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Issue Home August 1, 2007 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Dairy Bill Gaining Support

During the last week, several organizations have lined up in support of the Casey-Specter Dairy Bill S1722. The bill is commonly called “The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2007.”

Among other things, the bill mandates that dairy farmers’ prices will be established by using the national average cost of producing milk. The bill also calls for an inventory management program which will be funded by dairy farmers (no direct cost to USDA).

Larry Breech, President of Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) is urging Congress to pass S1722. Breech said, “S1722 conforms with the policy of PFU.”

Likewise, Glenn Swartz, who heads the Pennsylvania division of National Farmers Organization (NFO), agrees that S1722 is the only bill that has been introduced that will be a real benefit for dairy farmers.

Joel Greeno, President of American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (ARMPPA) and John Peck, Executive Director of Family Farm Defenders (FFD), both from Wisconsin, believe that S1722 should be supported. Both organizations are multi-state organizations.

Gordon Hiller, a former Master (President) and Executive Committee member of the Pennsylvania State Grange said, “S1722 is the most sensible, impressive, and well-written legislation I have ever seen presented to the Congress that would honestly and effectively support the US dairy industry and all who depend on quality dairy products in the American marketplace.”

Recently, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Resolution 360. The resolution claims to support the national dairy policy reform that was drawn up by PA Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff and some dairy economists.

Although the intentions of the sponsors of H.R. 360 were probably honorable, they should have taken a closer look at the proposal. First and foremost is the fact that Secretary Wolff’s recommendations will do little or nothing to increase or stabilize prices paid to dairy farmers.

Equally important is the revelation that the Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Agriculture Committee, Representative Mike Hanna (D-Clinton/Centre) calls for the continuation of both the milk price support program and the “Milk Income Loss Contract”(MILC) payments to dairy farmers. These two issues are contradictory to Secretary Wolff’s proposal.

Please note on page 1 of Secretary Wolff’s proposal that has been introduced in the US Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance that Section 1 states “Repeal Of Dairy Price Support Program.” This means no more milk price support program!

In addition, on page 1, note the following: Section 2. Milk Target Price Program. This bill, in all probability, will eliminate the “Milk Income Loss Contract” payments, and, in their place, a target price of $12.00 per cwt will be established under Class III milk. Once the Class III price dips under $12.00 per cwt then producers who qualify will receive some payment.

A $12.00 per cwt Class III price would mean the Class I (fluid milk) price has probably declined to $15.25. This is totally unacceptable! Remember, the “Milk Income Loss” payments kick in when the Class I price drops below $16.94 per cwt. And some people call Secretary Wolff’s national dairy policy reform an “improvement!”

Room does not permit me to address some of the other shortcomings of this dairy reform bill at this time.

I would strongly encourage the House of Representatives to pass a resolution in support of the Casey-Specter Dairy Bill S1722. This bill calls for dairy farmers’ prices to be predicated on the national average cost of production, installs an inventory management program to be paid for by the dairy farmers, and removes many of the burdensome costs currently being levied on dairy farmers.

If the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture can continue to mail out information about their dairy policy recommendations, maybe it’s time for them to mail out information to Pennsylvania dairy farmers regarding the Casey-Specter Bill S1722.

PRO AG can be reached at (570) 833-5776.


Arden Tewksbury

Meshoppen, PA

Who Are They Hurting?

It all sounds relevant. Dairy “prices skyrocket because of the production of ethanol."

Give the farmers a chance, it does take time for the seeds to grow. Come on!

This all started last year, as soon as there was a way to make money made on ethanol negative. It was and still is a win-win situation for the large companies. They make money no matter what happens, if the price of a barrel of crude goes up, or the price we have to pay for medicine. So who is complaining? My opinion is that they are rubbing America’s nose in it.

The minimum wage went up today, and the stock market lost 226 points, another win-win for business. I have never heard of as many excuses, how to rub Americans’ noses in it! Oil can hit $100 a barrel, or it could hit $50; either way, they win. Seed prices hit an all-time high, fertilizer and any agricultural tool. Heck, the price of this year’s seed went up last year, just on the breath of the word “ethanol.”

Truly, if you all look closely, they are rubbing America's nose in it! United we stand; how does the rest of that saying go? Just who are they hurting?


Peter A. Seman

Thompson, PA

How Utterly Wasteful

I was just at the grocery store and as usual, requested paper bags instead of plastic, for two reasons: 1. I use the paper bags for cat litter and under the cats' food bowls, and 2. because using plastic is stupid and irresponsible unless you want to finish the job we've done of ruining the planet sooner than expected. So what does the check-out person do? She wraps a container of potato salad and two bottles of shampoo in separate plastic bags and pops them into the paper bag. Huh?

