Farmers need fans, and public understanding

American farmers are looking for all the support that they can get. A good place to start would be more fans.

What farmers want their fans to understand is what it takes to make the food they consume. For too long the answer to the question "where does milk come from?" has been "the grocery store."

The real answer is that milk is produced by herds of dairy cows managed by farmers using a package of science-based tools to maintain per-cow production in a humane manner.

Two words -- science-based and package -- are relatively new to American agriculture, and farmers would like fans to pay attention.

The dairy production package includes cow genetics, feed nutrition and production, disease and insect control, housing, milking equipment, milking equipment management, and staff training. No doubt dairymen can name some more.

All of these parts have to be put together by farmers in just the right way to get maximum output. When one part goes wrong, everything else can be impacted.

This is true for every category of farm production, whether beef, pork, or fruits and vegetables.

So when one of the package elements is labeled as bad by activists, everything else needs attention.

It's this approach by activists that has prompted farm groups to seek evaluations on the basis of the science, not emotionalism. An example is Atrazine, an often-criticized herbicide used to control weeds, that has been around for 50 years. Recently another review was started. Just how much scientific review is needed?

Farmers stand ready, willing and able to talk about production practices and the science behind what they do.

Just ask them!


Wildlife protection

Light sentences here hurt efforts in Laos

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle allows illegal wildlife trading to continue in Minnesota through the lenient sentencing of Seng Her, a St. Paul woman who escapes punishment ("Endangered-species smuggler avoids prison," June 25). Her admitted to importing threatened and endangered species, in particular pieces of elephant, into the United States on multiple occasions in 2005 and 2007 from Laos.

How is it possible that a federal judge could be so benign on such a serious case?

It's cases like this that ultimately contribute to the extinction of endangered species.

The United States government and international conservation organizations are spending millions of taxpayer dollars to support increased enforcement and forums for change, yet we see case after case within America ending with but a slap on the wrist.

On June 5, World Environment Day, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton boasted about the government's efforts to strengthen partnerships such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network.

But if we can't even get it right in America, how can we think about getting it right in countries with much less transparent judiciary systems than our own?

The superior efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. customs agents in apprehending perpetrators are being diminished by the poor performance of the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

As I write today, there is elephant skin being sold in the Hmong market in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.

It is tough to motivate Lao officials when the U.S. sentence for intentionally buying and selling elephant skin in Minnesota holds but a 300-hour community-service penalty.



We can swap for spies, so why not for hikers?

Why is it that we can have a quick exchange of Russian spies, as detailed in "10 Russian spies freed in swap" (July 9), but can't release or find a way to get our three kids, including a native Minnesotan, out of an Iranian prison?

It's time to get out our yellow ribbons and tie them around trees.

ROGER DUbois, Minneapolis


So this is why the rest of the world goes crazy

I must say that I finally understand the world's love of soccer. I will admit that the final match was a bit of a yawner and a disappointment, but the matches and the drama and the quality of play before the final match were simply as good as sport gets.

I have watched the World Cup in years past with interest, but never with the attention that I was willing to give it this year.

And, wow, was I rewarded for my attention.

It is kind of funny for me to admit this, but there was a sadness with me for the final week of the tournament because I knew I was going to have to wait another four years to watch this singular event again.

The connection I felt with other human beings across the world going nuts for their respective teams was real and quite moving for me. The United States' run was dramatic and exciting, and the amazing skill and endurance of these players consistently amazed me.

Cheers to South Africa and ESPN, whose coverage with foreign analysts was fantastic.

I cannot wait for 2014, when Brazil hosts the next World Cup.


Lebron James

He should have chosen D.C. instead of Miami

Enough about LeBron James already!

The guy is just watching out for himself and his own interests. Cut him some slack: He probably learned this behavior from our politicians in Washington.