South Africa at the Olympics, Part 2

first_imgMelbourne 1956 How much do you know about South Africa’s history at the Olympics? When was the country’s best performance? Who are SA’s top Olympians? Catch up on the records and the trivia in the second of three articles covering the 18 Olympic Games the country has competed in. Thirty years later, Harrison was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the second South African to receive the honour after Karen Muir, who was inducted in 1980. Berlin was the venue for the 1936 Olympic Games. With Adolf Hitler looking on, and exploiting the event for propaganda purposes, Germany topped the medal standings, capturing 33 golds and 89 medals in total. The USA, with 24 golds and 56 medals, finished second, with Hungary in third place. Further bronze medals in boxing came from featherweight Leonard Leisching and heavyweight Andries Nieman. The 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games were very successful for the country as it won 10 medals, made up of two gold, four silver and four bronze medals. Boxer Daan Bekker followed up on his bronze medal of four years earlier in Melbourne with a silver medal this time around. In a break from established tradition, two women won the nation’s only gold medals. Esther Brand, in the high jump, and Joan Harrison, in the 100 metres backstroke, became the first South African women to be crowned Olympic champions. Harrison was also the first South African swimmer to win a gold medal. Dennis Shepherd won silver in the featherwight division, losing to Italy’s Ernesto Formenti in the final, and John Arthur claimed bronze in the heavyweight class. The two gold medals, one silver and one bronze made South Africa the most successful boxing nation at the 1948 Olympics. It was also the sum total of the Olympic team’s efforts. South Africa finished a lowly 33rd on the medal table. At the top, the Soviet Union claimed first place ahead of the United States and Australia. The Soviets produced 37 champions and won 98 medals in all, while the Americans had 32 champions and won 74 medals in total. It didn’t succeed and he was captured and sentenced to death in 1943. This was later commuted to a life sentence, and in 1948 Liebbrandt was released from prison in an amnesty of war offenders. South Africa won only a single medal, with boxer Charles Catterall taking silver in the featherweight class after losing to Oscar Casanovas of Argentina in the final. South Africa’s boxers delivered the goods once more, landing two gold medals. Leibbrandt, meanwhile, was clearly impressed by what he saw in Berlin and was thus courted the by Nazis. He was among a group of athletes chosen to meet Adolf Hitler and came away very impressed. Gerald Dreyer annexed the lightweight title, defeating Belgian Joseph Vissers in the final. Later that year, Dreyer began a successful professional career, competing mostly in New York City. He won 41 times, lost eight fights, and drew twice, with 23 knockouts. George Hunter lifted the light-heavyweight title. He also received the Val Barker Trophy for the Outstanding Boxer of the Games. Among the men to follow in his footsteps are Cuban legend Teofilo Stevenson and American star Roy Jones junior. 19 July 2012 Helsinki 1952 Last week, in his farewell address to the country’s Olympic and Paralympic teams ahead of their departure for London, South African President Jacob Zuma said the Olympic movement “stood with us at every turn of the struggle for freedom and liberation, stating boldly and unapologetically, that there could be no normal sport in an abnormal society. “The international isolation of racist South African teams and the boycott of touring South African teams contributed immensely to mobilising the world against apartheid South Africa,” Zuma said. On 10 July 1991, with South Africa heading inexorably towards democracy – Nelson Mandela had been released from prison after 27 years on 11 February 1990 – the International Olympic Committee announced South Africa’s re-admission to the Olympics. At Barcelona in 1992, South Africa took its place once more at the biggest multi-code sporting event of them all. The Olympic Games moved to the southern hemisphere for the first time in their history in 1956, with Melbourne, Australia, the host city. Raymond Robinson, who had finished second in the tandem, added a bronze medal in the 1 000 metres individual time trial. Overall, the team ended 12th on the medal table. The Soviet Union pushed the USA hard for first place, but the Americans claimed the honours again, with 40 golds and 76 medals to the Soviet team’s 22 golds and 71 medals. In 1938 he returned to Berlin to study at the Reich Academy for Gymnastics and when World War Two broke out, he joined the German Army and was trained as a paratrooper. In 1964, on 18 August, less than two months before the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in Lausanne that South Africa had failed to meet an ultimatum to comply with its demand to condemn apartheid by 16 August. Daphne Hasenjager placed second in the women’s 100 metres, while boxer Theunis van Schalkwyk was a silver medallist in the light-middleweight division. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material South Africa had announced in June that there would be seven black athletes in its Olympic team of 62, but that did not go far enough in the eyes of the IOC. Malcolm Spence won a bronze medal in the 400 metres and William Meyers claimed a bronze in the featherweight boxing division. Spence’s medal would be the last South African Olympic medal won for 32 years, while the Rome Olympics are the last Games in which South Africa won a boxing medal. Cycling star Alfred Swift, competing in the second of the three Olympics Games that he would attend, finished third in the 1 000 metres time trial, while the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team of Moira Abernathy, Jeanette Myburgh, Nathalie Myburgh and Susan Roberts claimed bronze. Berlin 1936 Another boxer, Robey Leibbrandt, competed in the light-heavyweight class and won through to the semi-finals after defeating the Czechoslavakian Frantisek Havelka in the quarterfinals, but he had broken his right hand in the second round of the contest. Daan Bekker and Henry Loubscher continued South Africa’s fine Olympic boxing record, with bronze medals in the heavyweight and light-welterweight divisions respectively. South Africa placed eighth on the boxing medal table, although the country’s total of four medals was the fourth highest. Boxer Willie Toweel, a member of the famous Toweel family, won bronze in the flyweight division. As a professional, he went on to a record of 46 wins, six losses and two draws with 23 knockouts. Rome 1960Rome, in Italy, hosted the 1960 Olympics, which were to prove South Africa’s last for another 32 years. Cyclists George Estman, Robert Fowler, Thomas Shardelow and Alfred Swift teamed up to lift silver in the men’s 4 000 metres pursuit, while Raymond Robinson and Shardelow also won silver in the 2 000 metres tandem. South Africa finished in 18th place on the medal table. The USA, with 38 golds and 84 medals in total, claimed top spot ahead of Sweden and France. South Africa finished in 28th place on the medal table. The Soviet Union repeated as the top team, winning 43 gold medals and 103 medals in total. The USA, in second, won 34 gold medals and 71 medals overall. He later returned to South Africa, dropped off the coast by a submarine, to lead Operation Weissdorn, a plan to overthrow the government of General Jan Smuts. Despite the handicap and the pain he was in, Leibbrandt refused to give up and took on Frenchman Roger Michelot in the semi-finals, with the use of only his left hand. As a result, it withdrew South Africa’s invitation to the Tokyo Games and said the decision could be overturned only when South Africa renounced racial discrimination in sport and opposed the ban in the country on competition between black and white athletes. South Africa banned from the Olympics After a hugely gutsy performance, it appeared to the crowd and the media that Leibbrandt had won through to the final, but in a controversial decision, in a competition dogged by them, Michelot was declared the winner on points. The Frenchman went on to easily win the gold medal, defeating Germany’s Richard Vogt on points. Doctors, meanwhile, barred Leibbrandt from contesting the bout for the bronze medal. London 1948Because of the Second World War, there was a 12-year break before the Olympics were next held in 1948 in London.last_img read more

Plow days set for July 28 in Alvordton

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest On Saturday July 28, 2018 in a wheat stubble field on the east edge of Alvordton, Ohio, antique tractors of all types will arrive with moldboard plows in tow as well as “antique” farmers will arrive with grandchildren in tow. Massey Harris tractors of all sizes will arrive and tractor enthusiasts as well as nostalgia seekers will come to “see how we used to do it.”The Annual Plow Days Event is hosted by the Alvordton-Millcreek Township Volunteer Fire Department in cooperation with Kunkle Farms LLC and Darin Meyers Farms.This year’s event will feature big power and big iron with not one, but two Big Bud tractors. Featured tractors will be a 650-50 Big Bud, one of only 5 Ag models produced and the only remaining in the United States pulling a DMI 21 bottom hydra-flex moldboard ploy, the largest moldboard plow ever produced. Also featured will be a 525-50 Big Bud, pulling an 18 bottom Will-Rich plow, also the largest model produced by the company. Antique tractor owners are invited to participate with tractors 40 years old or older and plows suited to fit the horsepowerThe Massey Harris Collectors Association will be holding their national meeting at the event, with all models of Massey Harris tractors welcome.The Alvordton-Millcreek Township Firefighters will be providing their delicious open pit barbecue chicken dinners starting at noon. Registration for the event starts at 10AM with plowing beginning at 11AM. Alvordton is located on US Route 20 between Angola, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio. Additional information can be obtained by calling event coordinator Don Kunkle at 419-553-9523.last_img read more

Farms on the Margins

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Chris ClaytonDTN Ag Policy EditorOMAHA (DTN) — Iowa attorney Joe Peiffer spent the latter half of February helping some of his clients try to restructure debt and get operating loans for 2019 after these farmers found out their past lenders weren’t going to continue financing them.“Right now, we’re having many people find out shortly before they have to pay rent that they aren’t going to have financing,” said Peiffer, who works with farmers in Iowa and Illinois.Some of these farmers needed millions to pay rent. Peiffer said they didn’t all get financing. Farmers who gave up rented ground run the risk of being sued for any shortfall landlords experience if they must lower rent to secure a new tenant.At the well-known farmer support organization, Farm Aid, officials say they have added staffers for the group’s hotline, which has seen a doubling in crisis call volumes.Peiffer and others see more distressed farmers looking for help even as broader debt indicators show a farm economy, while certainly down from levels five to 10 years ago, not in crisis. Overall, farm loan delinquency rates at banks remain around 2%, according to Federal Reserve and FDIC numbers. Reports filed at the end of last year by Farm Credit lenders show the number of loans in bankruptcy or foreclosure amount to 1.35% of total loans made by Farm Credit associations. With $194.5 billion loaned out at the end of last year, the dollar figure of non-accrual loans was $1.3 billion, or just 0.66% of total loan dollars.Farm Service Agency, which used to be considered the lender of last resort, has seen its rate of delinquent borrowers rise from 16.97% in 2013 (the height of farm income) to 19.41% now. The agency’s 2018 direct loan volume is up $3.24 billion, to $11.25 billion since 2013. Delinquent loan debt has gone up $147.9 million during that same period. The percentage of loan dollars delinquent is 5.75%, which is lower than in 2013.SHORING DEFENSESSome of the increased financial work is with farmers trying to head off a crisis. Peiffer is spending more time with farmers trying to get their liabilities below the Chapter 12 bankruptcy limit of $4,153,150. Peiffer and others, including Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., believe the debt limit for Chapter 12 needs to be raised. “There are a lot of farmers, even when not talking about lease debt, who are over the top,” Peiffer said.