to and receive the bitter fruits cultivated by the oppression of the Palestinians.

The 41 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank is a major cause of today's radical Islamic fundamentalism.

Continued support for the status quo is a recipe for the further isolation of the U.S. and Israel on the world stage.

Tom O. Smith, Baltimore

Israeli lobby exerts excessive influence

Sen. Barack Obama has outdone all others in his pandering to the Israeli lobby ("Obama stresses support for Israel," June 5).

He has now promised to go even further than the Bush administration has in giving Israel just about anything it wants.

It seems that no one can be elected to public office in the United States unless he or she bows to the demands of the Israeli lobby. But Mr. Obama has gone beyond the normal kow-towing.

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