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Vermont reaps benefits of new Farm Bill, Senate vote is Thursday

first_imgLeahy Ensures That VermontIs A Big Winner In New Farm Bill –Major Boosts For State’s Dairy,Organic,Anti-Hunger And Lake Champlain Priorities ORGANICSAs the father of the national organic standards andlabeling program and author of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act, SenatorLeahy remains organic agriculture’s leading champion and has again madethe further development of organic agriculture a top priority in the FarmBill.  Vermont has taken a strong leadership role in transiting to organicagriculture and now leads in the nation on a per capita basis in organic farmconversions – now with more than 500 organic operations; more than 200are dairies.  In Vermont and elsewhere across the country, organic agriculturealso is beginning to create major new export opportunities for U.S. farmproducts.    Organic Certification Cost Share – The 2008 Farm Bill provides $22 million in guaranteed funding for a national organic certification cost share program to assist producers of agricultural products in obtaining certification under the National Organic Program established by Leahy under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.  Each producer will be eligible for a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the costs of certification, not to exceed $750 annually.  Last year Vermont producers received $165,000 under this Leahy-led effort to assist organic certification. VermontHighlights2008 Farm BillMay 14, 2008Renewal & Expansion Of MILCProgram;More Funds For Lake Champlain Cleanup;Expanded Help For Vermont’s Anti-Hunger Efforts;Another Big Boost For Vermont’s Organic Sector DAIRY FarmlandProtection Program (FPP) — The highly successful and popularFarmland Protection Program was created by Senator Leahy in the 1996 Farm Billand grew out of Vermont’s “Farms for the Future” program. Preserving Vermont’s agricultural lands helps to combat urban sprawl andkeep Vermont farms viable.  Funding for FPP will be increased by more than$700 million over the life of the Farm Bill, allowing FPP to provide matchingfunds to help purchase development rights to keep productive Vermont farmsin agricultural uses.  Total FPP enrollment in Vermont since inception ofthe program is 50,000 acres. “First and foremost,” Leahy said, “this bill makes adramatic improvement in the MILC program that will better help Vermont’sdairy producers compete for a fair price.  By adding the feed costadjuster, the MILC program target price will help keep pace with skyrocketingproduction costs.  And increasing the payment rate and eligible productionwill be essential when the price of milk drops.  These improvements willhelp ensure that dairying remains a vital part of Vermont’s economy andVermont’s heritage.”  Leahy led the MILC negotiations on theAgriculture Committee, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch(D-Vt.) worked outside the committee to build support for the plan. Organic Conversion Assistance — The 2008 Farm Bill will expand eligibility of the Environmental Qualities Incentives Program (EQIP – see above) to directly assist producers by defraying the substantial costs of implementing conservation practices when transiting to organic production.  During the required three-year conversion process, producers – especially smaller farms — often struggle to complete the conversion to organic production.  This new initiative will offer producers up to $20,000 per year for up to four years of financial assistance to help in the conversion to organic production.    Organic Data Collection — The Farm Bill will provide $5 million in mandatory funds to ensure that data on the production and marketing of organic agricultural products is included in USDA’s collection of data about agricultural production and marketing.  This mandate and these funds are vital in establishing adequate crop insurance coverage for organic crops in the future.Organic Research — The Farm Bill makes a major commitment for the first time to funding research in organic agriculture.  The bill provides $78 million in new mandatory funds for organic agriculture research and extension, to enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market organic food, feed and fiber.Organic Crop Insurance Reform – The bill will bar USDA from charging unnecessary and unwarranted premium surcharges on organic crop insurance policies. NUTRITIONThe nutrition title of the Farm Bill, like theSenate’s earlier version, contains crucial anti-hunger efforts such asstrengthening the Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food AssistanceProgram.  Senator Leahy has long been a leader on these programs, whichoffer a vital safety net to millions of Americans and thousands ofVermonters.  In recent months the number of Vermonters receiving FoodStamps has risen to a 15-year high, with more than 53,000 individuals receivingFood Stamp help.  The new funding for the Food Stamp program in the FarmBill will mean that as many as 23,000 Vermonters will receive as much as $1.5million in new food assistance each year.  The bill includes initiativesto encourage better health and nutrition for children and seniors and tosupport self-sufficiency and food security in low-income communities.  Italso includes a new program authored by Leahy that will assist low-incomepeople by helping food banks acquire perishable food that would otherwise bewasted.  Strengthening Food Purchasing Power of Low-Income Vermonters — When calculating the Food Stamp help an individual or family receives, the rules of the program allow a standard deduction for the cost of such items as housing, utilities and transportation.  A decade ago, the standard deduction was frozen at $134, a move that has caused significant erosion in the purchasing power of Food Stamps, as costs for these items have risen and benefits have not kept pace.  The 2008 Farm Bill increases the standard deduction from $134 to $144 and indexes it to inflation, ending the erosion of benefits and increasing Food Stamp assistance for 20,000 Vermont families.Working Families with Childcare Expenses — Food Stamp rules allow households to deduct up to $175 per month for the cost of childcare, but this deduction has not been adjusted in more than a decade and now covers only about a quarter of the monthly cost of childcare in the United States.  To better support working families, the 2008 Farm Bill will eliminate the existing cap on the deductibility of childcare expenses.  As many as 1000 Vermont families are expected to benefit from this provision.Food Stamp Asset Reform — Despite broad agreement about the importance of family savings, the Food Stamp “asset test” has remained largely unchanged since implemented in 1977 and fails to exempt tax-preferred savings accounts from the current asset limit.  To encourage savings among low-income families, the 2008 Farm Bill will increase the current asset limit to keep pace with inflation and exempts tax-preferred education and retirement accounts from counting against the asset limit. Minimum Benefit – When calculating the monthly benefit for a Food Stamp recipient, if the amount they are eligible for is less than $10 they are guaranteed the minimum benefit.  Seniors and individuals with disabilities make up a significant portion of households that receive the minimum benefit, which for more than 30 years has remained at $10.  For the more than 3000 Vermonters who receive the minimum benefit, the 2008 Farm Bill will increase the level to $14 a month and index it to keep pace with increases in the cost of food.The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) — TEFAP provides commodity food products to food banks across the country, which then distribute those products to food pantries and other community food providers.  The Farm Bill will provide more than $1.2 billion in mandatory commodity purchases for distribution through food banks.  This will nearly double the commodity purchasing clout the Farm Bill will offer to the Vermont Foodbank, with an additional $1 million through the first five years of the bill — enough to provide 770,000 additional meals for low-income Vermonters through the food bank and local food shelves. Fruit and Vegetable Program — To promote child health and nutrition, the Farm Bill expands the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to include every state in the country, targeting those benefits to low-income children.  The proposed funding level would ensure that Vermont receives at least $2.25 million a year to assist in providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to children at school.Senior Farmers Markets and Community Food Projects — Funding for two programs fathered by Senator Leahy — the Senior Farmers Market Program (which provides vouchers for WIC recipients and low-income seniors to use at farmers markets), and Community Food Projects, (which promote self-sufficiency and food security in low-income communities) – are increased by $5 million annually in assured funding in the Farm Bill.  In Vermont, Community Food Project grants have supported the farm-to-school projects which increase access to fresh, healthy, local Vermont foods. Rural Food Bank Infrastructure Grant Program – After consultations with the Vermont Foodbank about the amount of food — especially perishable items — that could be donated to charity but instead are wasted, Senator Leahy proposed the creation of a new targeted grant initiative.  This new program in the Farm Bill will provide grants to assist emergency food organizations in acquiring some of the 96 billion pounds of food that are wasted each year.  For example, the Vermont Foodbank typically cannot afford to receive donated produce from west of the Mississippi due to the high cost of transportation.  This means that substantial amounts of fresh produce available from Western specialty crop states are lost to low-income Vermonters during the winter months when local sources are not available.  By tapping the new Leahy program, the Vermont Foodbank will be able to provide fresh produce and healthy food products at no cost to low-income households and individuals who otherwise could not afford these nutritious foods.   He said the bill’s anti-hunger efforts will make a difference inthousands of Vermonters’ lives.  “When the economy sputters,families suffer in many ways, including hunger and poor nutrition.  Thisbill is a chance to make a bad situation better.  More than 53,000Vermonters rely on federal nutrition programs each year, while thousands morewill receive assistance on an emergency basis to help them through difficulttimes.  The $10.4 billion in additional anti-hunger relief in this bill isvital, and it comes at a crucial time.” COMMODITY PROGRAM REFORM  Senator Leahy led abipartisan coalition in working for several months to secure renewal of andimprovements to the basic safety net for dairy farmers, the Milk Income LossContract (MILC) program.  In the end the MILC program received one of thelargest funding boosts of any commodity in the Farm Bill.  In addition tothe difficult achievement of extending the MILC Program for five years, Leahyand his allies succeeded in including provisions that will expand the MILCprogram in three important ways: 1.  Feed CostAdjuster – For the first time in nearly a decade the $16.94 perhundred weight MILC target price will increase when feed costs increase. The new Leahy-authored feed cost adjuster will increasethe MILC target price any time the composite monthly price of feed (corn,soybeans and alfalfa hay) rises above $7.30 per hundred weight.  For themonth of April, for example, the new MILC target price would be $19.13 perhundred weight.2.  Payment Rate – In 2002 when the MILC program wasestablished, whenever the federal minimum price for fluid milk in Boston fellbelow $16.94 per hundred weight, participating dairy farmers were eligible forpayments on 45 percent of the difference.  In the Fiscal Year 2006 OmnibusReconciliation Bill, the payment rate was reduced to 34 percent in order tomake it possible to extend the program until the Farm Bill could be rewrittenin 2008.  The 2008 Farm Bill will restore the original 45 percentpayment rate for the MILC program. 3.  EligibilityIncrease – Currently producers are eligible to receive MILC paymentson 2.4 million pounds of production per year (approximately 125 cows). The 2008 Farm Bill will increase the eligibility to 2.985 million pounds peryear (approximately 165 cows).  Of Vermont’s approximately 1100dairies that average about 120 cows per operation, more than 85 percent ofVermont’s farms now would be fully eligible for MILC payments under theFarm Bill.  Dairy Product Price Support – The 2008 Farm Bill establishes individual product prices for cheddar cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk. Commodities — The bill extends the current farm safety net through the 2012 crop year, retaining current base acres and establishing base acres for newly eligible crops.  Target prices for crops are rebalanced and direct payments are maintained.Average Crop Revenue — A new Average Crop Revenue option is added for farmers, including fixed payment rates, recourse loans, and a state-level revenue program for covered commodities and peanuts. The new Farm Bill advances key Vermont agriculture, anti-hunger andenvironmental priorities championed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the mostsenior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee of either party, who was aprincipal architect and negotiator of the bill. Father of the national organic standards and labeling program, Leahynoted that organic farming has become the fastest-growing sector of Americanagriculture and is especially robust in Vermont.  “This bill makesthe organic option a realistic option for more farmers in Vermont,” hesaid.  “That’s good for smaller farms in particular, andit’s a solid investment in growing Vermont’s economy.” CONSERVATION/LAKECHAMPLAIN CLEANUP Agricultural conservation, responsible stewardship andenvironmental quality are important to Vermont’s farmers and communitiesand were high priorities for Senator Leahy in writing the 2008 Farm Bill. Several years ago as chairman the Agriculture Committee, Leahy crafted andenacted the first “Green Farm Bills” which forged partnershipsbetween farmers and environmental goals, and since then the Farm Bill hasbecome the most significant ongoing nationwide funding source for conservationand environmental quality efforts such as the cleanup of Lake Champlain. Several of Leahy’s conservation initiatives began as pilot programs inVermont, proved themselves, and since then have expanded nationwide.  Muchof the available funding in the 2008 Farm Bill for Vermont will be directed toaddressing the water quality challenges in the Lake Champlain Basin.  Thiscrucial cleanup funding will be added to the more than $100 million SenatorLeahy has already secured in Lake Champlain cleanup funds. EnvironmentalQuality Incentive Program (EQIP) — A program created bySenator Leahy in the 1996 Farm Bill, EQIP has quickly become a major factor inthe ongoing efforts to clean up Lake Champlain.  Phosphorus levels are oneof the foremost challenges in the Lake’s restoration, and EQIP helpsproducers implement new practices that reduce the phosphorus loading in theLake and its tributaries.  With an increase in funding of $3.4 billion over ten years, theprogram will continue to help producers comply with the State ofVermont’s water quality regulations and assist dairies in implementingenvironmentally beneficial changes in their operations.  The final version of the Farm Bill, filed in Congress only Tuesday,would not only renew but also expand the basic safety net for dairy farmers,the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program; it would bring to Vermont recordlevels of funding and wider access to farmland conservation programs that havebecome crucial engines in the cleanup of Lake Champlain; it would dramaticallyincrease support for food banks and the Food Stamp program; and it would offermore support to help farmers make the transition to the booming organic sector. The 2008 Farm Bill takes significant strides in reforming who iseligible to receive commodity program payments.  First the bill tightensthe adjusted gross income eligibility test by setting new standards for farmcommodity and disaster program benefit eligibility.  To receive farmprogram benefits, an individual’s non-farm income may not exceed$500,000.  If farm income exceeds $750,000, an individual will no longerbe eligible to receive direct payments.  In addition, this Farm Bill alsoincreases transparency and accountability through the creation of a new directattribution rule which will link farm program payments directly to individuals,rather than to corporations and partnerships.  Finally, the three-entityrule, which previously enabled a farmer effectively to receive twice theenacted payment limit, has been eliminated. Leahy said improvements in the Farm Bill’s conservation programswill help limit phosphorus runoff into Vermont’s streams, rivers, andLake Champlain.  “These conservation programs have helped farmersbecome partners in achieving some of Vermont’s most pressingenvironmental goals.  These investments on the farm are important buildingblocks for real on-the-ground action for cleaning up the Lake.” Rural Energy for America Program — Funded in the Farm Bill at $250 million, this program (previously called Sec Below are Vermont highlights of the final 2008 Farm Bill, releasedWednesday by Leahy’s office: $15 Million Small State Minimum – The Leahy “Regional Equity” provision he sponsored in the 2002 Farm Bill will be increased from $12 million to $15 million a year per state.  This Leahy effort helps bring more Farm Bill resources to Vermont and other Northeastern states.  This Leahy provision requires that Vermont and each state receive an allocation of at least $15 million a year in the following working-lands conservation programs: EQIP, FPP, Grassland Reserve Program, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.  This small state minimum guarantees that states like Vermont will receive the necessary program funding to better help farmers in their stewardship of the land.Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) – A program especially important to Vermont, AMA provides $15 million a year in mandatory funding to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality and erosion control, by incorporating conservation into their farming operations.Public Access – The bill will create a new $50 million grant program for states that run programs to encourage owners of private land to allow public access for wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, fishing and birding. ENERGY/RENEWABLEENERGY WASHINGTON (Wednesday, May 14) — Vermont’s clout in agriculturepolicy again is paying big dividends as Congress races to finish work on a newbipartisan five-year Farm Bill.  The House Wednesday passed the newlynegotiated Farm Bill by a veto-proof vote of 318 to 106, and the Senate has setits vote on the bill for Thursday.  The Senate is also expected to passthe bill with more than enough votes to override a threatened presidentialveto.last_img read more

What I’ve learned from 15 of the biggest money mistakes I’ve made

first_imgI’ve made a lot of financial mistakes over the years – some obvious, some not so much. If I’ve learned anything, though, it’s that the mistakes you make yesterday do not define you today.Every single day is a new day, a day in which you can fix your bad habits and work to right the wrongs of your past.This article is a long list of some of the many personal finance mistakes I’ve made in my life, along with notes on what I did to turn those mistakes around.Mistake #1: I never knew where all of my money was going.Whenever I looked at my checking account balance, I’d have some idea in my head of how much money should be left, and there was always less there than I expected. It seemed like money just evaporated and I really didn’t have any idea where it went. I’d assume that I must have used it for something worthwhile that I had forgotten about, and if I looked through the actual list of withdrawals, it never seemed wrong. It just never made sense.​ continue reading » 59SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Djokovic: “significant donation” to a Bergamo hospital

first_img“We’d by no means have imagined seeing in our checking account a donation of such a prestigious character. Nowadays many corporations, associations and personal entities helped us and I respect their generosity. Studying that among the many donors is #1 on the planet (tennis) has moved me, “he mentioned.” Djokovic’s important donation will enable us to rework the hospital’s intensive care space. We can be ready to enlarge the rooms, enhance medical gadgets and we can be extra prepared to handle emergencies, “he added.Djokovic had printed a message a few days in the past on his social networks to encourage Italy within the struggle in opposition to the coronavirus, which has already triggered greater than 20,000 deaths within the nation. “Expensive Italy, even if you’re going by a tough time, I would like you to know that you’re not alone. We help you and ship you our love and our ideas. We wish you to be sturdy to face and overcome these tough days. Could you be sturdy, wholesome and united. Every part can be superb, “wrote the Serb. Serbian tennis participant Novak Djokovic, #1 on the planet rating, made a “important donation” to a hospital in Bergamo, one of many Italian cities most affected by the coronavirus, to assist in the struggle in opposition to this illness. Djokovic, who has a sturdy hyperlink with Italy and who speaks excellent Italian, collectively along with his household, gave his contribution to the ASST (Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territorial) of West Bergamo, The director normal of the construction, Peter Assembergs, reported this Wednesday.last_img read more

CHEF CONRAD SHAMED INTO PAYING MIGRANT WORKER’S WAGES

first_imgMIGRANT worker Rishi Mohiputlall was finally paid wages due to him for over a year by celebrity chef Conrad Gallagher today.The Letterkenny man paid up €1,400 after a public action outside his restaurant Salon des Saveurs on Aungier St. was postponed last Friday lunchtime.Mr Mohiputlall, from Mauritius, worked in Gallagher’s restaurant for a period in 2010, and had still not been paid. Following numerous attempts to retrieve his wages, including an official complaint to the Labour Relations Commission, Mr Mohiputlall decided to go public on the issue.Last Friday’s action was organised by the Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum, established by SIPTU and Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), to support Mr Mohiputlall in trying to obtain his wages and to draw public attention to such practices in the restaurant industry.Reacting to the news that Mr Gallagher had transferred wages owed in full to the worker’s account, Mr Mohiputlall said: “I am very happy to finally have received the money I was owed, but I believe it shouldn’t be so difficult to simply get paid your wages. I was very grateful for the support of fellow workers in the Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum.“If workers stand together and support each other, it’s good for all of us and we can stop these types of abuses. These are tough times for low-paid workers and we need to take a stand together.” Ms Helen Lowry of MRCI told donegaldaily.com: “We are delighted for Rishi that he has finally been paid, however we believe that it should not take over a year of repeated attempts, a legal case at the LRC, and finally the threat of public denunciation to ensure that employers pay their staff their wages.“This is not an isolated incident – our experience shows that non-compliance in the restaurant industry continues to be a real problem, and must be addressed. This can be done by workers organising collectively for change, joining a trade union, and reporting abuses to the authorities.”According to Pat Ward of SIPTU: “This experience shows that, now more than ever, we must ensure protections remain in place for low-paid workers who need them most.“The Restaurant Association of Ireland, who has led recent attacks on workers’ wages and conditions, should spend more of its time trying to get restaurants to comply with existing labour law rather than cut workers’ wages.’ The Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum believes that a successful industry is possible while providing fair and decent conditions for workers.”CHEF CONRAD SHAMED INTO PAYING MIGRANT WORKER’S WAGES was last modified: July 5th, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Conrad GallagherMigrant RightsMRCIunpaid wageslast_img read more