My mother, and sixty trillion other people in her day, brought home from the store shampoo bottles in the same paper bag as food. And guess what – nothing ever happened. I do not remember ever tasting soapy meat loaf or salad. This is just another way we Americans have of ruining the environment for everyone else, of being so let-them-eat-cake.

Report from IKEA: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. consumes over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps every year. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags, and less than one percent of them get recycled. Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene are the worst culprits. They will accumulate and persist on our planet for up to a thousand years.

If you want to see in pictures how utterly wasteful we are, check out “Intolerable Beauty” at www.chrisjordan.com/.

When I see these pictures, I could cry.


Margaret Karmazin

Susquehanna, PA

All Things Work Together

I chose not to attend the “open to the public” meeting of the esteemed Board of Directors of Barnes-Kasson County Hospital on Thursday, July 26. I felt it would be as productive as the lack of response to my suggestions for any positive change in the facility.

Authoritative power can be intimidating and dictatorially destructive! Those under such power can be deemed useless and fearfully simple-minded unless a body of judicially responsible individuals can convince an authoritative power of their inane decisions and their actions, especially when they affect so many people dedicated to such a caring cause.

Good luck to anyone to save this facility and get good incentives to keep the most important aides who are opting to leave their facility in large numbers!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to this purpose.” Romans 8:28


Audrey Kerr

New Milford, PA

They Are To Be Commended

Seven years ago when I went through chemotherapy at Barnes-Kasson Hospital, I was impressed with the oncology facilities and especially the two women, Kathy Woodmansee and Carole Tingley, who, I felt, personified the definition of “nurse.” Recently, I was again impressed  with what Barnes offers the community through the PT department.

Dr. Jack Henzes performed a total knee replacement on me at Moses Taylor Hospital on April 19. After my operation, I spent seven days at Allied PT in Moses Taylor and then had two weeks’ home health care. I began my two-month physical therapy at Barnes in early May. I chose Barnes not only for the convenience, but also because I had heard great things about the PT department in general, and Dr. Kevin Zarnowski in particular.

All of the personnel in the PT department were courteous and friendly, but the people I had the most contact with were Bonnie Pulice and Dr. Zarnowski. Bonnie is truly a delightful person, who is caring and compassionate.

As far as my therapy was concerned, I worked with Kevin for all but two sessions. Barnes truly has a “find” in this young man. He is competent, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly, but he was able to push me to the limit in my exercises with a sense of humor and empathy. I was able to appreciate his knowledge and his humor, even through the painful rehab. In addition, he appears to have a very comfortable working relationship with the other personnel, which made me feel comfortable and at ease. At the end of the two months, my knee was exactly where he predicted and my doctor is very pleased with my progress. As you can see, I am a Dr. Kevin “fan” and hope that he will be at Barnes when I have my other knee done in the future.

I have no hesitation about singing the praises of the PT department, nor would I hesitate to recommend Barnes to anyone who needs physical therapy.

The hospital board and Mrs. Iveson are to be commended for the quality professionals that they hire to provide care for the people of Susquehanna and the county.


Jean Kosko

Susquehanna, PA

Don't Be Stampeded

It seems we have a modern day Natural Gas Rush, with company landmen pursuing county farmers and landowners for leases to their gas and oil rights. This activity is driven by increasing demand and prices for natural gas (wellhead prices have doubled in a few years); the existence of deep pockets of gas (Trenton Black River formation, which extends to our area); and new drilling technology that reaches these deposits.

Leasing can be a good deal for landowners with upfront rental payments and the prospect of royalty payments if gas is produced. These benefits are gained by giving up some surface and underground property rights in the lease. A lease can control your use of the land for long after the rental payment is spent. So, understand it well before signing and don't be rushed by fear of losing your gas deposits to a neighbor's well. Two points strike me as key.

First, decide whether you want to lease, what you want to gain and what you're willing to give up. All lease contracts are negotiable and can be amended to suit your needs. You can find good advice at the County Extension Office or on the web, starting with this site: http://naturalgaslease.pbwiki.com .

Second, don't be stampeded or bullied into a lease by fear that the "Rule of Capture" lets a company drain all the gas under your land from a neighboring property. A few landmen may say this (one did to me) and it can be confusing because that "rule" and claim does apply for shallow gas wells. But, according to the PA DEP, that's not true for deep wells; and those are the ones the companies want to drill.