“While Chapter 12 is a wonderful chapter for bankruptcy, many people who aren’t necessarily farming that many acres can’t qualify for it because their debts are too high.“Right now, I’m in a spot where I’m hiring additional attorneys to help more farmers. I’m turning business away and I can’t do it all,” Peiffer said.Financial stress is likely to get worse for many farmers caught up in the stress of flooding.“USDA and ag economists point to numbers that are much rosier than reflect the reality we hear from farmers,” said Jennifer Fahy, communication coordinator for Farm Aid.Farm Aid has had a hotline since the organization was created in 1985. Throughout most of the group’s existence, though, the hotline normally operated with one staffer. For much of its existence, the hotline operated more as a “how-to” resource, answering questions about converting to organic production, marketing directly to consumers and through farmers markets, or helping people wanting to become farmers. Over the past couple years, the hotline has added two staff members to deal more with crisis calls, Fahy told DTN.“Now we are going back to those times of the ’80s,” Fahy said. “We have seen more than a 100% increase in the hotline volume.”Forrest Buhler, an attorney at Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services run through Kansas State Extension, said the caseload at that office has doubled since 2015. The number of referrals the group makes to individual farm analysts has doubled as well.“We’ve had a big increase in the number of cases over the last few years and are seeing some very difficult situations because of the economy and the way things are,” Buhler said. “That has become kind of chronic since about 2015 when net farm income kind of dropped precipitously at that point and hasn’t really come back to its full robust self like it had been in 2014. It’s been a steady flow and seemingly more difficult cases in that respect.”Farm Aid often refers farmers to Extension staff in their respective states or to private organizations who will send people to run financial programs with farmers and talk about options. Over time, though, resources have been chipped away. There are more than three dozen states in which Farm Aid doesn’t have a direct contact or resource for farmers to turn to in their states.Among the reasons Fahy said farmer are being turned away from loans is bankers telling farmers they need an off-farm job that offers health insurance to be financed.The lack of good banking options has forced farmers to turn to credit-card debt as well. More farmers are charging their farm expenses to a credit card. Buhler recalls a farmer who had more than $120,000 in operating expenses charged on credit cards. “So if the lenders won’t loan them money, they are having to go to other sources to try to finance their operations,” he said. “So that’s another red flag we have seen quite a bit of.”With lower commodity prices continuing and carryover debt piling up, it’s becoming harder for farmers to find a production option for 2019 that will cash flow, Buhler said. “We’re seeing a pretty serious situation, at least here in Kansas. We’re obviously in a position where we’re starting to see more liquidations. Creditors are saying, ‘Debt has to come down, so we’re going to have to have you liquidate some land or liquidate some machinery.’ Things like this are happening just to get down to a basic level where they can see a way to cash flow the operation,” Buhler said.“We are hearing from farmers who have been denied operating loans and they may not have that foreclosure notice yet, or they may not be behind in those debts yet, but without those operating loans, it won’t be long,” Fahy said. “Dairy is certainly one of those areas where we have already seen foreclosures and people getting out of the business.”MILK SUPPLIES WEIGH ON DAIRYJim Goodman, of Wonewoc, Wisconsin, was one of nearly 700 dairy farmers in that state who shut down last year as he closed his 45-head organic dairy last fall. Wisconsin has lost roughly 40% of its dairy farms over the past decade. He explained the problem currently for dairy farmers: “Just too much milk.”Goodman added, “I just got a USDA dairy newsletter yesterday about milk production for the last month, and outside of a couple of states, milk production is up a 1.5% increase nationwide.”On the state level, officials point to hope in the farm bill’s new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. USDA earlier this month detailed payment options for January market conditions that would kick in for dairy farmers based on the coverage they enroll in, but program enrollment might not happen until June. USDA has said it’s made dairy enrollment rules top priority to iron out as the agency readies for handling new farm bill programs.As others are reporting about farms in general, Goodman is hearing lenders will increasingly move to foreclose this spring rather than loaning yet additional operating funds for debt-heavy farmers to put out the 2019 crop.Many dairy farmers are deciding on their own to close while they still have some equity in the operation, Goodman said. “Over the last few years, I have had a few neighbors that have made that decision,” he said. “Two years ago, cows were worth a little bit more money and the forecast was that milk prices were going to go back down, and they said, ‘Let’s get out while we still have something left in it.’”On the national level, leaders insist there’s light at the end of the tunnel for dairy farmers with a possible trade deal with China and ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. For others, the buzzword in dairy is supply management, which has gained a lot of popularity in Wisconsin with the Farmers Union.SUPPLY’S SIREN SONG“Almost all of the popular farm press has articles about supply management where a few years ago almost none of them would,” Goodman said. “It may not be something that has a lot of support politically, but it certainly seems that the farmers are looking at Canada where not many farms go out of business and you are kind of assured getting a fairly decent price for your milk.“Every time farmers see something like that going on, they ask, ‘Why?’”Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was pressed earlier this month by farmers in Vermont about supply management. Philosophically, Perdue just couldn’t go for it, according to Vermont Public Radio.“The dairy industry is wide and broad in the U.S., [and] I don’t really see a lot of hopes for a Canadian-type supply management system,” Perdue said. “Look, when you’re under economic stress and you’re rushed, you look for any kind of help where you can find it. I certainly understand, I’m not offended by the question. I just don’t think the spirit of entrepreneurship and economic liberty in the United States really calls for a supply management system in any of our crop areas.”FARMLAND BEGINS DOWNTURNAgricultural economy experts often point to the strength of farmland throughout this downturn as a saving grace, but land values show signs of softening in key farm states. Nebraska agricultural land values, before last week’s flood, had declined by 3% since a year ago, according to preliminary results from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Farm Real Estate Market Survey. The statewide average of land values is $2,650 per acre. Values have dropped nearly 20% since peaking at $3,315 in 2014. Rental rates were also down, including a 10% drop in center-pivot-irrigated cropland in northern Nebraska.Iowa farmland values also fell 2.7% overall over the past year, according to a new report from the Iowa Chapter of the Realtors Land Institute. The average farmland value statewide was $6,794 an acre. Iowa land values have fallen roughly 17% since 2013, the Des Moines Register reported.Tom Jensen, senior vice president of lending, First National Bank of Omaha, said the number of problem loans are ticking up, but lot of good decisions in recent years to helping more farmers hold their heads above water.“While land values are off their peaks, they haven’t taken large drops, at least in our area. But the big help is that interest rates continue to be reasonable. Farmers are having losses, but the effects of that don’t compare when loans are at 5% to 6% versus (in the 1980s) when they were in the teens and up to 20%.”He said bankers also capped loans on land back when farmland was being bought at a fast rate. “There was a lot of ground in Nebraska selling for $10,000 an acre, for example, and we were capping loans on that at $5,000.” That forced growers to start ownership of that land with a higher equity situation than in previous land-buying sprees.Another challenge to the U.S. farm economy is just how much global competitors have hit their strides in recent years. Global wheat stocks were a record last year, and rice ending stocks are projected at a record this year. Global soybean beginning stocks, production and ending stocks all continue to rise, while corn production globally is expected to increase from 2017-18 and ending stocks are projected to be down 12% from the 2016-17 ending stocks as demand rises.“We are looking at tremendously rising supplies,” said Chad Hart, an associate professor of economics and crop markets specialist at Iowa State University. “Agriculture globally has just been on an incredible productivity run over the past several years. That has helped pull things along, but it also means prices can’t improve that much because there is just so much supply hanging in the market.”Hart said one reason delinquencies aren’t higher is banks have done their work and made sure not to loan out to operations seen as substantial risks. “Instead of letting that farmer go delinquent, they are cutting that farmer off before they offer that next loan,” Hart said. That leads to farmers having to either liquidate assets or give up portions of rented land, as Peiffer has seen in Iowa.Lower farm incomes have eroded the overall balance sheets, but they have disappeared from the rolls that normally gauge whether farmers are in trouble. Farmers struggling financially aren’t showing up in the delinquencies or bankruptcies yet, but they are looking at alternative lines of credit as a way to get by.“They are looking for ways to get by, even if that means going outside the traditional boundaries of what we would consider ag finance,” Hart said.Iowa is seeing an increase in calls to its hotline, but crop farmers have been able to push through the low prices with higher production.“For the most part, over the past few years, we have seen yields high enough that farmers have busheled their way through some of these financial issues over the past few years,” Hart said. “While things haven’t been great, they also haven’t been extremely bad, either. Farmers who were just getting by in 2016 have continued to get by 2017 and 2018.”Data on loans and other financial indicators are a “muddy mess,” and hiding some significant problems in agriculture, Hart said. “When we look at the industry averages, we look fine,” Hart said. “It’s hard to argue looking at the loan-repayment rates — we’re in good shape — debt-to-asset ratios across the industry are looking good, but when you burrow down into a region of the country, or a specific commodity itself, then you see there is a larger group of folks out there.”Some of those problems have been covered up by large production numbers, as well as the Market Facilitation Program payments. As of this week, USDA had paid just over $8 billion to farmers since the program begin last fall.While beef and pork producers have not been at the center of financial issues, there too, the immediate future holds peril. Jensen, at First National of Omaha, has a high number of cattle operations, particularly feed yards, in his lending territory. While profits have been relatively strong due to lower feeding costs, Jensen sees the potential for troubles, primarily related to the rough 2019 winter.“These feed yards are in rough shape with all the rain and snow. That pushes the cost of gains up,” as animals consume more calories to stay warm versus putting on pounds. Conception rates are predicted to be lower for cow/calf operations thanks to the long, cold, wet winter, decreasing sales and increasing carrying expenses for the cow herd.“Still, we have very few delinquent loans” among the bank’s cattle sector borrowers, Jensen said.Jensen agrees that relatively strong land prices have helped prop up the farm economy. He also credits farmers being more proactive in their financial and marketing dealings, rather than staying silent until they’re past the point of no return. “We’ve been hiring more CPAs and attorneys with expertise in financial and succession planning. We’re spending a lot more time advising families on those business and family plans, rather than simply being a lender.” The same efforts that help pass on successful operations can give early warnings of troubles ahead.Shan Hanes, president and CEO of Heartland Tri-State Bank in Elkhart, Kansas, said Kansas shows a strong moisture profile going into the spring. He’s been working with customers in his area who were struggling, such as those who lost a crop last summer and began working with the bank early to restructure loans. Hanes said he doesn’t think his bank has any customers in a crisis. “But what we are seeing is a loss of working capital position,” he said.Loss of working capital was a common concern at a meeting of agricultural and rural bankers last week, Hanes said.“They are making their term payments — their real-estate or machinery equipment payments — but it is coming at lower liquidity and creating a cash-flow crunch,” Hanes said.RESTRUCTURING RESTRICTEDA common move is to restructure operating loans into longer-term debt. “Sometimes restructuring is OK,” Hanes said. Restructuring can put cash back into an operation, but Hanes said regulators are scrutinizing refinancing. Without pointing to a specific regulator, Hanes said the pressure is on banks to minimize restructuring farmers who struggled to cover their operating loans, or are losing equity in the operation. Regulators need to realize the tactic doesn’t necessarily hurt the farm operation because interest on an operating loan is probably a higher rate than banks can offer real-estate. “By restructuring, we’re helping the producer on interest-rate expense and liquidity.”In his history, Hanes said when farmers get short on cash, they start making short-term decisions and may reduce expenses such as fertilizer applications or chemical application that could increase revenue with higher production.“We’re doing more restructurings more for liquidity than a stressed borrower-panic situation,” Hanes said. “I just want that message to get out to the world, and specifically to regulators, that this is a plan and it’s not a last-ditch effort.”Hanes indicated bank regulators are looking at farm loans, declaring them bad, and requiring foreclosure rather than giving the farmers and banker more flexibility. The ruling is “’Hey, you’ve got a bad loan here and you should have foreclosed.’ The guy has got equity; the guy has performed. The guy has got positive net worth. The guy is still at a long-term farm operator in the right direction. We just happened to land on a year the cash was not as good. Restructuring makes sense,” Hanes argues.For other farmers, restructuring is no longer an option, according to Buhler at Kansas Ag Mediation Services. He is increasingly seeing farmers who have restructured carryover debt or delinquent debt against assets, such as farmland.“Now, this year they are delinquent again and they don’t have any equity left to restructure against and an inability to make payments on their debt,” Buhler said.Once debt begins to exceed the value of assets, the decision is usually swift. “That makes it almost impossible sometimes to go to a lender and find a way to restructure if you have a negative net worth like that,” Buhler said.Such scenarios point out to Buhler that more farmers are facing greater financial jeopardy, and that carries over into more farm families dealing with stress. “Farmers just don’t know what to do and they are trying to determine priorities and which bills to pay, and how do they keep lights on and food on the table, even,” he said.CALLS FOR HELPWhen lenders say no, farmers often call Farm Aid offices for legal services, financial counseling or emotional support. Usually, those three issues are heavily intertwined. “Typically if a farmer is calling related to an emotional crisis, it’s related to financial or legal concerns,” Fahy said. “What we’ve seen in the doubling of calls is also an increase in the severity of calls that are coming in such that we are seeing calls from farmers who are in dire straits — some of them considering suicide.”Farm Aid staff have taken more training on how to spot the signs of people at risk of harming themselves and how to approach them. “So, from our standpoint, we are at a crisis and we don’t have the resources to properly address it.”For farmers facing no available cash, Farm Aid has some emergency grants to needs such as buying food, paying for emergency medical