Dear editor,

You and the farmers you interviewed are so right!

The American public and Congress have taken our wonderful agricultural production system for granted for way too long. There are many valid reasons to maintain some level of agricultural production within the borders.

First, agriculture is food, fiber, and more: medicines come from the ag production, as well as energy and leather (for a myriad of uses). And these are just the first things that easily come to mind.

Second, food is an essential element for basic survival and the commodities sold in the raw form are essential first ingredients.

Third, no matter how World Trad Organization questions are resolved, we do not have the ultimate control over foreign production as it could be stopped due to currently unforeseeable wars, natural disasters and political shifts.

And there is no way to inspect and test everything that comes into the country, so imports will always carry a greater risk for health and safety. The globalization of trade is in some ways adding to our disease concerns and the increasing importation will only increase those risks.

Finally, there are not enough manufacturing and service jobs to employ the population that lives in rural America, and the agricultural production system is the major economic driver for a large percent of our people, so it behooves us all to address the issues.

It is time for some major efforts to increase the public and political valuing of the agricultural production system and the opportunity that is available to our country if we can find the right combination of trade, domestic support, and continued research and development for better production and maximum usage of the commodities.
Mary J. Fleming