Georgia Beef Challenge

first_imgMore than 1,000 young beef cattle took a special trip to Kansas last fall as a part of the GeorgiaBeef Challenge. Those cattle and their predecessors provided information that helped the Georgia beef industryearn $10 million more in 1994 than in years past. The state’s cattle are still sold at a discount, but the rate has dropped to 4 percent, dramaticallyincreasing Georgia beef farmers’ income. “The ideal would be a combination of heavy muscling with the minimum acceptable marbling fortenderness,” Stewart said. The Challenge continues into the 1995-96 calf season. With the next group of calves to beshipped out this month, Stewart expects producers to consign about a thousand animals to theprogram. Over the past decade, consumers have demanded leaner, tenderer beef at the grocery store. Butfarmers can’t find out how lean their animals are unless they follow them through the feedlot andpacking house. The program is providing benefits all around: the feedlots are getting better-quality calves fromGeorgia, beef lovers are getting better steaks and roasts, and (the benefit that makes it all work)Georgia farmers are getting more money for their cattle. Randolph County beef farmer Bobby Lovett found the Challenge enlightening. “It should be veryevident to people whose calves don’t perform well that they need to make some changes — mostlikely, genetic changes,” he said. After finding out why Georgia farmers receive less money for similar animals, Stewart worked toset up the Challenge with the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, the U.S. Department ofAgriculture Market News, and Hitch Feeders II, a Garden City, Kan., feedlot. Producers usually base the value of their bull selections on how much money they take homefrom the buying point. Stewart said those numbers don’t always tell the whole story. The Challenge does just that. “Because of that reputation, Southeastern farmers’ beef prices were discounted by 7 percent,”Stewart said. Over the years, that discount has cost the Georgia beef industry millions of dollars. Then, after slaughter, each animal’s fat percentage, rib eye area score and other facts are added toits record. “I think it’s making better cattlemen out of all of us,” Lovett said. “The Georgia Beef Challenge is a method for these cattlemen to see where their genetics are atthis point in time,” said Robert Stewart, an animal scientist with the University of GeorgiaExtension Service. Stewart began the program just four years ago to eliminate the reputation Southeastern calves hadfor being inferior to beef produced in other parts of the country. Some cattle are more heavily muscled with very little fat. Others lay extra fat within the muscle– this marbling makes meat tenderer, but higher in fat. Stewart said most industry trends start at the feedlot and packing houses, “and we’re far removedfrom there, so we may miss some of that information.” “It’s the only reasonable way that they can get feedback on what their genetics are producing andcontributing to the industry,” he said. The news is not always good for the farmer. “It’s going to point out his strengths and weaknesses,and we have to emphasize them both,” Stewart said. Consumers want beef that’s lean and tender. Armed with information from the Georgia BeefChallenge, a farmer can adjust his genetic program to aim for that perfect combination. Cattle in the program travel to the Kansas feedlot, where assistants record the daily weight gainof each animal as the cattle mature. The county Extension office has information about producing beef and including beef in ahealthy, well-balanced diet.last_img read more

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Cuban Agents Advise Nicaraguan Military

first_imgWomen members of the “Mothers of April” association attend mass in honor of their children killed during the protests against the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on mother’s day celebration in Managua on May 30, 2019. (Photo by INTI OCON / AFP) security and stability of countries throughout the region,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the press. “The Cuban regime has for years exported its tactics of intimidation, repression, and violence.”On November 13, 2018, the Nicaraguan Congress authorized the entry of boats, aircraft, and military personnel from Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela in the second semester of 2019 to train and exchange experiences. The Nicaraguan Army will also be able to deploy military personnel in nations that will send their officers with the same purposes. Every six months, the Nicaraguan government renews the entry of foreign troops and military equipment to the country.“The diplomatic support Nicaragua receives from Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba severely undercuts international efforts to apply pressure on the Ortega regime,” said the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies in its December 2018 report “Lessons from Venezuela for Nicaragua.”“Although Cuban advisers openly intervene in Nicaragua posing as tourists or covertly, the international community should join efforts to confront and block the Ortega-Murillo regime’s authoritarian actions,” Serrano concluded. By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 10, 2019 According to the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism, more than 5,000 Cubans arrived in Nicaragua during the first five months of 2019, an increase of almost 900 percent compared to the 566 who arrived in the country in 2018. Far from being attracted to the country’s touristic landmarks, most Cubans are there for covert activities to help President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, remain in power.On May 30, Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa reported that 200 advisers from the Cuban Intelligence Directorate operate regularly with the Nicaraguan Armed Forces and provide training to police and Customs and Prison System Directorate officials. Some advisers arrived in the country in 2007, but that number increased exponentially after the April 2018 uprising, which left hundreds of protesters dead, missing, and imprisoned, and led thousands of Nicaraguans to go into exile.“Cuban strategists are capable of neutralizing internal dissidents in the most brutal way and maintaining the dual Ortega-Murillo dictatorship,” said Jorge Serrano, an academic at the Peruvian Center for Higher National Studies. “Cuba deploys political and military intelligence and counterintelligence advisers in military bases and in key situations for political and economic power in Nicaragua,” Serrano told Diálogo.Aníbal Toruño, head of Nicaraguan Radio Darío, told Panamanian newspaper Panam that service members fly into the country on commercial flights among Cuban migrants who seek to escape the island and head to the United States. “This is a covert way of sending intelligence agents and advisers allied to Ortega’s service, at a time of increased fear over the idea that sandinismo will remain in power,” he added.Although the Cuban regime considers Venezuela the crown jewel of resources, Nicaragua is in a strategic geographical location for the interests of the coalition that China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela comprise, Serrano said. “The Caribbean country is the strategic head of an ‘international-continental plan’ that seeks to defend the presence of leftist forces in Latin America to the very end,” he said.He pointed out that socialist leader Raúl Castro and Cuban Interior Minister Julio César Gandarilla run and operate the political advice strategy of radical, violent, systematic, and selective repression in Nicaragua. He also added that this is the same maneuver Cuban political leaders, military, and intelligence institutions use to support Nicolás Maduro internally. “These strategists do not advise from a distance, they do so onsite.”During the May 29 forum the Cuba Justice Commission held in San José, Costa Rica, Nicaraguan exiles denounced the increase of Cuban military personnel in repressive operations by the Ortega regime. During this event, former Nicaraguan service member Carlos Zamorán told the commission that the Cuban presence among the Nicaraguan military dates back to 1980. “The military were supposed to be advisers, but they were prepared to torture and kill farmers.”“Cuba’s behavior in the Western Hemisphere undermines thelast_img read more

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The Photo – November 2013

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York STANDING UNITED: Long Beach residents form a human chain of hands in remembrance to mark the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated much of the City by the Sea. (Joe Abate/Long Island Press)last_img

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Surveys show rising health care costs affect retirement savings—HSAs are a solution

first_imgLike many Americans, Gavin Smith’s employer is offering only a high deductible health plan (HDHP) next year. Having two active sons and knowing the HDHP has higher out-of-pocket amounts, he is worried about having enough money to pay the medical bills. Gavin decides to reduce the amount he saves for retirement to help free up more money for health care costs.A recent survey by Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI)/Greenwald & Associates shows that Gavin is not the only worker making a choice like this. Some workers are sacrificing their retirement security to meet their potential medical expense obligations. Unfortunately, this only shifts the financial burden from health care to retirement readiness.While HDHP enrollment continues to grow, some workers and employers may not realize how health savings accounts—a component of HDHPs—can reduce their financial concern. Workers save money using tax-free HSA distributions for qualified medical expenses. And similar to retirement plans, many employers help fund their workers’ HSAs to encourage HDHP enrollment, which is a cost savings for employers and workers alike.Worker DissatisfactionThe Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI)/Greenwald & Associates recently released the 2016 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS), which shows that some workers are sacrificing their retirement security in response to rising health care costs. The survey included 1,500 workers between ages 21–64. The results show, among other things, that some workers are reducing their retirement plan contributions, taking loans and withdrawals from their retirement savings, or delaying retirement.28 percent of workers who reported an increase in health plan costs decreased their retirement plan contributions, and 48 percent have decreased their contributions to other savings.12 percent took a loan or withdrawal from their retirement plan. 30 percent have delayed retirement as a result of rising health care costs.Another survey, the 2017 Workplace Benefits Report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, also indicates that health care costs negatively affect financial wellness. This survey included a national sampling of 1,242 employees across the U.S. whose employers offer 401(k) plans. Survey results show that 79 percent experienced an increase in health care costs in 2016 (up from 69 percent in 2015). Among those experiencing an increase, 56 percent are spending less or contributing less to their financial goals and about 62 percent are saving less for retirement. HSAs GrowingAlthough the cost of health care seems to be having a negative impact on saving for retirement, it is shedding light on a possible solution—saving with an HSA. The number of HSAs and the amount of HSA contributions are at all-time highs, and are a clear reflection of growing enrollment in HDHPs. And expectations are that this trend will continue if employers continue moving to HDHPs. Devenir, a national leader of customized investment solutions for HSAs and the consumer-directed healthcare market, conducts annual HSA market surveys of the top 100 HSA providers. Devenir’s 2016 Year-End HSA Market Statistics and Trends report shows that the number of HSAs exceeded 20 million at year-end 2016 (a 22 percent increase over 2015), holding almost $37 billion in assets (a 20 percent increase). Of a total $25.5 billion HSA contributions made in 2016,26 percent came from employer contributions ($868 average employer contribution), 46 percent from employees ($1,786 average employee contribution), and19 percent from individual contributions not associated with an employer ($1,713 average individual contribution).The survey also shows that health plan partnerships are the largest driver of new account growth in 2016. Health plan referrals account for 37 percent of new accounts opened. Direct employer relationships accounted for 32 percent of new accounts.The remaining drivers are insurance agent referrals (10 percent), administrator/TPA referrals (9 percent), and individuals (5 percent).While HSA assets are withdrawn every year to cover medical costs, the amount that is retained in HSAs continues to grow every year. When looking at contribution and withdrawal activity, Devenir estimates that 22 percent ($5.7 billion) of HSAs assets were retained at year-end 2016. HSA SolutionMore Americans are moving to HDHPs—by choice or as driven by their employers—and the number of HSAs continues to rise. Employers and individuals should understand the benefits of HSAs. Individuals can pay for current medical expenses or save for future expenses with an HSA—there is no use it or lose it rule. Contributions reduce taxable income. Earnings on the account build tax free. Distributions are tax-free if properly used for qualified medical expenses. Individuals who save on medical expenses may have more money in their budget to focus on other savings needs. Educating employers and individuals about the tax benefits of an HSA will not only encourage HDHP/HSA participation, but can free up funds for IRA and retirement plan contributions. 26SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Christle Johnson Christle Johnson has worked at Ascensus since 2001 as a consultant and an editor. Her work includes researching, writing, and editing a variety of topics on IRAs, HSAs, and employer-sponsored … Web: https://www2.ascensus.com Detailslast_img read more

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