Food Program Deserves Support
In response to "Too Many Hungry People" (Letters, June 28, 2012), we wholeheartedly concur with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and applaud Sens. Kerry and Brown in voting down harmful amendments to our nation's most important anti-hunger program. For four decades in our country, one of the federal government programs that has continuously received strong and consistent bipartisan support and was deemed "a government reform that worked" by the National Journal is SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (formerly known as "food stamps").
However, we also share the Food Bank's concern that the Senate body abandoned this historic bipartisan support in adopting a $4.5 billion SNAP benefits cut in the final version of the Senate Farm Bill. There is no question that this cut, if implemented, will have a severe and harmful impact on thousands of Massachusetts residents.
In the Commonwealth, preventing hunger is not a partisan issue, and our Massachusetts Congressional delegation should be applauded and encouraged to continue to fight against cuts to SNAP. They understand that in today's economic climate, SNAP is more important than ever. They understand that SNAP reaches key vulnerable populations: three-quarters of participants are in families with children and one-quarter are senior citizens or people with disabilities. In the richest nation in the world, no one—no child living in a struggling family trying to make ends meet, no senior or disabled citizen living on a fixed income—should go to bed hungry.
We are also fortunate that our federal delegation recognizes that, in addition to the obvious importance of SNAP in fighting hunger and lifting people out of poverty, this program bolsters local economies. Estimates issued by Moody's Analytics and others of the economic growth impact of SNAP during an economic downturn range from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of SNAP benefits. Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all the spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.
SNAP is an effective program that responds to the economic uncertainties triggered by a weakened economy, lifts people out of poverty, encourages economic growth, and creates jobs. It should be supported. The Massachusetts Congressional Delegation should hold strong and fight against any and all cuts to anti-hunger programs.
Georgia Katsoulomitis, Executive Director
Patricia Baker, Senior Policy Analyst
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
Quabbin Logging Debate Continues
The writer from Stony Lane Farm in Petersham (Letters, May 3 and June 7, 2012) noted that there may indeed be "good reasons for the carefully monitored harvest of trees," but my concern is that the activities of logging at Quabbin do not fit those reasons. When the forest management program is reduced to "strategic cutting," and thereafter to clear-cuts, I, too, worry about the health of the Commonwealth's forests and surrounding forests.
I agree that the Valley Advocate should dedicate significant investigative reporting to forestry practices at Quabbin. I would add that there has been severe clear-cutting at Wachusett Reservoir as well. Maybe the Worcester Telegram and Gazette can be induced to do investigative reporting there.
We should take note of the competing claims, first from Environment Massachusetts that clear-cutting is a serious threat to the water quality at Quabbin, and then from the loggers that a cessation in clear-cutting is a threat to water quality at Quabbin. What does the scientific evidence say? What are the results for agencies in other states with responsibilities to protect water supplies? If indeed there are problems and deficiencies, these should be identified and corrected. The Department of Conservation and Recreation, through its Division of Water Supply Protection, did find problems in the Quabbin patch cutting. But the agency took punitive action against low-level officials, not against policymakers.
By contrast, the certification review by the Forest Stewardship Council in its review of DCR forestry performance found the quality of DCR's forestry program seriously lacking, especially in the Savoy and October Mountain state forests. In its appeal, DCR relied heavily on the DWSP officials to defend its performance, but FSC refused to reverse its finding. I understand that today DCR is still without the FSC certification that it had sought.
I, too, deplore any use of personal vitriol in debate. As a result of my earlier post to the Advocate, I was forced to listen to a state official yelling at me over the phone for five minutes. Any such bullying actions are inappropriate for either side in the logging debate and should be opposed by all involved in the debate. I will continue to oppose any bullying tactics about logging, as well as the clear-cutting which has occurred on Water Supply Protection lands.
I appreciate the role that the Advocate has assumed in this discussion, of having thoughtful comments spaced out over time to simulate an electronic debate. There is no need for a flurry of instant response, and each side can take the time to prepare a reflective response.
Stephen H. Kaiser
What a careful, thoughtful, soulful piece of writing about a great book, and an important issue, Tom Vannah ["Where are the Fish?", June 21, 2012]. Thank you for bringing your attention to bear upon Rigney's book and the idea that the sea and its creatures must be regarded with respect and awareness, rather than unbridled greed or even contempt. It's clear from your article, and his book, that what's at stake is far more than any of us should justify losing: the balance of the ocean world itself, the few remaining giants, the worlds they preside over, the livelihoods of many, not to mention whole cultures, as well as the sense of wonder the fish and their environment inspire in those lucky enough to encounter them, as Rigney was. I'm reading this remarkable book myself at the moment and you've done it justice here. Excellent article. Thank you for bringing all of this to a wider audience.