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Farm Subsidies Bear Rotten Fruit

June 14, 2002

We have been duped again. "Some Farmers Growing Rich on Government Crop Subsidies" (June 10) revealed that 67% of U.S. farm subsidies paid to California farms goes to 10% of the farmers. The story continues with, as an example, the fact that without those subsidies, rice couldn't be grown in California because the farmer would lose $50 to $150 per acre.

I recently flew over Northern California's rice fields. It looked as if the 1993 El Nino had returned--there were submerged fields for as far as the eye could see north of Sacramento.

I imagined this water being available for humans to drink instead of supporting a crop that loses money without subsidies. Certainly that ground could grow another, less-thirsty crop.

And do you know what happens to those fields after harvest? They are burned to rid them of rice straw. The skies over Northern California are dark with rice smoke (and later, all the Central Valley, as prevailing winds mix it with pollutants from the Bay Area and carry the choking scourge southward).

The lunacy of federal crop subsidies must be ended. American taxpayers thought they were, in 1996. Just so much political blather, as usual.

Gregg K. Knowles

Bakersfield

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Let's apply the basic principles of welfare reform to welfare for farmers--in particular, with a five-year lifetime limit on crop subsidies. That will help end the cycle of dependency and force farmers to stand on their own two feet and not rely on government handouts.

Paul C. Eklof

Costa Mesa

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