expenses, or keeping the power on. Most of the calls come from established farms, but they involve all kinds of commodities — crops, vegetables and livestock. “It’s really hard, and the calls are coming from farmers of all kinds,” Fahy said.Buhler said he has been doing this work for 30 years, but said it is tough to insulate himself when a farmer is crying on the other end of the line, “or a farm family is worried about feeding their kids. It is that type of thing where the stress is real and people are affected, and that’s what sometimes is glossed over by the big picture people are trying to take of this thing,” he said. “It may be a cycle, but nonetheless, people are trying to make a living out here.”Buhler added he has referred a few families this year to the national Farm Aid organization, which offers financial help and other assistance. Buhler noted that’s something he hasn’t had to do in several years.“So there are some real difficult situations out there,” Buhler said.Jensen said while the number of problem loans are ticking up, he credits a lot of good decisions in recent years to helping more farmers hold their heads above water.“While land values are off their peaks, they haven’t taken large drops, at least in our area. But the big help is that interest rates continue to be reasonable. Farmers are having losses, but the effects of that don’t compare when loans are at 5% to 6% versus (in the 1980s) when they were in the teens and up to 20%.”He said bankers also capped loans on land back when farmland was being bought at a fast rate. “There was a lot of ground in Nebraska selling for $10,000 an acre, for example, and we were capping loans on that at $5,000.” That forced growers to start ownership of that land with a higher equity situation than in previous land-buying sprees.DTN Editor-in-Chief Greg Horstmeier contributed to this report.Chris Clayton can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN(ES/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Minor details can lead to major issues when offering employee benefits

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseAt first it can seem like a very minor (yet complicated and costly) detail that may be better off ignored by employers. And, in many cases it can be inconsequential, until it is not.The potential for problems with this detail start, very simply, when an employer hires an employee and offers benefits, such as health insurance. When employees receive benefits, the employer is legally required to provide a Summary Plan Description (SPD) through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).On Oct. 1 of 2013 a notice went out through the Affordable Care Act to every employee in the U.S. informing them of the new options available. To be better informed, the notice instructed employees to consult their legally required SPD of workplace benefits. Guess what most employers did not have or had never even heard of before?In short, if an employee requests an SPD or the business is audited and the employer does not have it, this minor detail gets very consequential very quickly.“Every employer has to have a SPD for each employee for any health or welfare benefit that they provide. If you don’t have a SPD and it is requested in writing, all that employee has to do is turn you into the U.S. Department of Labor and, after 30 days, you have to pay a fine up to $114 per day until you provide the document,” said John Mayer with the Association Benefit Planners in Dublin. “The DOL starts an investigation and you get a letter from DOL about a full audit. If you don’t have the documents to produce, you have to figure out how to provide them. Most employers do not even know they need this. Then they don’t know who to call, so they call their lawyer. Then that gets expensive.”The specifics of the necessary SPD documents depend upon part-time or full time status, the particulars of the benefits offered and other factors.“This becomes an issue as soon as you have a full-time employee with benefits. The small employers are the hardest hit because they don’t know who to talk to about it. Where do you go as a small employer to find out about this?” Mayer said. “From our side, it can be a difficult discussion to get an employer to understand what they need. They don’t know what they don’t know. They tell us, ‘We’ll take our chances.’ But you as an employer are responsible for making sure this information gets to employees. A normal employer is not going to have any idea how to handle these things.”This is where folks like Clint Carter come in. Carter is retired and lives out of state, but for many years lived in Columbus and worked with businesses (including small Ohio agribusinesses) of all sizes to get them in compliance with federal acronyms aplenty, including ERISA. Carter admits that his services were not cheap or always pleasant to procure, but they very clearly beat the alternative.“If you can’t provide the SPD — a required document —now you have the Department of Labor involved with an audit, you have the IRS involved, and you have Health and Human Services involved,” Carter said. “They can all look for this Summary Plan Description.”To make matters even more confusing, many employers do have a Summary Benefits of Coverage document given to them by the benefits provider and think they have the situation covered, but they don’t.