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Issue Home July 11, 2007 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

The Heart Of America

From the farm to the small town; today I realized farmers across America and the world do have roots. Being the Fourth of July, I went to the local firemen’s picnic.

The fire house is built on the playground where I went to grade school. I met the people of the town, but today I met the heart of America. It sort of hit me like a ton of bricks, something I never felt until today. I grew up on a dairy farm, but my roots go farther than that. Things I never needed to see or wonder about, how the people in the town grew up. How the town depended on the farms to support, hand in hand.

Each of us have special dreams of how we want to fit into nature. Time does play a role as we all age. Today we talked about ethanol and green cars and how precious time is and how the farmers are almost all gone. How my daughter went to war and is now back on the farm! Bio diesel and soybeans.

The small farms, like where my grandfathers and uncles, and mother and father came from holds the roots of America together. Roots for the plants of the future to grow, roots for the children of the world to live. The roots all start from a seed and it takes a special type of person to help those little seeds grow; time, sunshine and rain. Work, planting seeds, I always took for granted, now suddenly means so much.

People of our small town have changed. Some of them are gone but the heart of America still lives on.

A small part of our life, that means so much, sometimes is hard to describe. Remember, we could have been born anywhere in the world. God Bless America! God bless our world!


Peter A. Seman

Thompson, PA

Time Is Running Out!

As we move into July, various dairy bills are being placed on the table in Washington, DC, for consideration. However, I fail to see where there is any real validity in the majority of them. Most of them are the “same-old-same-old” provisions that have continually kept dairy farmers’ prices on a rollercoaster ride. Certainly, these rollercoaster rides are not in the best interest of consumers, and they are extremely painful to the average dairy farmer. I would think these rollercoaster rides would be confusing to many milk handlers. I have talked to many store owners and managers, and they are completely baffled by the pricing system.

This time dairy farmers have a choice. Do you want to continue with the same pricing mechanism that has forced many dairy farmers out of business, or are you ready to accept a new pricing concept that will give the average dairy farmer a fair chance to survive? Let’s look at some of the options.

Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Robert Casey (D-PA) have introduced Senate Bill 1722, called “The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2007.” This is the bill that was developed by the Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag) with the help of the National  Family Farm Coalition (NFFC).

A. All milk in the United States would be priced by the national average cost of producing milk on our dairy farms. The Economic Research Service (ERS), a division of the USDA, develops these figures.

B. The bill eliminates milk hauling charges being paid by dairy farmers.

C. The bill eliminates any “make allowances” for manufacturing plants being charged to dairy farmers.

D. The bill calls for a national price for Class I Milk (milk used for bottling, etc.) and a national price for milk used for manufacturing purposes. Presently, the Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO) use basically the same prices for manufactured milk.

E. All state orders would come under the provisions of this bill, including California.

F. The prices paid to dairy farmers would vary only as a result of the utilization factor in each market. Some orders have a higher Class I utilization than others. This would not change.

G. Producers in a milk order with a lower Class I utilization will have favorable prices as a result of all manufactured milk being classified as Class II milk. Also, these prices will be higher than prices received by dairy farmers in the past.

H. Senate Bill 1722 calls for an inventory management program that requires the dairy farmers who produce milk over the market needs to pick up the cost of the program. To begin with, if the USDA Secretary of Agriculture estimates there will be extra milk produced, then all dairy farmers would receive less for up to 5% of their milk (it can’t be higher, but it could be lower). The price received for this milk would be half the value of manufactured milk. Remember, dairy farmers would receive the top price for at least 95% of their milk. Any additional charges would be paid only by the dairy farmers who produce milk above the previous year’s production. Again, none of the “supply management program” would kick in if milk production stays within the needs of the market.

I. The inventory management program would not be implemented unless the export and imports of dairy products are at least equal. In other words, imports of dairy products would not be allowed to destroy dairy farmers’ prices.

J. Milk prices paid to dairy farmers would be adjusted four times a year by the US Secretary of Agriculture.

K. The beauty of Senate Bill 1722’s plan is that there would be no direct cost to USDA.

I was astonished to read in Country Folks that New York Agriculture Commissioner Pat Hooker, said Congress should either extend the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments or establish a floor price of $15.58 per cwt. for fluid milk. This is incredible! If the Class I price is allowed to fall to $15.58 per cwt. for fluid milk, then all other classes of milk would take an unthinkable decrease! A $15.58 Class I price would mean a statistical price of around $13.75 per cwt! Is this the best solution that the agriculture “leadership” in Albany can come up with?

Pro Ag can be reached at 833-5776.


Arden Tewksbury

Meshoppen, PA

Starry Night

Are we alone, all alone? Or, perhaps, in the vastness of space are there other civilizations orbiting other stars? In 1961, Dr. Frank Drake attempted an answer with an equation. It's a series of seven variables strung together that when multiplied give a guesstimate of the number of planets in our galaxy harboring intelligent life. Drake's answer? Ten. Dr. Carl Sagan, using the same equation, came up with 1 million. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) began immediately and with high hopes.

Drake's equation rests on two assumptions. One, that evolution is basic, whether from Darwin's "little warm puddle," or from comets seeding the earth, life cannot be unique to earth. And two, the invention of radio would be elementary to any advanced civilization. Radio waves radiate outwards at the speed of light. By this time, ETs 50 light years from earth should be picking up "I Love Lucy" and we, likewise, should be able to detect their radio transmissions though presumably a cut above the 50's favorite.

Since SETI started listening, the number of radio telescopes and the electronics to sift through radio frequencies has doubled every two years. The recently completed Allen Array, 40 radio receivers wired together (in radio astronomy bigger is better), coupled with top-of-the-tree technology has taken the search to a higher level. Even home computers, five million of them, have joined the search at SETI@home.

But thus far, after four decades of listening, only the sound of silence.

To be fair, there are a lot of planets in the universe. There are about 400 billion stars in our galaxy and an estimated 100 billion galaxies. Multiply that out. Then multiply that by two, the number of planets that Drake estimated to be orbiting each star. The answer: eight, followed by 22 zeros is the number of planets in the known universe.

To get an idea of just how big that number is, let's compare it to the number of grains of sand on the earth. Mathematicians have estimated this to be 75 followed by 17 zeros. This means that for every grain of sand there are almost 11,000 planets.

Who knows, maybe sometime in the future a SETI searcher will pickup a little-green-man transmission. But to date, he remains stubbornly coy.

This poses a dilemma for the evolutionists. The universe is thought to be 13 billion years old. Radio transmissions from evolution's menagerie of monstrosities had millions, even billions of years to reach the earth. But no, only the “swisssh” of star static. Could it be that in the entire universe evolution has succeeded only once? The odds against this are so outrageously lopsided as to cast doubt on the sensibility of the theory.

On the other hand, for those who believe in a supernatural creation, a similarly perplexing question is posed. Why would God create what amounts to an infinite universe? A universe so impossibly vast that it defies comprehension?

The evolutionists gaze at the sky and ask, “Where are they?” The creationists wonder, “Why are they?” Yet measured against the starry sky all differences and disputes fade to nothingness. After all, what are we but specks, living on a speck, drifting amidst a boundless cloud of specks.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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