I am writing to respond to "East End farm roundtable challenges Bishop" [News, March 19]. I think to characterize the meeting as "testy" is not accurate. Our annual "Coffee with the Congressman" is an honest exchange of ideas on public policy.

Long Island farmers are independent business owners who believe in less government, less regulation, and responsible fiscal policy regarding the federal budget. Our farmers must operate based on prudent business decisions and within their own budgets. Some believe that government should live within its means, as they have to as business owners.

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We know government has had a hard time with spending constraints, while our national debt continues to grow. The national recession has hit farming particularly hard. Costs go up every year, while prices farmers receive have remained stagnant. It's our duty and responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) is an excellent member of Congress. He has taken the time each and every spring before planting season to meet with us to discuss sometimes difficult policy matters. He is highly regarded and respected by our farm community.

Joseph M. Gergela III, Calverton

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau.