The June 25 commentary by Bonnie Blodgett connecting agriculture and climate change was eye-opening and encouraging. However, sequestering carbon in soil by shifting to cover crops and no-till practices are not only embraced by organic farmers in Vermont, but were both mentioned by Monsanto’s director of government affairs in the first few minutes of her talk at a recent climate conference.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby national conference in Washington, D.C., hosted 1,200 volunteers, and climate-change solutions were discussed by a variety of sectors. The Monsanto spokeswoman was part of a panel of corporate voices that included a vice president of Exxon Mobil explaining why the business community is so keen on a market-based plan to price carbon.

Using market forces — rather than a regulatory approach — the carbon-fee-and-dividend solution being discussed, moves the economy away from fossil fuels faster and with more impressive results, as detailed in an independent economic modeling study. The revenue-neutral plan appeals to a growing number of conservative leaders who like its win-win goals of job creation and lowering CO2 simultaneously, while honoring their pledge not to grow government.

Regenerative farming is just one of many strategies being adopted as the fossil-fuel industry, automobile companies, the Armed Forces and even agriculture-based corporations like Monsanto shift to low-carbon practices — because they recognize that a warming climate isn’t just bad for our health, it’s bad for business.

Suzannah Y. Ciernia, Northfield

• • •

As a retired University of Minnesota Extension educator, I am tired of being blamed for so-called soil degradation (robbing the land of its ecosystem). In her June 25 commentary, Blodgett says this happens because people unwittingly follow the advice of university extension services. She also adds the “farm bureau” as a culprit. Really? To my knowledge, the Farm Bureau has not had anything to do with sponsoring extension service work since the early 1930s. Blodgett goes on to try to link the early death of a Vermont woman at age 56 to the use of pesticides — a typical criticism of conventional farming methods that has little evidence to back it up.

I have personally taught many mandatory Pesticide Applicator Safety Training classes to farmers to protect both the applicator and the environment. Another whipping boy in Blodgett’s article is the use of commercial fertilizers. Instead of degrading the soil health, they actually add to it by furnishing nitrogen for soil organisms that break down the increased crop residue that the nitrogen also helped to produce. Basic soil chemistry says that a plant can’t tell the difference between a nitrate ion (the form that the plant can absorb for growth) from commercial fertilizer or one released from decaying organic matter.

And then drain tile, for some reason, also gets unfairly blamed. Research has shown that tile helps plants make maximum use of available water. Ask farmers, and they will tell you land must be tiled or yields suffer and they waste time and money when tractors and equipment get stuck. The Extension Service continues to work closely with local soil and water conservation districts and the National Resource Conservation Service on educational and cost-sharing programs to maintain the soil ecosystem through such conservation practices as no-till, strip till, cover crops, precision nutrient and pesticide management, buffers and drainage systems. Soil regeneration is at work in commercial agriculture through these practices, and we are feeding the masses, something that can’t be accomplished going back to the labor-intensive methods with a “plow and a sow and a cow” agriculture.

Roger Wilkowske, Faribault, Minn.


‘Bipartisan?’ Well, who’s making it about ‘reproductive rights?’

I noted with interest the headline to Lori Sturdevant’s June 25 column (“Can feminism’s goals once again be bipartisan?”). Not being a woman, but married to one and raising three more, I feel a natural pull toward raising the economic and social position of women.

Alas, the disappointment was not long in coming, as Sturdevant wasted no time establishing the advocacy of “reproductive rights” as the sine qua non of a bipartisan feminism before the column even reached the jump. This equation reveals two discouraging errors. First, it cheats feminism of its profound roots in the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the quality of the sexes, replacing that noble concept with a narrow focus on the controversial question of abortion rights. Second, Sturdevant writes with a startling blind spot that is roughly the size of the 40 percent of women who identify as prolife and/or feel that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.

A back-of-the-napkin calculation based on that percentage reveals there to be some 1 million prolife women in Minnesota whose existence Sturdevant ignores, thus ensuring that the return of a bipartisan feminism will never come about, at least so long as her narrow and historically inaccurate definition of feminism holds sway. Can feminism’s goals once again be bipartisan? I imagine there might be a million women Sturdevant could ask.

Brian Estrada, Minnetonka


Levy-Pounds’ ideas evaluated: A vote against, a vote in favor

Nekima Levy-Pounds makes a lot of irrational assertions about the Jeronimo Yanez verdict, which are disappointing coming from a mayoral candidate, let alone an attorney (“After the Yanez verdict: Preventing further injustices,” June 25).

She argues for sweeping reform of our criminal-justice system based only on her premise that the acquittal of Yanez was a “gross injustice,” which she submits as Exhibit A that the system is broken. This raises the question: What evidence did Levy-Pounds have access to that the judge, lawyers and jurors in the case didn’t, which would back such a bold allegation that they all reached the wrong verdict? Or is she just putting all her trust in her gut? She should know better than most that it is only facts — not feelings — that count in legal settings.

And how would having liability insurance have changed the officer’s split-second decision to shoot instead of risk being shot? Knowing one has insurance to cover one’s actions would make a person more freewheeling, if anything. So that suggestion is completely nonsensical.

No sane person has ever argued that Philando Castile deserved to die as a result of that tragic, fateful traffic stop. Clearly he didn’t. But it doesn’t logically follow that officer Yanez deserved to be punished for it, either. If I understand the verdict correctly, the jury found that Yanez had good reason to fear for his life and acted reasonably for a trained officer under the circumstances.

Even if Yanez had been found guilty, all the flaws in the justice system Levy-Pounds decries would presumably still exist, but according to her logic (or absence thereof), she probably wouldn’t have found reason then to complain.

Brad Johnson, Miami Beach, Fla.

• • •

My first reaction, after reading Levy-Pounds’ commentary about where to go from Yanez/Castile, was to think: What’s the big deal? What she says is just common sense.

But slowly I began to realize how truly rare it is to see or hear common sense on the Star Tribune opinion pages, or anywhere else in the Star Tribune, or through any other media outlet in the Twin Cities, including Minnesota Public Radio.

I’ve never met Levy-Pounds, but it is clear to me that she is an asset to our community.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis