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Farmland

July 26, 1998

* The Times ("Keeping Farms Rooted," editorial, July 18) repeats the fashionable canard of the 1990s: We are running out of "prime" farmland. The facts are that we grow more food using less land and less labor each year. Farmland use in the U.S. peaked in 1930. Farm labor use peaked before we started keeping records.

Markets continuously reallocate resources to their highest and best uses. This explains how humanity escaped the Malthusian trap--and, in general, lives better each year. Assigning this function to politicians and mandarins, as The Times seems to suggest, ignores the truth that, around the world, people eat more and eat better when food production and politics are kept apart.

PETER GORDON

HARRY W. RICHARDSON

Depts. of Urban Planning and Economics, USC

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