To the June 11 writer who thinks Minnesota produces only corn and soybeans and no vegetables (“There’s farming, and there’s farming”), these are the numbers put out by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in 2012:

Minnesota produces 41 percent of all U.S. green peas, 37 percent of the sweet corn and 39 percent of the sugar beets, totaling 670,000 acres. We also grow another 230,000 acres of dry edible beans, potatoes and sunflowers. And yes, we rank third, fourth and third, respectively, in the nation for soybean, corn and spring wheat production.

As you can see, Minnesota is huge in both human and animal food crop production.

Dean Schutte, Kenyon, Minn.


Not so fast? Not so fast. (Other factors.)

It was interesting and helpful to read about the “Amazing Race” between car, bike, train and bus from St. Paul to Minneapolis (“Get out the stopwatch,” June 17). Now, let’s compare a few other aspects of transit, such as health benefits to the rider, financial costs, safety and the environmental impact.

Jennifer Anderson, Minneapolis



Primary challenges expose political flaw

It is too bad that both parties are threatened by competitive primaries (“In primary fights, Minnesota parties fight for relevance,” June 16). They should be the first to encourage “we the people,” not party activists, to select the party candidates.

Worse, in order to be a delegate at a party convention, one has to start by attending caucus night. This is a system that so disenfranchises voters who cannot attend that one has to wonder why it exists in a state known for being progressive and inclusive.

If the parties determine that their endorsements are the only activity that sustains them, then they should be disbanded and start afresh — perhaps by visiting other states where both the parties and competitive primaries are alive and kicking.

Hanna Hill, Plymouth



It’s better to have one steering wheel

There used to be a maxim in foreign-policy decisions, which was that politics ended at the water’s edge — that is, domestic politicians deferred to the president and his team on foreign policy, and if they opposed that policy, they kept quiet. But now, as Clive Crook pointed out (“The risk of all-or-nothing politics,” June 17), international politics are as divisive as domestic politics, with all players working to score points with their bases and with swing voters. The result is an incoherent foreign policy that serves no one.

Lurching from adventuresome policies to variations of isolationism will, in the end, accomplish nothing and confuse our allies and enemies alike. The 24/7 news cycle encourages this sort of politicking and is as complicit as the players themselves.

Judy Duffy, Birchwood

• • •

People in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and around the world are struggling to establish modern political arrangements for themselves. They need to do this in their own time and space, just as America has been doing for itself over the past 250 years. Developing consensus is messy, slow and often requires fighting to resolve issues of justice. Outside interference only complicates and prolongs the struggle. We might imagine the outcome if France had tried to move in and make order for us as we fought the British in 1776.

In Vietnam and in Iraq, America sought to choose the winners and set up governments to our liking over the wishes of those nations’ citizens. We failed in both instances. Crook suggests that we might have succeeded if only we had stayed longer and invested more. He seems to feel that the tens of thousands of casualties, the trillions of dollars and the decades spent did not show determination on our part. I disagree. Insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome.

Great nations have been brought to their knees by incessant spending on colonial wars that never seem to end. America has paid a terrible price for its adventures in Vietnam and Iraq in terms of shattered lives, economies and national consensus. And for what? No, it is wise to resist temptation and stay out of other peoples’ civil wars.

William J. Graham, Burnsville



Want change? First consider consequences

In response to the June 17 editorial “Another reason to reform state’s teacher tenure law,” it is possible in Minnesota to fire a teacher who has tenure. Second, the editorial suggests that Minnesota should consider a change that would lay teachers off based on licensure and teacher performance.

How exactly would this performance be assessed? The shortest amount of time a high school teacher could have contact with a student is 90 days (the class period varying from 47 minutes to 84, depending on the school), assuming that the student does not transfer during the semester and is never absent. This is a very short time to make an assessment of skills learned.

In some schools, many of the students entering the classroom are below grade level in reading and other academic skills, while in other schools this is very rare. How will this discrepancy be accounted for in teacher assessment? If it isn’t, the state will be condemning the most vulnerable students to an endless string of temporary, inexperienced teachers. This cannot possibly improve the conditions in those schools.

A far better solution is already available. Administrators have the tools to remove poor performing teachers in Minnesota. They just need to use them.

Mary Voigt, St. Paul



Zoning change would hurt nearby homes

No wonder no one on the Minneapolis City Council (including the new mayor) cared about the duplex that was built next door to me last year — even though it was built within an area zoned as single-family. These members of the City Council had already essentially changed the zoning law to allow second dwellings (“ ‘Granny flats’ up for debate in Mpls.,” June 16).

When a so-called “granny flat” is built next to one of their homes, perhaps they will realize that this zoning law change is not inconsequential. Rather, it is a change that raises huge livability and privacy issues, and it has a very negative impact on the property values of surrounding single-family homes.

Judith Forbes, Minneapolis