Gillibrand friend to our farmers

Recent news articles have mentioned possible candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 20th Congressional District held by Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. Much has been made about the huge sums of money being raised to contest Gillibrand's seat. In one case, most of the funds came from the candidate himself.

I would like to point out, from a farmer's point of view, some of the many accomplishments Ms. Gillibrand has made in the short time that she has been in office.

First of all, Ms. Gillibrand specifically requested an appointment to and was granted a seat on the House Agriculture Committee, thereby giving our farmers an important voice in setting our nation's farm policy. The timing of Kirsten's appointment couldn't have been more perfect, as Congress was working on the 2007 Farm Bill, which will establish farm policy for the next five years.

Ms. Gillibrand fought to improve and extend the successful MILC safety net program for dairy farmers and increased conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program by $4.3 billion.

Ms. Gillibrand sponsored two important amendments that were included in the House version of the Farm Bill.

The first directed USDA to provide loans to businesses that buy and distribute farm products within 400 miles from the farm they were produced on, thereby benefiting farmers and consumers by lowering transportation costs.

Secondly, $50 million is provided to help farmers transition from traditional to organic farming as a way to meet the increasing needs of today's consumers.

Ms. Gillibrand is committed to strengthening the agricultural sector of our New York and U.S. economies thereby ensuring that Americans have a dependable, healthy and affordable food supply for their families.

New York farmers and consumers have found a champion in Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand!

Frank Bachler

East Meredith

Bachler is a member of Congressman Gillibrand's agriculture committee. He is also a beef farmer and former town of Meredith supervisor.

Schools should offer driver's ed

I recently turned 16, and that means driving time is coming up. I think more schools should offer driver's education, including Oneonta High School. It only needs to be for a half-semester and it could help kids a lot.

I think that it is very important because many people drive and it is especially important to new drivers to know the rules of the road in depth and basic maintenance of driving and of vehicles.

It is more important than some of the other topics that we learn in school today. More people need to learn about driving earlier on to better prepare themselves. If they were more aware, then they would probably be safer on the roads. This could lead to preventing vehicle accidents, which are happening more and more today.

I know I would rather learn about driving earlier on because the more I know about it, the less nervous I will be on the road.

Lindsay Rose

Oneonta

Rose is a 10th-grader at Oneonta High School.

Look at big picture on wind

An article on wind power in the March 2 issue of Parade magazine offered your readers a largely unqualified endorsement. Yet in this part of the world, we have learned that the issues are far more nuanced.

Consider the proposed NYRI line. Successful development of this line is essential to the delivery of electricity from dozens of wind farms proposed for western and central New York. Wind-generated electricity requires new delivery infrastructure. NYRI and ancillary transmission lines are critical components of that planned system.

Further, wind variability remains troubling. During summer peak, load efficiency typically falls. At Madison and Fenner wind farms (those nearest us) efficiency drops to 12 percent and 18 percent, respectively. This puny wattage is irrelevant to local need, where cool summers put no strain on the grid. It's headed south to Long Island, where summer demand for electricity rises some 30 percent.

The truth is seasonal variability of wind-generated electricity in New York is largely out of sync with demand. General Electric Energy recently published an attempt to deal sensibly with this irony by use of the term "effective capacity." It estimates inland sites in New York average an effective capacity of only 10 percent. However, there is a dramatic exception. It's found offshore Long Island, where prevailing summer winds produce an effective capacity of 40 percent!

But the citizens of Long Island are not willing to have their beach vistas spoiled. Through aggressive action of their political representatives, they have defeated all attempts at development of offshore wind farms. Having spent many delightful years on south shore beaches, I am in full sympathy with their concern. But there is a moral quandary here. Is it now upstate's task to help preserve the beauty of the Long Island shoreline through destruction of its own landscape?

Andy Minnig

Cherry Valley

Don't privatize Social Security

On his campaign website, John McCain claims that he supports "supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts." But that is not what he recently told the Wall Street Journal. Rather than supplementing Social Security with add-on accounts that do not jeopardize benefits, McCain is now supporting President Bush's failed policy to divert Social Security revenue into private accounts.

These statements are just as alarming as President Bush's privatization scheme. The plan not only threatens benefits, but it would explode the national debt by a trillion dollars while doing nothing to address the long-term solvency of Social Security.

At a time when our economy is falling deeper and deeper into recession, we cannot gamble on benefits for seniors, the disabled and survivors.

Americans did not support it when President Bush proposed it, and they are not going to support it now.

Mary McKeon

Margaretville

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