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Rancho Veal recalls

EDITOR: The U.S. Department of Agriculture attacked the Rancho Feeding Corp. animal processing plant with an army of armed agents, guns drawn. Why? More than 8 million pounds of meat, processed over a period of a year, was condemned. Not one case or claim of illness has been reported. USDA inspectors are on-site from start to finish every working day. How is it they allowed 8 million pounds of meat to go uncalled in a year? Every animal is inspected before, during and after processing.

So far, the only thing the USDA has done is shut down Rancho Feeding and destroy a 50-year-old business and the livelihood of the owners and employees.

There are also the related businesses that they supply, which will have to let employees go. This reaches beyond Sonoma and Marin counties. This is at a time the country needs more jobs.

Without the plant, ranchers have no need to raise animals.

It is time to realize big government is not doing its job in our interest and is making accusations it is unable to substantiate.

Do USDA agents check the farmer's markets? However, they closed a much-needed inspected and regulated agricultural processing plant.

PAUL A. LEWIS

Petaluma

Planet at risk

EDITOR: Media followers have no doubt heard about two recent disturbing environmental setbacks. The monarch butterfly for one is in serious decline due to human intervention, with its home winter range in Mexico down to about one acre. The second would be the drop in winter ice cover in the Arctic accelerating at a much faster pace than scientists had predicted.

A serious setback that is getting no publicity though is the rapid loss of our eastern hemlock forests. Go to Great Smokey Mountains National Park today and you will see what seems to be endless stands of this dead and dying forest. Our largest eastern species, one of the oldest and a foundation species of eastern forest, is rapidly coming to an end due to a human-introduced non-native insect.

Thanks to our ever-increasing world overpopulation, the Earth is becoming an enormous monoculture of humans to the detriment of all other free living beings. Where will this end? We are not separate from the Earth but part of it. What happens to the Earth happens to us. We are the canary in the coal mine.

GARY SCHOUEST

Santa Rosa

Sebastopol's water

EDITOR: The Feb. 5 article on Sebastopol's water conservation discussion quoted Councilman Michael Keyes' opinion that the city's well water levels are stable and his belief that "the underground reserves (are) far more abundant than are needed" ("Reserves alleviate need for strict conservation").

Sebastopol citizens are pretty confused. The state and the county say conserve, but Sebastopol says no problem?

The council took no vote on the issue, so The Press Democrat's version turned one person's part of the discussion into the sense of the whole council.

Public Works Director Rich Emig said he has no idea what might happen if the drought were to extend over more years. Other council members noted Sebastopol residents' already excellent record of water conservation but also stressed reaching out to citizens who haven't caught on to the need to conserve yet.

The article also omitted comments backed by geologic expertise and hydrologic information that Sebastopol is built on the land that collects recharge water for its wells. Developed land collects about 40 percent less water than undeveloped recharge areas.