“In some cases, employers gave out the Summary Benefits of Coverage, which is not the Summary Plan Description. If they give out the SBC instead of the SPD and when that clock of 30 days is up, they literally could owe $114 a day until they are in compliance. Both the plan document and the Summary Plan Description must be furnished to the employees by the employer. The common mistake is that the employer thinks they are getting the documents from the carrier, which they are not. Carriers do not supply the federal ERISA documents. The employer can get them from third party administration firms or they can go to an ERISA attorney. One way or the other they need to obtain the documents,” Carter said. “If I hired you to work for me, and I offer health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability, short-term disability, and life insurance, each and every one of those has to have a document that is wrapped around it that has the ERISA language. Brokers go in and tell a small business owner that it would be great for them to put in benefits, which it is. But then they fail to help them realize that they have to be in compliance with the Department of Labor at the same time.”One way for employers to avoid this issue is to not offer any employee benefits, but that is not often a realistic or reasonable option.“At first, when employers hear about this they get upset and say they shouldn’t offer benefits, but in reality you should be offering benefits as an employer. Most employees today go to work not only for the salary but also for the benefits that are offered,” Carter said. “If you are not offering benefits, even if you only have 10 employees, all you are doing is training someone else’s employees because they will go work somewhere else that offers benefits. It is more expensive to train employees than it is to get these documents.”Of course, many employers who have employees with benefits never have an issue with ERISA compliance because they are never audited or no employee ever requests the documents. But Carter wants employers to understand the risks of non-compliance.“It is risk management. The increased scrutiny of the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of audits — I would say 60% of businesses get audited. Ohio is a huge state for audits, partly because it is a union state and partly because the Cincinnati region of the DOL looks at things more closely. I have had a three-person dental group get audited. I have worked with small employers in Ohio who have been audited multiple times by the DOL for their ERISA documents. One had 14 employees. That was 10 years ago and we have kept them in compliance since then,” Carter said. “Most brokers or CPAs will say that you are too small and you don’t have to worry about this, but this is an employer-plus-one law. Do you think the DOL would rather cut their teeth on small employers or large employers when they are training their own employees about ERISA?“My advice is that it is always cheaper to get in compliance than it is to pay the penalty. Whether you get in a wreck or not, you buy auto insurance every year. You also have homeowners insurance even in years where your house doesn’t burn down. Why would you not do risk management and make sure you have all of your documents? Most employers think this is inconsequential, but it can turn into something pretty major pretty fast.”For questions, contact Association Benefit Planners in Dublin at 614-527-6760.This is the fifth of a series of five stories in cooperation with the Ohio AgriBusiness Association highlighting human resource management solutions in Ohio agribusinesses.last_img read more

Going High-Tech With an Induction Cooktop

first_imgDrawbacks of induction cooktopsFerrous metal cooking vessels required. Aluminum, copper, and some stainless steel cookware won’t work, so buyers of induction cooktops may have to invest in new pots and pans. Use a magnet; if it sticks to the bottom of the pot, it will work on an induction cooktop. Fortunately, there are lots of options, including plenty that are reasonably affordable.High cost. While the cost of induction cooktops has dropped in the last few years, they are still pricey. We spent $1,400 on our 30-inch KitchenAid Architect Series II induction cooktop, and the list price of that model is $1,849. A comparable KitchenAid standard electric cooktop (non-induction) lists for $1,299. The high cost of induction today is partly because of the induction technology, and partly because induction is only available in the high-end product lines from appliance manufacturers. I think the cost will come down and induction gains popularity and spreads into lower-priced product lines.Health concerns? There is some concern that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) created by induction cooktops could be hazardous. I understand that the field drops off (attenuates) very quickly with distance from the cooktop, though I haven’t borrowed a gauss meter to actually measure EMFs from our cooktop. I haven’t read credible reports of health problems from induction cooking, but discovering a problem can’t be ruled out. What is induction?Without getting into too much physics, induction (electromagnetic induction), which was discovered in the early 1800s by Michael Faraday, is the process in which a circuit with alternating current (AC) flowing through it induces current in a material placed nearby. It is key to the functioning of induction (asynchronous) motors and most electric generators.In the case of induction cooking, there’s an electric coil under the glass surface of the cooktop through which AC electricity flows. This current, in turn, generates current in a ferrous metal (iron or steel) pan that’s very close to it (separated by the glass cooktop). Electromagnetic current flows through the bottom of the pan, but because iron and steel aren’t very good electrical conductors, that electric current is converted into heat. In physics lingo, that’s electric resistance heat (since the material resists the flow of electric current).The result is that the pan or skillet heats up and transfers that heat to whatever is being cooked. So, in effect, the pan becomes the heat source.If you have a rice cooker, you’re probably already using induction cooking, since that’s how most rice cookers work. So, for our new house we bought a KitchenAid induction cooktop for our kitchen island. I had wanted to go with the technology leader, Miele, but at about $2,500 for Miele’s 30-inch model, the cost was just too high for our budget. Even the much less expensive KitchenAid version stretched our budget