As large corporate meatpacking plants close across the nation (“JBS to shutter key pork facility,” April 21), the pandemic exposes deep cracks in the nation’s monopolistic meat supply. Allowing a handful of multinational corporations to control the meat supply impairs the public safety during our hour of need. The combination — monopolistic control and sick laborers — does not work well to ensure production and public safety.

During his 90-year lifetime, my father farmed in southern Minnesota. He watched as multinational corporations forced independent farmers off the land, replaced by industrial-sized factory farms. As 11 swine factory farms circled our farm within a 3-mile radius, my father frequently proclaimed that “small farmers will feed this country when it gets into trouble.” My father was right. The country is in trouble and small farmers are feeding this country — not multinational corporations.

As America slowly emerges from this crisis, we must re-examine the sick dependency upon corporate titans to feed America and rely, once again, upon small farmers to feed America.

Sonja Trom Eayrs, Maple Grove

This letter is written on behalf of Dodge County Concerned Citizens.

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COVID-19 is the storm of our era, without a doubt. But as the proverb goes, it’s an ill wind that blows no good. While sheltering from the storm here at home, my family has enjoyed simple and memorable meals around the table. Without commutes, practices, concerts and obligations we’ve had a chance to linger over meals and explore new recipes.

This pandemic wind also seems to be blowing an increased awareness of the fragility of our food system (“COVID-19’s next course: Our food system?” Opinion Exchange, April 21). With confidence, the author says, “Our food supply is now at risk.” Actually, our food system has been at risk and is now fracturing at its many weak points: those many places where food workers’ health and integrity are sacrificed in the name of cheap and convenient foods.

If these slower, more anxious days have renewed your focus on good food, spare a thought for the person who liberated your boneless, skinless chicken breast from its skeleton or stooped to pick your strawberries. Please visit to discover local farmers and farmers markets. Now is a great time to make sure that 100% of your food dollar goes into the pocket of the farmers who grow, pick and sell your food with safety and integrity.

Kirsten Bansen Weigle, St. Michael, Minn.


We need them more than ever

As we all have witnessed during these turbulent times, the heroes of our society are the front-line workers who care for us, for our food sources and for our infrastructure that makes assistance possible. For those of us who are aging and vulnerable, the young people who make these commitments are likely to save us now and into our future.

More than 800,000 of these helpers today are recipients of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Some 29,000 of them are employed in health care today.

We now see them every day in broadcasts of people who make a difference — often risking their lives to serve us and to serve our country.

While they take care of us, many DACA recipients live in fear that their own lives are in peril if the program is overturned. Over the past several years a number of attempts to protect their rights have failed.

Never has there been a time when we more desperately needed a path to full citizenship. We must all do what we can to ensure that this happens.

Dianne Bartels, Woodbury


Love, not heartlessness, motivates

I have an 82-year-old mother and it’s possible to love her and want to see these restrictions end. In today’s world, if you want to see businesses reopen, people act like you don’t care about the elderly. You can want both things. My father died last year after 60 years of marriage, and my mother is all alone. With these restrictions in place, she is isolated and incredibly lonely. Waiting until we have a vaccine available isn’t feasible. If she can’t see her children and grandkids, she has no reason to live. Therein lies the problem.

The people who want the lockdown over aren’t cold, money-hungry or selfish individuals. We are intelligent enough to read the studies that show the updated mortality rate and see that every chart the governor has shown has been vastly overdone. He told us our goal was to flatten the curve and keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. They are laying doctors and nurses off, so I would say they are underwhelmed. Whether we open businesses in May or August, when we go back to work there is going to be an increase of cases. So why not just rip the Band-Aid off now before there are no businesses to reopen? The only hope for my mother, and many other elderly people, is for the less vulnerable people to get infected and build immunity. There is no guarantee that there is a vaccine in the future, but we can guarantee that the results of this lockdown will be catastrophic.

Jeff Schneider, Otsego, Minn.


Trump and Obama don’t compare

On April 22, William Beyer’s piece compared proverbial oranges to proverbial apples (“Obama’s war on media was more harmful”). One word of Beyer’s, the self-damning “classified,” is all we need to pay attention to. The Obama administration did indeed take steps against people accused of leaking legally classified information. By contrast, President Donald Trump and his associates simply take steps against anyone in the press who asks tough questions or dares to point out falsehoods and inconsistencies. Beyer made a totally false comparison. I hope readers can perceive the obvious.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park


Some comparative math will do

We have an elegant and easy solution to the controversy surrounding state Sen. Scott Jensen’s questioning of guidelines for attributing deaths to COVID-19 (“Death toll remarks fuel fringe theories,” April 21). It is the same method used by Daniel Defoe in his “A Journal of the Plague Year”: Count the dead from all causes in every county week by week and month by month and compare them to the same mortality rate from the year before.

According to the excellent Minnesota Department of Health website, Minnesota’s mortality rates have been remarkably static from the years 2013-2018. Other states have similar information. Since we don’t have a reliable federal testing system, this might be the place to start in understanding the true impact of the virus nationally as well.

Richard A. Young, Minneapolis


A bright spot in my quarantine

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I so appreciate opening my paper each day to see Steve Sack’s provocative, intelligent and creative cartoon. He says just what I would like to express were I artistic and clever enough to do so. He makes staying isolated at home a little easier.

Rebecca Strandlund, Edina

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