Winter 1992 // Volume 30 // Number 4 // Commentary // 4LET1

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Diverse Cultures-CES Welcome


The Summer 1991 issue of your Journal has an interesting article by Richard Fowler on "Conflicts of Interest and the Land- Grant Mission." His article confirms to me that U.S. Extension agents have a limited knowledge of what's going on in other countries, as he doesn't discuss a number of issues, which are considered important elsewhere and might also be relevant in the USA, such as:

  1. Nowadays research workers in private companies and farmers' cooperatives often have more competence on certain problems than researchers of governmental experiment stations. Extension workers of these companies have a closer contact with some farmers and know their problems better than the staff of the official Extension Service. This requires a different relationship with private industry and farmers' cooperatives than we had when research and extension where more or less monopolies of governments and universities.

  2. Increasingly, Extension Services are expected to help to implement government polices that aren't in the short-term interest of many farmers-such as environmental policies.

  3. It would be in the interest of the world if farmers in industrialized countries became aware of the impact of export subsidies on their products, like rice in the USA and sugar in the European Community, on the livelihood and even the lives of farm families in developing countries, and on the possibilities for a recovery of Eastern European economies. However, our farmers don't like to hear this message.

  4. Through the privatization of Extension Services, many countries, such as the United Kingdom, have experience with charging farmers and companies a fee for the advice of their Extension agents and the conflicts this causes.

A. W. van den Ban
Wageningen, The Netherlands