Let's take a direct quote from the DEP fact sheet 2834, rev.4/2007 titled, "Landowners and Oil and Gas Leases in Pennsylvania". The key excerpt in a Q&A format is :

Question - "I own the oil and gas on a small tract surrounded by others and I don't want to lease it, but the neighboring owners are developing or leasing theirs. Can I lose my oil or gas or be forced to lease it?"

Answer – "Your oil or gas could be produced or captured from a well outside your property tract boundaries. In fact, your only protection is if your oil or gas property is subject to the Oil and Gas Conservation Law, 58 P.S. § 401.1 et seq. If so, the gas on your property could be included in a unitization or pooling order issued by the Commonwealth at the behest of a producer on a neighboring tract. That well operator would then have to pay you a production royalty based on your prorated share of the production from the well, depending on how much of your tract was deemed to be contributing to the well's pool. This law applies to oil or gas wells that penetrate the Onondaga horizon and are more than 3,800 feet deep. DEP does not oversee or regulate pooling agreements in any way, except to see that the agreement is in place, if required, before issuing a permit to drill the well."

There's more, but the DEP bottom line is that "Rule of Capture" applies only to development of oil or gas which is not subject to the Conservation Law. But if it's a deep well – and that's where the big money and interest is, then the PA Oil and Gas Conservation Law controls and the landowner should get at least the minimum PA-mandated 1/8 royalty payment. The details get set when the gas company seeks a permit for a deep gas production well under the provisions of Chapter 79 of the Conservation Law or leases with you.

So don't be stampeded. It's your land and your property rights. If you decide to lease your gas rights, check the available leasing information, get a lawyer's help and negotiate a lease that fits your needs.


Gene Famolari

Montrose, PA

Whom The Gods Would Destroy...

War is a commodity; it is something that is hawked and bought. Like soap is advertised to kill germs, or OTC nostrums are peddled to make one feel better, wars are advertised along the same line. Scratch out "germs" in the soap commercials and write in "terrorists." And in the OTC nostrums ads, cross out "feel better" and write in "feel safer." It all falls within the purview of Mad Ave.

So how does the government go about selling this product? First, the people must be convinced that an implacable enemy (the latest is Iran) is plotting to destroy America – maybe the world. How? Terrorist alerts changing like traffic lights and a barrage of hyped-up stories about Iran and the looming next 9/11. It's got Americans jumpier than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Can mommy government protect us from the evil Iranians? She's trying her best. Much is made of diplomatic efforts that tragically come to no avail. Of course, if the gov has a predetermined policy for war, then the diplomacy would be designed to fail.

Consider the administration's "willingness" to have talks with Iran about suspension of its nuclear research, providing it first stops nuclear research. One wonders: What, then, is there to negotiate?

The next stop along this ritualized road to war is a rest stop at the U.N. The U.S. will try to persuade the Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran for its supposed clandestine nuclear-bomb research. Never mind the fact that there is no evidence, the suspicion becomes the evidence, and the evidence becomes the proof. Neat.

The Security Council passed a perfunctory package of sanctions. For its part, the U.S. will continue its 28-year long trade restrictions against Tehran. They will fail. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq for 13 years, and on India and Pakistan in 1998 to stop their nuclear tests. They all failed.

Eventually, the administration will be free to say we tried diplomacy, we tried the U.N., and we tried sanctions – they came to naught. Now that all the boxes have been checked, there is only one option left...

Bombs away. There are about fifteen hundred targets in Iran, 400 of which are aim points for suspected nuclear activities, 75 of these are buried under as much as 50 feet of reinforced concrete and soil. There are only two ways to take out such deeply-buried installations: repeated strikes with bunker busters carrying conventional explosives, or a single hit with a ground-penetrating B61-11 atomic bomb.

A subsurface detonation of a 1 kiloton B61 will pulverize everything to a depth of 150 feet. It will create a crater 500 feet across, propelling vastly more radioactive dust and debris into the atmosphere than in either 10-kiloton nuclear air blast over Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Madness, you say? Madness, indeed, but not without method. The administration believes that atomic weapons can be so intimidating, so paralyzing frightful that retaliation will be unthinkable. The United States will be seen as an irresistible force. Iran – the entire Middle East – will see resistance as futile. For those left alive, it will be the dawn of a grand and glorious Pax Americana, or is it Pox Americana?

Twenty-four hundred years ago the Greek dramatist, Euripides, wrote, "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." The gods are at work.

Bob Scroggins

New Milford. PA

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