Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Farm bill fatally flawed

To the editor:

Agriculture bankers are expressing growing concern about the impact of depressed commodity prices on their farm and ranch borrowers. Responding to a survey 78 percent of South Dakota's agriculture lenders say conditions have deteriorated during the past year. The survey also shows that 19 percent of borrowers are behind on real estate payments and 39 percent have fallen behind of repayment of operating loans.

In fact there is hardly a single commodity grown in South Dakota that will return a profit to producers. It should come as no surprise to anyone � including optimists in state government � that family farmers and ranchers are experiencing anger and/or depression during a time of year when spirits are usually high. Some farmers are actually hoping for excessive rainfall. Their only opportunity to survive may be in collecting prevented planting payments.

Excellent crops certainly played a role in keeping producers afloat last year, but there is also no question that percentages of farmers in arrears on real estate and operating loans would be even higher had Congress and the Administration failed to adopt a $7 billion emergency farm relief package last October.

The current economic depression runs across the length and breadth of rural America. There could be no more potent argument for decisive federal action to halt and reverse the concentration in agricultural markets that is strangling farmers and ranchers.

It is also essential that Congress understand that the 1996 farm bill was and is fatally flawed and needs to be replaced at the earliest possible date. Whatever positive features exist in current legislation should be incorporated into a new national farm and food policy that gives family farmers and ranchers an opportunity to receive a decent return on their labor and investment.

Dennis Wiese, president

South Dakota Farmers Union

Does city have storm procedure?

To the editor:

There is a question I need an answer to that possibly could save a few lives. As a matter of fact, there are a couple of questions that I need an answer to.

1. The other night when the tornado siren went off, why was the Baptist church not listed as a storm shelter open for safety on the radio? I know the pastor went down and opened up, but not once was it mentioned. That could have saved a few lives if that tornado had touched down.

2. Why was the National Guard Armory not opened up? If that tornado would have touched down there were at least 30 to 40 people that could have perished because no one came to open it. Vermillion's finest was called and asked if they were going to open it up. They said, "yes, someone would be there in three minutes." Needless to say no one came for at least 30 minutes. During this time there was someone inside and the doors were never unlocked. Why? Are our lives that meaningless? After the watch I made several phone calls to get an answer to why. This is how it went:

I called the City of Vermillion. The girl on the other end of the phone said to call the communications director, or to call the fire department or the parks director in the morning.

I called the fire department. There was no answer. What if it had been a fire? Oh yes, I know, call the PD.

I called the parks director. He told me that the police department, the civil defense, or the fire department was supposed to open it up. He also stated that he would rather go to his basement than go out into the storm.

I called the police department, they said the fire chief was supposed to open the armory. By this time, I am really wondering if the city's officials have a storm procedure set up or if they just do not care?

I called the fire chief this morning and he said the watch went from a watch to a warning too fast for them to respond. Now, don't they have a radar or other outside communications at the fire station for this, and weren't they already at the fire station for a meeting? Why didn't they answer the phone?

The reason I am writing this is because I would like an answer to my questions, rather than passing the blame. I would like to know if my life, and the lives of 30 to 40 other citizens are that meaningless that you can watch the winds take them into eternity?

Cortney Wolter

Vermillion

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