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Time for better communication and resource management

If it comes down to odor and a neighbor in close proximity, there are few good solutions. [MPR News: Feedlot regulation is a growing patchwork]

But agriculture needs to take a step back and look at the issues offensively, rather than defensively. Ag has a lot to offer to the consuming public - food, fuel, fiber, feed and the role of managing a large portion of the natural resources - soil, water, habitat - that will allow agriculture to continue to provide and prosper. Ironically, with all the attention the Environmental Protection Agency has given to Total Maximum Daily Loads and the role of many federal, state and local conservation agencies to address our resource concerns, there isn't really a method for a farmer to communicate to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency if they are meeting TMDL goals.

My farm operation, for example, grows corn and soybeans and some other minor crops. I use my neighbor's hog manure to provide nutrients to growing corn. As a businessman I want to continue to use the manure - it is local, renewable, and relatively inexpensive. Without it I would have to purchase some whose origins are mostly likely overseas, but definitely not local.

As a businessman and steward of the resources I also want to ensure that the application of manures meets the potential TMDLs that will be determined for the Minnesota River. So I ask the MPCA how will they know that I am meeting their goals - they mention that I should use Best Management Practices. I ask how many, and where? They say, well don't you know. Not a good communication system, not a good regulatory model.

My point: There exists management indices to describe resource outcomes based upon farm-specific circumstances. I can run a Phosphorus Index to determine the risk of phosphorus leaving my fields. I can adjust the risk by applying less phosphorus, changing cropping systems, changing tillage practices, adding BMP (yes there is a place for them).

Because the EPA has addressed point source pollution fairly well in the last three decades there is an inclination to try to use this model with non-point source pollution, although 'non-' pretty much means the opposite.

Tim Gieseke
New Ulm, Minn.

[Gieseke is a farmer and the founder and president of Ag Resource Strategies.]

How about sober walking escorts?

I am glad to see that someone finally came up with this wonderful idea and I am anxious to see it make its way to Minneapolis! [MPR News: The Sober Guy brings drunk drivers home]

I think as this business takes off, it would also be nice if "Sober Guy" offered to walk customers home, particularly those living in more populated downtown areas. On that note, I think that subjecting the employees to a criminal background check will help make people more comfortable with this idea.

Kristina Miller
Minneapolis, Minn.

Children with FAS need to believe in themselves

I looked so much like the oldest boy in the photo, Matthew, when I was that age. [MPR News Some help is there for parents and teachers, from the Fetal alcohol syndrome: The invisible disorder collection]

I was born in 1969 with what they said, at the time, were 'birth defects'. As a toddler, my eyes were widely spaced, my chin was small, my nose and face were pretty flat, and I had a smooth area between my lip and nose. My forehead was broad. Most of my childhood I was very skinny. I was diagnosed at the age of two, with what was, at the time, called 'hyperactivity' and was dosed first on Dexedrine, then Ritalin. I was also missing the dimples most have on their lower backs, I assume it had something to do with the FAS also.

Later, I was told I had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and so were people I attended school with. This was not easy for me. I had no idea what it meant, this was before the internet, in 1984 or thereabouts. The teacher told kids in the class that were making fun of me what I had and one of them teased me about it the next day. It was a surprise to me. I spent the entire class with my head down on my folded arms weeping over it. It was not the best way to find out.

What I want to say is Matthew is capable of so much if you teach him to believe in himself above all else. I have FAS and I am typing this without any help, I have actually been to college although I didn't finish because I couldn't make it through college algebra. I realize FAS has many variables. Your son might be able to make it through college, depending on how he has tested before he started school. If he made it into regular classes in grade school please give him the confidence to make it to college and the math skills to finish! He really is capable of so much! His behavior might be really terrible at times, but I have found, with myself, it has improved over time, with age. Just don't give up! I feel for your situation, the oldest son looks so much like I did we could be mistaken for brother and sister.

I just wanted to tell you not to give up on this kid, if you support him and make sure he has self-confidence he can do anything in life, just about. He can, at least, do what he wants to in life...thanks!

Victoria C.
Moore, Okla.

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