The article about marketing through Cargill's program was very good. (See “Leave Marketing To The Experts,” Mid-February issue, page 34.)

But I want to discuss the farmer around whom the article centers. It seems to me that Ted Medlin must have some pretty poor soil, since he needs 9,000 acres to survive.

Why is there so much greed in American agriculture these days? No wonder the average producer has a hard time surviving. Smaller producers have the same marketing tools, but no one ever writes about them.

Why do most farm publications center around huge farmers all the time? The average-sized producer, with 400-500 acres, never has any articles written about him. Most producers I know, with 400- to 500-acre farms, do a far better job of producing crops than the huge guys who are always trying to impress their neighbors. They're always the last to get done with things, and most of the time aren't very timely with planting and harvesting. They're the ones who have visible soil compaction strips across their fields every year, because they go into fields too early just to get it all planted.

Have they ever considered that, if they produced better yields, they wouldn't have to farm half the county? There isn't one large farmer I know who can produce the same yields per acre as the average-sized farmer in our county. Why not give those young guys a chance to farm, too? The average age of U.S. farmers is over 50. Who's going to farm these acres once these farmers are gone — the huge companies?

Our local Cargill elevator caters to large producers — those who have the semi-trucks, etc. Seems like the elevator always pays those producers more per bushel than the average-sized producer. I've seen cases where one larger producer received as much as 10¢/bu more for his corn than a neighboring farmer who sold the same day.

I think you have one of the greatest magazines written today, but let's be fair to all-sized farmers.
Rodney Hess
Kimball, MN

Biotech Crops Benefit Butterflies

I was disappointed to read the subject letter in the February issue of Soybean Digest (see “Save Butterflies,” page 7), because it appeared to be from a farmer instead of someone who grew up in a city.

Most farmers' common sense tells them that the reduction in spraying of chemical insecticides enabled by biotech crops (e.g., Bt corn, Bt cotton) had to save a lot more Monarch butterflies than even worst-case scenarios for the “research” about Bt corn pollen falling onto milkweed plants.

Among other things, if the wind is strong enough to move corn pollen out of a cornfield, it's likely to be whipping the milkweed plants around too much for the pollen to stick to their leaves.

In addition to that piece of common sense, a recent news article reported that the Monarch butterfly population increased during 1999 — the year of the highest-ever Bt corn plantings in America.
Kim Nill
American Soybean Association