Agriculture research faces cuts
February 23, 2005
Bangor Daily News
Feb. 23, 2005
In response to: "Agriculture research faces cuts"
written by Sharon Kiley Mack

To the Editor:

President Bush's new agriculture budget (BDN, Feb. 21) is a nationwide assault on the agricultural infrastructure of our country. It is an insult to hard-working family farms, and it is a serious blow to our homeland security.

Conventional wisdom for generations has been that a nation that cannot feed itself will not long survive. This Republican budget clearly demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the importance of a stable, productive family-owned and operated, widely-dispersed food production system within our nation's borders.

Senator Olympia Snowe told your reporter her office was "assessing" the situation. For her not to immediately and intuitively understand the damage this will do to America indicates that she is seriously out of touch with the needs of both her state and her country.

This budget strikes at the very fiber of academic research designed to strengthen the small family farm. In Maine, agricultural research facilities across the state would close -- all five experimental farms, the university forest, the animal diagnostic lab, and more.

But that's not all. With cuts to or outright elimination of grant programs that help farmers control erosion, build manure pits, and make energy-efficient changes, this budget would severely impact critical water quality and soil conservation programs.

As a commercial organic farmer for nearly two decades in Maine, I have benefited from several of these programs coming under the knife. I can personally attest to their importance in the success of a small farm operation. These cuts are irresponsible and totally unacceptable.

But there's one final outrage in this budget proposal. It out-sources American farm jobs. It diverts $300 million in our foreign aid tax dollars to buy food not from our own U.S. farmers, but from those overseas.

First George W. Bush destroys programs that help American farmers produce, then he directs his government agencies to take their food business elsewhere.

What are the Republicans thinking?