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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

Update on the latest sports

first_imgUpdate on the latest sports The Court of Arbitration for Sport found three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang guilty Friday of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his home in September 2018, when a blood sample container was smashed with a hammer.In a unanimous verdict, the CAS panel of three judges found that Sun “failed to establish that he had a compelling justification to destroy his sample collection containers and forego the doping control when, in his opinion, the collection protocol was not in compliance.”The 6-foot, 7-inch Sun, the first Chinese swimmer to win Olympic gold, has long been a polarizing figure in the pool. Rivals branded him a drug cheat at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and two competitors refused to stand with him on medal podiums at the 2019 world championships.Now banned until February 2028, the 28-year-old Sun cannot defend his 200-meter freestyle title in Tokyo.VIRUS OUTBREAK-USOPC February 28, 2020 The cauldron was lit by boxing great Muhammad Ali during the opening ceremonies in 1996. It will be reignited Saturday by Georgia State University Athletics Director Charlie Cobb. USOPC relying on facts and planning to deal with coronavirusDENVER (AP) — Managers at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee have coronavirus on their minds. They’ve been gathering information from the individual sports, trying to figure out what events are being affected and what others could be in the future.With the Tokyo Games set for July, the USOPC insists there are no backup plans being made. But the information is good to have with the Olympic qualifying season gearing up. For instance, six athletes will punch their ticket to Tokyo on Saturday at the U.S. marathon trials.USOPC Chief of Sport Performance Rick Adams says in addition to collecting the logistical information, the federation is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security to get every update about coronavirus, how it is spreading and what can be done to avoid it.The Olympics open on July 24, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25. Koepka misses the cutPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Brooks Koepka’s (KEHP’-kuhz) stay at the Honda Classic is over before the weekend began.The highest-ranked player in field missed six putts inside of 10 feet Friday on his way to a second consecutive round of 4-over 74. That left him at 8 over par and well outside the cut line at what essentially is his home tournament in Florida.Says Koepka: “It’s very easy out here to turn a decent round into a little bit of a disaster.” He plans to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week, the second of what would be five consecutive weeks of tournaments.NCAA-RULES The deal for the 23-year-old right-hander covers two years of club salary control and his three years of arbitration eligibility. There are a pair of team options that if exercised would raise the value to $30 million over seven seasons.If he turns into a star, the Brewers will have him at far under market value. But for now, he is guaranteed nearly 30 times the $533,258 he earned last year.In other MLB news:— New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is upset over his latest injury, a strained right calf that could sideline him for opening day. Stanton was hurt Tuesday during outfield drills, and an MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain, the least serious on the scale. Stanton said his chance to play in the March 26 opener at Baltimore all depends on his progress by the end of next week. Stanton played in just 18 games and hit .288 with three homers in 59 at-bats. He had 38 homers in his first year with the Yankees in 2018.PGA-HONDA CLASSIC-KOEPKA Michigan gets more than 100 complaints against former doctorANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan says its hotline has received more than 100 “unique complaints” about a late physician accused of sexual abuse by former patients, including athletes who encountered him as a team doctor.In a statement released Friday with the updated total, a spokesman urged others to contact the university.The university’s president apologized last week to “anyone who was harmed” by Dr. Robert E. Anderson. His comment came a day after the school announced it was investigating abuse allegations against Anderson by five former patients.Men who have since spoken publicly about Anderson include former athletes who encountered him as a physician for the school’s athletic teams and former students who said the doctor molested them during medical exams at the university’s health service. NCAA committee proposes 2-minute limit on replay reviewsUNDATED (AP) — The NCAA football rules committee is proposing two-minute limits on replay reviews and allowing players ejected from a game for targeting to remain in the bench area.The committee met Friday in Indianapolis and also recommended requiring game officials to be on the field 90 minutes before a contest begins — instead of 60 minutes. It also recommended a coach be on the field for team pregame warmups. The committee said it was concerned about “negative interactions” between teams before officials are required to be on the field.Proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss changes April 16.UNIVERSITY-OF-MICHIGAN-DOCTOR Associated Press Police records released to The Associated Press show University of Michigan officials were warned more than four decades ago that Anderson was fondling patients during medical exams and pressured him to step down as director of the health service.Other complaints detail alleged abuse by Anderson throughout his tenure at the university. He retired in 2003 and died in 2008.CAS-SUN YANG APPEALOlympic champion Sun Yang banned for 8 years in doping caseGENEVA (AP) — China’s greatest swimmer has been banned for eight years for breaking anti-doping rules and will miss the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 1996 OLYMPICS-CAULDRONAtlanta’s Olympic cauldron to be relit for marathon trialATLANTA (AP) — The Olympic cauldron used in the 1996 Games in Atlanta is scheduled to be publicly lit for the first time in more than two decades on Saturday.News outlets report Georgia State University announced the cauldron will be lit for the Olympic marathon trial. The course weaves through some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods.The race is expected to determine who will represent the United States in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditMLB-NEWSPeralta finalizes $15.5M deal with BrewersUNDATED (AP) — Milwaukee pitcher Freddy Peralta has chosen financial security over the potential for far more money down the road, finalizing a $15.5 million, five-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.last_img read more

Astros to call up minor league home run leader Yordan Alvarez, report says

first_imgHouston has failed to score more than four runs in 11 of their last 18 games, but the Astros fortunately continue to win games thanks to its pitching staff. They are 12-6 through that stretch games.Alvarez has spent time at both first base and left field, but he is likely to get time at both spots and designated hitter in his time in MLB. The Astros are calling up Yordan Alvarez from Triple A ahead of tomorrow’s game, sources tell The Athletic.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) June 9, 2019Alvarez, 21, has 23 home runs in 56 games this season, that is two more than any other player in MILB and three more than he has ever hit in a season.The former Cuban National Series player was acquired in a trade from the Dodgers for reliever Josh Fielder before he ever had an at-bat on U.S. soil. Related News Astros fans are going to be thrilled.According to The Athletic, Houston will call up minor league home-run leader Yordan Alvarez in the coming days. MLB wrap: Astros win second extra-inning game in two days on Orioles blunder He subsequently rose up the prospect ranks and is now rated as the No. 23 player in all of minor league baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.The Astros need the bat in their lineup right now as George Springer, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are all on the 10-day injured list.last_img read more

STRAIGHT A’S FOR VOODOO FOR TONIGHT’S EXAM ‘CELEBRATIONS’

first_imgVoodoo Venue Letterkenny is the only place to be tonight to celebrate your exam results.Special guest DJ Joel Corry will be spinning the discs with warm up from local DJ Kevin Lennon.Doors open at 11pm, and the normal Tuesday night drink offers apply. Admission €10 with cheap list €7 till 12.30.To get on cheap list use our new GLISTRR system on our Facebook page.See Facebook for more details.STRAIGHT A’S FOR VOODOO FOR TONIGHT’S EXAM ‘CELEBRATIONS’ was last modified: August 13th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare 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:DJEntertainmenthome-page featuresLeaving Cert ResultsnewsVoodoo Venuelast_img read more