Disconnect from rural America

Late last Thursday, we received word that the Department of Labor would withdraw its proposed rule that would essentially end family farming as we know it. This rule, which drew the ire of nearly all of rural America, would have prohibited children from working on farms unless the operations were owned solely by their parents. If grandparents, aunts or uncles were in the mix, the kids would be out of luck.

So, amid the demographic reality that America's farmers and ranchers are getting no younger, this rule would have the effect of destroying family operations. Without a new crop of farmers to replace today's who had an average age of 57.1 years in 2007 rural America would be devastated.

As anyone who has spent even a shred of time in rural America will tell you, the way our farms survive is by family teaching family. While classroom learning plays a role, there is nothing like a parent educator teaching the art and science of farming from the cab of a tractor or while walking the fields. In our family, I was the fifth generation to be the recipient of this knowledge; our hope is that my children will be the sixth.

While we celebrate the Department of Labor's decision to withdraw this misguided rule, there is still more that needs to be prevented or undone. The onslaught of new regulations from other agencies including from the EPA and CFTC presents a considerable danger to the continuity of our family farms and way of life in rural America.

The danger is that those who are writing the rules know next to nothing about what keeps us humming.

During the Landon Lecture at Kansas State University earlier this spring, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack shared two stories about how he has been "educating" top regulators in Washington about farm life.

First, he said that he took EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to a farm in Iowa, and she learned that we use GPS in tractors. "Bless her heart," he said, she had no clue farmers use technology to increase efficiency. Meanwhile, her agency is busy writing regulations that negatively influence the productivity of our farms, obviously under the presumption that we just waste our resources.

Second, Secretary Vilsack relayed a phone call he made to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to tell her just how wrong she was about the farm labor regulation. He said: "I appreciate what you're trying to do. But, what you don't understand or appreciate is that there is a values system here that you're creating a real concern about. And that values system is the ability of families to teach children about the value of hard work." Meanwhile, her cabinet-level agency's proposed rule would have undermined that values system.

It used to be that weather was the greatest unknown threatening a successful yield. Now it is uninformed, uneducated bureaucrats impressed by the use of GPS in tractors who threaten us.

TIM HUELSKAMP,

Fowler

Congressman Huelskamp represents the First District of Kansas.

Redistricting pitch flawed

I read with a great deal of interest a recent article by Mary Clarkin concerning Sen. Steve Morris casting his vote not only to eliminate our 38th Senate District, but his favorable vote to split Liberal into two senate districts as well as Dodge City into two senate districts. I might say "interest" was not the only thing that crossed my mind while reading the article.

Can you imagine a western Kansas senator voting to eliminate a entire western Kansas Senate District when there appears to be other and likely better choices, like moving a boundary line or combining a portion of another district if needed, or just leaving it alone? I also noted in the article a comment from Sen. Terry Bruce in which he stated "Love's southwest 38th District had sufficient population and did not need to have its boundaries changed in redistricting." Bruce also said "the map was 'grossly inferior' to an alternate map." However, to some, consideration of other choices may not matter so much when it comes to politics and retaining power?

Redistricting has become a huge issue in the state with dozens of maps being drawn. In my opinion, there seems to be a lot of "incumbent protective" or "let's make a deal" maps out there. In cases such as this, one might ask, did Sen. Morris vote to eliminate the 38th District in favor of Johnson County to protect or retain a position? You see, Mr. Morris is also the president of the Senate and very possibly would have not been elected to that position without a great deal of support from the east.

I do not appreciate Sen. Morris's attempt to eliminate my entire Senate District or my favorite State Senator, Garrett Love, nor do I appreciate his attempt to split my city into two districts. Thank goodness the wiser House of Representatives voted to defeat the attempt. Sen. Morris should be supporting western Kansas, not Johnson County. What say you?

JIM RICE,

Liberal

Harmful policies at every level

A list of questions that are local, state and national:

1) Whose idea was it to increase the income tax on the poorest of the people?

2) Whose idea was it to increase our sales tax and our educational tax that is going to put much more pressure on the poorest of people, as they are already in a situation where it is hard to pay? They're not able to pay for any increase.

3) Whose idea was it to allow the irrigated farmer to personally control their water usage amounts?

4) Whose idea was it to allow handguns?

5) Whose idea was it to allow concealed weapons into about any business or building?

6) Whose idea was it that would not allow all immigration reception papers to be presented to all immigrants for recognition and information collected?

