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LETTERS for September 7 issue

By Staff | Sep 7, 2017

Back to school food

With the new school year upon us, parents turn their attention to school clothes, school supplies and school food. Yes, school food!

More than 31 million children rely on school meals for their daily nutrition, which too often consists of highly processed food laden with saturated fat. Not surprisingly, one-third of our children have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

To compound the problem, the Trump Administration has loosened Obama’s 2010 school lunch rules calling for whole grains, fat-free milk and reduced salt content. The rules had an 86 percent approval rating.

Fortunately, many U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Diego, have implemented “Meatless Monday.”

As parents, we need to involve our own children and school cafeteria managers in promoting healthy, plant-based foods in our local schools. Entering “vegan options in schools” in a search engine provides lots of useful resources.



Help people impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast are devastated. Never has an area been so blasted by so much rainfall in such a short amount of time. Houston has received more rainfall than any other city across the United States received in one entire year. So far, over 51 inches of rain has fallen with more rainfall to come. Everyone in America and much of the world with a television or computer knows about the suffering of Houston. Our prayers go out to them as well as our financial support, our manpower and anything we can do to help the millions of people who are homeless and suffering.

Experts are predicting Hurricane Harvey will cost the economy $25 billion to $30 billion because of the rain. Most of Houston is closed down due to the storm. The oil and gas industry, and thousands of jobs tied to other manufacturing such as the food service giant Sysco, are closed. The Port of Houston, several hospitals and both major airports are closed.

Essentially the fifth largest economy in the United States is at a dead stop.

The infrastructure damage to Houston will be in the billions. Reports have come from all the national media outlets on the significant number of people in Houston who do not have flood insurance. Thousands of homes will either be impossible to salvage or will cost upwards of $12 billion to $15 billion to repair, according to reports.

Oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico make up nearly half of the nation’s refining capacity. If these refineries are flooded, they will be difficult to repair; there will be extensive gasoline shortages in our country. We are already seeing prices go up at the pump, and our entire economy will be impacted.

Most likely the number of dead bodies will not be really known until days and maybe even weeks after Houstonians are into their cleanup.

Houston is hurting, and Americans are pulling together from non-profits, churches and helping hands from across America.

Once again it will be proven that the heart of America is helping each other. Americans do care about each other and want the best for our towns and our country. Media lately has been highlighting all the tension between a few groups of people and hatred displayed by these groups. The vast majority of Americans may disagree and argue quite a bit. However, while Hurricane Harvey Hurts our country, it will demonstrate once again that the majority of Americans want the very best for each other. We will pull together for Houston and the other neighboring towns. This is one reason why we are still The United States of America and the greatest country of all.



EPA seeks to step backward on clean water policy

Since President Trump issued an executive order calling for the repeal and replacement of the 2015 Clean Water Act, or Water of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule, my husband has discussed the issue with – and heard the concerns of – his fellow farmers.

As any wife would do, I shared with him the facts and premise of the rule.

The rule clearly defines which water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act, eliminating the need for a costly and time-consuming case-by-case evaluation.

The Clean Water Rule does not infringe upon property rights or regulate land use. Practices such as the discharge of agricultural storm water or return flow from irrigated agriculture do not require additional permitting or oversight of property use. A permit is only required if protected water is polluted or destroyed.

The rule maintains existing exemptions under the Clean Water Act for normal farming and ranching practices such as planting, harvesting or moving livestock.

Much to my husband’s surprise, what I shared did not align with the concerns he had heard of the rule being a land grab or overreach of power. Instead, it affirmed his daily practices of protecting the land and water that is critical not only to our livelihood, but to the water sources our neighbors rely on for drinking water, agriculture and recreation.

A formal public comment period on the reinstatement of the previous set of regulations was opened on July 27 and will remain open through Sept. 27, 2017 – 30 days longer than originally published. During this period, the Environmental Protection Agency is only seeking comments as to whether the regulation in place before the 2015 Clean Water Rule should be recodified.

A second phase of the rulemaking process will encompass efforts to redefine the waters of the U.S. and will include an accompanying comment period.

The guidelines and definitions under the 2015 Clean Water Rule provide clarity for farmers and ranchers while protecting vital water resources. I will submit a comment asking the Environmental Protection Agency to not take a step backward and wipe away the Clean Water Rule. We encourage you to do the same.

Visit cfra.org/water for more information.

JORDAN RASMUSSEN, Center for Rural Affairs