January 26, 2005 

GO bill, go!

Each week, I look forward to reading Bill Cope's latest observations but I don't recall ever re-reading one of his columns. "The Benevolent Tatership" (BW, Jan. 12) was the exception. The more I re-read, the better it got. I'm going to frame this one and keep it handy whenever I need a pick-me-up. Go Bill.

--Dick B. Miller,

Boise

Should "Farm" stay in Idaho Farm Bureau?

I am a fourth generation stockman and longtime Farm Bureau member.

The Idaho Farm Bureau has taken a strong position against the water user groups, municipalities, farmers, ranchers and all agricultural-related commodity groups on the Nez Perce water agreement currently being debated by the Idaho State Legislature.

The Nez Perce tribes, the applicable Federal Agencies, Congress, Idaho water user groups, Canal Companies, Committee of Nine, The Idaho Attorney General and Governors Office have participated in the agreement and have confirmed their support for the final agreement. The details of the agreement are far too complex for review here, but trust that all affected parties, were satisfied that the agreement was the best that could be achieved. Also, the primary goals of the Nez Perce tribes were satisfied and they agreed as well. The document was signed off by President George W. Bush after congressional approval. The United States provided the money for upgrades, projects, land expansion and reparations for the tribes.

The agreement is a monumental step forward to resolve water issues in Idaho and removes uncertainties in water rights adjudication, allocation, and management. Also, the issues of the 150-year-old Nez Perce treaty were heard, reconciled and promulgated. The agreement must be approved by the Idaho Legislature prior to March 31, 2005 or it will expire.

At the eleventh hour comes the Idaho Farm Bureau, incredibly, they issued a "position white paper" and lobby effort against the Nez Perce agreement.

The white paper cites: Three fundamental reasons for their position. It says the agreement undermines private property rights, Idaho agriculture economy and the democratic process.

These generalized statements are a slap in the face to the many intelligent people on all sides who have negotiated the detailed agreement on our behalf. In fact, the anti-Indian language and reversal of habitat improvements for Salmon spawning streams proposed by the Farm Bureau would not have gotten past the first few hours of the seven-year negotiation.

--Lloyd Hicks,

Rigby

Mad about

mad cow

The callous reaction of the USDA and the U.S. meat industry to the discovery of a third case of Canadian Mad Cow disease clearly places profits before public health.

USDA announced that the U.S. still intends to lift the suspension on imports of Canadian cattle imposed two years ago. The American Meat Institute, which finds Canadian beef more profitable than the domestic product, declared that the discovery is "no cause for concern."

Measures taken by U.S. authorities to protect public health have been grossly inadequate. Only a tiny fraction of cattle slaughtered are tested, whereas Japanese and European authorities test every animal and find many more cases. The 1997 FDA ban on feeding infected body parts to other cows has lacked adequate enforcement. During slaughter, muscle tissue used in steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs and beef fillings is sprayed with bits of brain and spinal column tissues, traditional carriers of the disease.

Folks in the beef industry should seek a more secure and socially redeeming career. For the rest of us it's not to late for a New Year's resolution to replace beef in our diet with vegetables, fruits, and grains.

--Bernard Callen,

Boise

Casualties in Context

Since your newspaper often prints the escalating casualty numbers for U.S. troops killed in Iraq you and your readers might want to take note of what is mentioned in the February issue of National Geographic. On January 30, 1945, a Soviet sub (the S-13) launched three torpedoes into an armed German transport ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, filled with refugees and wounded soldiers. As many as 9,000 died--the second largest sea tragedy ever after the sinking (also by a Soviet sub) of the Goya (6,000-7,000 dead). On February 10, 1945, the same Soviet sub that had sunk the Gustloff set its sights on the German transport Steuben. More than 4,500 wounded soldiers, refugees, medical staff and crew were killed.

For Americans who only seem to be aware of how many died during the battles in Grenada, Somalia and the Gulf War, the casualties sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan understandably do seem very large indeed. But compared to the lives that have been lost in single attacks like those listed above the current casualties need to be taken in context.

--John Pluntze,

Ketchum

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