7) Whose idea was it to not allow the wealthy to pay the cost of these last three wars that are still not won and may never be?

8) Whose idea was it to allow Congress to be so party controlled that this nation is now in deep do-do? This is a threat that is going to throw this nation into a rebellious mood that only the wealthy can solve. Granted, this nation can exist for a few more years like it is, but if Congress doesn't do what it takes to correct this abundance of major destructive ideas, this will continue to worsen, until it explodes.

HAROLD STARR,

Garden City

Support benefits Special Olympics

The athletes, families, coaches and staff of Special Olympics Kansas would like to extend our appreciation to the community for their support of our second annual World's Largest Truck Convoy. Forty-eight trucks, 23 motorcycles, nine law enforcement agencies and five classic cars raised more than $27,000 for our programs. Last year, I was happy to announce that Kansas held the second largest truck convoy in the nation. This year, because of the tremendous support we received from Garden City and surrounding communities, we hope to claim the title of the largest truck convoy held by a Special Olympics program. This would not be possible without our Gold event sponsors, Southwest Dairy Farmers Association, Larry Johnston, Western Transport of Garden City and the Garden City Police Department. Because of Garden City's support, we are able to provide programs which allow people with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit leaders both on and off the playing field. We are looking forward to our third annual convoy next summer. If you are interested in finding out how you can become involved with Special Olympics Kansas, please contact Kim Pianalto at (620) 417-5111.

LUKE SCHULTE,

Mission

Schulte is director of Special Events Special Olympics Kansas.

Honor Mother on her day

Mothers are the driving force in our world. Without mothers, there

are no fathers, no sons and daughters, no brothers and sisters. In 1904,

our organization, The Fraternal Order of Eagles, set out to thank these

brave, selfless women by making a public plea for a national holiday in

their honor.

A decade later, that holiday became a reality as President Woodrow

Wilson passed a law designating the second Sunday in May each year as

Mother's Day. As it is now, men, women and children everywhere spend the

early days of May picking out cards, buying flowers and wrapping gifts

to show their appreciation.

Like many of our holidays, Mother's Day gradually became less a day

of honor and remembrance and more an enterprise. In 2012, we're asking

citizens everywhere to get back to the true spirit of Mother's Day. Take

the time to give thanks and share stories. Tell the tale of how an

upstart organization used its membership to pressure national leaders

into doing the right thing and designating a day for those who gave us

life.

Explain how, in a time when women were still denied the right to

vote, Frank E. Hering, a Fraternal Order of Eagles president in 1904,

stood up and made a plea to honor our mothers and all they do to make us

who we are. Instead of buying a card, write her a letter. Instead of

buying flowers, help her plant some. Realize the best gift you can give

this year can't be purchased from a store. It can only come from within.

This year, let's close our wallets and open the history books as we

celebrate Mother's Day. After all, it's hard to know where we're going

if we don't know where we came from.

Thank you.

SUE CAMPBELL and ART GREEN,

Garden City

Campbell and Green are the presidents of the Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 3124 Post and Auxiliary in Garden City.

Great musicals grace the city

A week ago Saturday evening, Orvileta and I attended the spring

musical production, "Man of La Mancha," at the theater at the Pauline

Joyce Fine Arts Center at our community college. Those who saw the show

know I am not just blowing smoke when I say it was outstanding. Director

Phil Hoke, the cast, musicians and crew hit another home run with their

efforts. This was truly a "Garden City Production" as it included

students and community members from here and our area.

Logan Walker did a superb job with the lead role of Miguel

Cervantes/Don Quixote, including his strong rendition of the show's

signature song: The Impossible Dream. The 15-member orchestra, under the

direction of Bruce Spiller, was a delight on that familiar piece, plus

the overture and complete musical accompaniment.

Nancy Wright presented a defiant Aldonza in both her acting and

singing, especially as she became Dulcinea, the fantasy noble lady

platonic love interest of the aging, delusional Quixote.

The two lead performers were well supported by the other cast

members, including director Hoke, who added to the show with his

well-done, on-stage guitar playing. A well-designed and decorated set,

good costuming and makeup completed the mood for this great effort.

Please be on the lookout for future productions at our community college theater.

And while you're at it, don't forget the Garden City Recreation

Department spring musical, "The Goodbye Girl," this coming weekend at

the State Theatre.

Who says there's nothing to do in Garden City?

DUANE WEST,

Garden City