considerably. Deciding on inductionWe were surprised back in the late ’80s how quickly we adjusted to an electric cooktop. It’s not as controllable as gas, but we made do just fine for 25 years. Nonetheless, friends always complained about electric cooktops being too slow or not controllable enough, so we wanted to try out the electric option that top chefs are increasingly turning to: induction. RELATED ARTICLES An Induction Cooktop for Our KitchenAll About Microwave OvensSaving Energy In the KitchenChoosing an Energy-Efficient RefrigeratorMakeup Air for Range HoodsEMFs and Human Health Advantages of induction cookingSpeed and controllability. Because the pan generates the heat directly, induction cooking is very fast — heating up immediately when turned on and cooling down immediately when the current is reduced or turned off. Heat output can be adjusted even more quickly than with gas burners.Energy efficiency. Induction cooktops are the most efficient of any option. According to a study done by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, gas cooktops are about 40% efficient, electric-coil and standard smooth-top electric cooktops are 74% efficient, and induction cooktops are 84% efficient (see Table 1.7, page 1-22). Before you get all excited, though, be aware that cooking accounts for less than 3% of average household energy consumption — so don’t expect an attractive payback for the extra cost of an induction cooktop!Less waste heat. Another aspect of that energy efficiency is greater summertime comfort. We’ve only been in our house for a couple months so haven’t used it in hot weather (that’s for sure!), but a friend who has an induction cooktop raves about the summertime benefit of not heating up his kitchen as much as he used to with a gas cooktop.Safety. Induction cooktops, like other electric cooking elements, avoid combustion and gas lines, so are inherently safer than gas burners. But induction cooktops go further, dropping a piece of paper on a cooktop that’s on can’t cause a fire. In fact, as shown in the photo, you can cook with a piece of paper between the cooktop and the pot (though doing so probably isn’t a good idea). The electromagnetic induction happens through the paper.center_img Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. The bottom lineI like our induction cooktop a lot. I’ve only had one frustrating experience: the time last month when I set out to make a big batch of chili for an office gathering and discovered that the largest of the skillets in our cookware set doesn’t work with induction elements, even though all the others do. I’m assuming that because the diameter of that pan is so large, the manufacturer used a disk of aluminum or copper, rather than steel, to conduct the heat to the edges more evenly.Overall, my wife and I are very pleased with induction, though it does take some getting used to. We got a rimless model, and the black ceramic-glass surface blends in quite well with the black Richlite countertop material. One of our early decisions in the planning for our farmhouse renovation/re-build was to avoid any fossil fuels. If the State of Vermont can have a goal to shift 90% of our energy consumption to renewable sources by 2050, we should be able to demonstrate 100% renewables for our house today.That decision meant using electricity, rather than propane, for cooking. Electric cooking was actually a very easy decision for us. Roughly 25 years ago, when our daughters were very young, my wife and I replaced our gas range with a smooth-top electric range. I had read too many articles about health risks of open combustion in houses; I didn’t want to expose our children to those combustion products.And I knew that even the best outside-venting range hoods don’t remove all of the combustion products generated when cooking with gas.last_img read more

‘I won’t quit that easily:’ After hurting ankle, Eya Laure vows to return for UAAP Finals Game 3

first_imgLaure was able to return to the game late in the third set with UST trailing 21-19.That hurting ankle, however, limited her at the start with her first attempt going straight to the net.Laure was able to tally 10 points but she eventually subbed out of the match with UST trailing 23-13 in the fourth set.“There’s pain, but I don’t really think of it that much,” said Laure. “There are people who motivate me and I know this is just a hurdle for me to overcome.”“There will be a Game 3 and for me this challenge will make me stronger. I won’t quit that easily.”ADVERTISEMENT Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew MOST READ Read Next LATEST STORIES June Mar Fajardo sets PBA mark, bags Philippine Cup Finals MVP award PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparc Season 81’s top rookie rolled her left ankle at the start of the third set after landing on Kat Tolentino’s right foot and had to be carried out by her father Eddie to the UST locker room for treatment.Although Laure was able to come back, her limited play proved detrimental for UST as the Lady Eagles took Game 2, 26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15, to tie the series at one game apiece.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“When they took me out of the game earlier, I couldn’t believe that I will be subbed out because I said to myself that I will do anything for the championship,” said Laure in Filipino Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.“When daddy carried me, I told him that I would come back. I tried everything to come back but I couldn’t handle the pain much longer. But you can count on me to come back for Game 3.” Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport View comments Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess MANILA, Philippines—Eya Laure is confident she can get back on floor for University of Santo Tomas just in time for Game 3 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball finals.ADVERTISEMENT Duterte wants probe of SEA Games messlast_img read more