Having read your excellent article "How to Save Rural France," there is one remark that I disagree with [Aug. 2]. I fully expect bio-agriculture to grow to more than 3% of the total French agricultural sector. Organic-food sales in France have been growing 20% or more year on year for the past five years, and the Chinese middle class has discovered organic food. This will result in more domestic demand in China, which will cause Chinese exports of organic food to dry up. In turn, Europe will need to find somewhere to grow organic food, and France will surely be a popular choice. Even expectations of a 10% to 15% share for organic agriculture on arable land could turn out to be pessimistic.
Maarten Molenaar, VEENENDAAL, THE NETHERLANDS
The reason only 20% of French farms have diversified their activities is quite simple: the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, which comes from the largesse of German and British taxpayers. If the French people are so attached to their rural and agricultural heritage, then let them pay for it.
Julian Dow, SYMINGTON, SCOTLAND
TIME's story on French farming sounded very familiar in fact, it could have been written about the English side of the Channel. The problem is that big players in food processing and sales are exploiting the farmers' Achilles heel: the fact that our businesses are also our homes, and if we stay on the farm the food products will continue to be produced. If the financial return is not enough to pay the bills, farmers still try to make ends meet by whatever means, thereby subsidizing food production while those next in the chain make huge profits. It is a situation that keeps governments happy as high profits mean big tax bills. But what if the younger generation doesn't want to work long hours for low pay? Certain foods may dry up, and if the processors decide to buy abroad they may take their factories there along with huge numbers of jobs.
Anthony White, HEXHAM, ENGLAND
Land of the Setting Sun?
Re "A Clouded Outlook" [Aug. 2]: Japan's economy has been in disarray because the old bureaucracy still restricts people's activities. Governments have changed intermittently, and their economic policies have been ineffective. We need long-term measures to fix the economy sustainably in a changing world. Japan already has high levels of competency. If we just believe in ourselves, we can make a united effort.
Yasuhito Sakamoto, YAMATO, JAPAN
Michael Schuman's article rightly points out many of Japan's problems. Though I'm proud of my country's social unity, how that unity is kept is a major cause of the problems facing Japan now. The desire to be quiet stifles debates that are needed to bring about feasible changes. We need a big change in how students study in schools, moving from the situation in which they just listen to teachers to one in which they interact, telling each other their opinions. Good education is the basis for both politics and the economy functioning well.
Daiki Kuroda, OSAKA, JAPAN
Beyond the Beltway
If Joe Klein believes things are really not so dire in the Democratic camp, he must be spending all his time in New York City or inside the Beltway, places where folks tend to political delusions [Apocalypse Not, Aug. 2]. Klein supports another stimulus package and cites a Republican smear campaign? Really? He is not objective.
Colonel Colin McArthur, U.S. Army (ret.), ST. HELENA ISLAND, S.C., U.S.