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Ag budget should slash waste, not lifes essentials


Fri, May 6th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

What is the main purpose of agriculture in this country? If it is to feed people and support rural communities, as we believe it is, then taking a serious look at funding cuts being proposed for the U.S. agricultural budget is critical. Congressional agriculture committee chairs are proposing cuts that will decrease funding for people who need food and decimate programs that promote responsible care of our land. This simply is not right.

In March, budget drafts in the U.S. House reduced the agriculture budget for 2006 by $5.3 billion, and in the Senate by $2.8 billion. The House and Senate budget writers are now reconciling the cuts final amount. Many agree it would be best to minimize the size of the cuts. But if cuts must occur, Congress should reduce the waste at the top, and keep basic farm support, nutrition and conservation funding that helps millions of people and society as a whole.

The cost of the federal governments crop subsidy, or commodity, programs has averaged about $15 billion per year recently and is expected to reach $24 billion in 2005. These programs were originally designed to help family farmers. Congress has removed effective payment caps, allowing big agribusiness operations, especially in the South, to each get hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars annually for the production of five crops: cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and wheat.

According to the USDA, only 8 percent of producers receive 78 percent of the subsidies. Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of our nations farmers do not get any payments at all. Given budget demands, the responsible thing to do is set payment limits so that nutrition and conservation programs do not bear the brunt of budget cuts.

We need adequate funding for food programs now more than ever. More than 25 million people in America rely on food stamps. In Minnesota, 247,000 people received food stamps each month last year. As a society, the choice to fund huge subsidies to mega-farms over basic nutrition programs increases the food insecurity of our most vulnerable citizens. During each month of last year, an estimated 126,000 Minnesota children and 22,000 elderly staved off hunger with food stamps. Cutting food stamps will leave thousands of children, elderly and disabled persons wondering where their next meal is coming from--the definition of food insecurity.

Because of a sluggish economy, the .....
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Keep God out of politics

Fri, Apr 29th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

When I was a high schooler in the 60s playing basketball for a Catholic school it was quite common to step up to the free-throw line, make the sign of the cross and let fly. Of course, if you missed the shot it was also quite common to utter an oath ..... 
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Property rights - the case for freedom

Fri, Apr 22nd, 2005
Posted in Commentary

In the latter 1700s our nation was formed on a foundation of personal freedom. In particular, private property rights were established. That choice resulted in the richest, most powerful political entity ever to exist on planet Earth.

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Peaceful trout streams pose dangerous consequences

Fri, Apr 22nd, 2005
Posted in Commentary

The new fishing regulations are not the only thing trout anglers have to worry about this spring. For the first time in my memory some of the streams are dangerous. The summer of 2004 saw three or four rain storms that climatologists would class as ..... 
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When Congress plays God

Fri, Mar 25th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Congress spent more time passing legislation giving Terry Schiavos parents the right to sue in federal court than they did debating on whether to go to war in Iraq.  For the past 15 years, the brain damaged Schiavo has lived ..... 
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Bases in Iraq create occupier role for US

Fri, Mar 18th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

James Baker, in early February, warned that any appearance of a permanent occupation in Iraq by the US will both undermine domestic support here in the US and play directly into the hands of those in the Middle East who...suspect us of imperial desi ..... 
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PCA/OEA merger will benefit industry at expense of citizens

Fri, Mar 18th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

There is a proposal in Governor Pawlentys budget to merge the Pollution Control Agency and the Office of Environmental Assistance. This is being brought forward under the guise of saving money and increasing efficiency. This always sounds good but t ..... 
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Mistrust of Maust was Heartlands undoing

Fri, Mar 11th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Mayor Kurt Reicks & Members of the Preston City Council,  We're sorry to report that the Heartland Energy & Recycling project as has been presented, is no longer under consideration. We don't like to admit failure, but we hav ..... 
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A Free Press within a democracy

Fri, Feb 25th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

I believe I was in 5th grade when my dad was elected to the school board. The local headline, in our town of 2,300, read Flaig wins by a landslide. I recall that it was spring, and the two of us went to mass (on a week day!) to express our thanks f ..... 
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