Quake teaches trade lesson

The recent Japanese earthquake and meltdown told us we are buying dairy products from Japan. The same tariff system is in use for everything we import or export.

Some of the negotiators represent the best interests of the United States, and some evidently think they are representing the best interests of the entire world. One can wonder at how they get qualified to know that much, who selects them and who pays them.

In past years, dairying was urged to greatly expand to meet the needs of all the hungry of the world, at other times we have been told we should shut down and let things be produced most cheaply, and work their way here. Such mixed signals are the last thing productive enterprise can stand.

We have reason to believe the same thought processes are behind other things we export, like jobs and industries. If we feel sorry for Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, we import from them. But what happens in case of war or radiation meltdown, when importation is not possible? Sustainability, anyone?

R.W. Robinson

Sequim, Wash.

Farmers must exist within nature

The farm is the most ancient form of industry known to man. Farming's history holds within it the origins of human civilization. Since the beginning of agriculture we have struggled to maintain stability and growth to match society's expansion. Through time, experience and experimentation we've been shown the complicated and intimate connectivity of the web of life and how to bend its will to produce for our benefit.

The practices of farmers have always impacted their neighbors, whether it be a residential community, public lands, timber lands, the frontier or other farmers. The success of all these interests depends wholly on cooperation and not at all on competition. Those of us who participate in agriculture and other land-use professions have to realize that we take within our lands the natural environments where fellow animals eke out their existence in the only way they know how.

It is shameful to practice complete elimination of predatory species. The fact is, as we assume control of these lands we often improve their attraction to livestock and other easily accessible food sources. A certain amount of loss on our end should be acceptable and expected.

We have chosen to depend on modern technologies' gadgets to ease the burden of our labor and minimize the human presence on the farm, which, combined with our tendency to overstock pasture, creates a perfect combination for predator activity. Predatory animals are creatures of opportunity, eager to take advantage of a scenario that provides immediate results with minimal input and little concern for the future. It is our responsibility to balance the complicated issues of wilderness and wildlife management with the cooperation of all sides involved.

The lack of understanding between agriculture and the public can only be blamed on us, the producers, for losing contact with our customer base and depending on outside entities -- government, manufacturers, distributors, corporations -- to keep the public educated about the processes that keep them fed and healthy.

Humanity's numbers have grown to proportions that no longer allow frivolous management practices dominated by profit and quick-fix, short-sighted solutions. We have a responsibility to all life on this planet simply to ensure our own continued participation.

When we allow poor management practices to abuse our wildlands we are left with the inevitable results of disease and infestation, which by their nature will spread.

The health of wilderness depends on the presence of predatory species within that wilderness, not just a visitor to it. As the so-called most advanced species on this planet we should take a lesson from the "lesser" creatures and nature as a whole and learn to play our role within the boundaries of natural law.

R.F. West

Naples, Idaho

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