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first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. — Buster Posey has struggled in April before, but he’s never struggled quite like this.After undergoing August hip surgery to repair a microfracture, Posey is hitting just .200 with a .291 slugging percentage through his first 16 games following an extensive rehabilitation process.Despite consistently batting in the middle of the Giants lineup, Posey has driven in just one run thus far and admitted Wednesday he is disappointed in his early offensive results.“It’s a challenge …last_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Chris ClaytonDTN Ag Policy EditorWASHINGTON (DTN) — A group of Senate Democrats released a report Tuesday on the Trump administration’s agricultural trade aid program, charging USDA “is picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers affected by President Trump’s turbulent trade agenda.”Led by Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the report stated Market Facilitation Program payments were unevenly distributed across the country.The report states USDA’s MFP “has treated farmers unfairly by, among other things, sending 95% of the top payment rates to Southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires as well as foreign-owned companies, including awarding $90 million in purchase contracts to a Brazilian company.”The MFP was set up last year after the Trump administration vowed farmers would not be hurt by trade disputes with China and other countries that had sparked retaliatory tariffs.Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, spearheaded the report.FARMERS NEED HELP“Farmers need help to stay afloat as this administration’s erratic trade actions continue to harm our agricultural economy,” Stabenow said. “The problem is USDA’s flawed aid formula is a short-term solution that picks winners and losers, while failing to adequately help the farms hit the hardest.”In a letter delivering the report to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the senators wrote, “Instead of taking a careful approach like Congress did in the recent bipartisan 2018 farm bill, the USDA has replaced markets with short-term, inequitable payouts that lack transparency.”The senators urged Perdue “to improve its trade assistance program to better support small farmers and pursue a focused trade policy to rebuild the markets American farmers have lost.”The letter states farmers in the Midwest and Northern Plains were hit with lower national soybean prices and higher transportation costs to reach different markets after the Trump administration began its tariff disputes with trading partners, notably China.HIGH PAYMENTS TO COTTON AREASThe report states Southern crops such as cotton did not have a price decline, but they received much higher payment rates “and the top five states for 2019 MFP are in the South.”Senate Democrats questioned the high payments to cotton-producing areas, noting, “During 2018, cotton prices and exports did not exhibit the sharp declines one would assume based on cotton’s payment rate.”As of last week, USDA stated the MFP payments for the 2019 program had reached just under $6.7 billion to more than 564,000 farmers.In a statement to DTN, a USDA spokesperson defended how the MFP payments for 2019 were set up and were being distributed. Payments were based on trade damage, not region or farm size, a USDA spokesperson stated. Further, payments were more weighted to the Midwest and not the South, USDA stated.USDA RESPONSE“To date, the Midwest region has received more than 60% of the funds and the top five recipient states from the 2019 MFP program are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota, which directly refutes the claims made in this report,” the USDA spokesperson stated. “While we appreciate feedback on this program, the fact of the matter is that USDA has provided necessary funding to help farmers who have been impacted by unjustified retaliatory tariffs. While criticism is easy to come up with, we welcome constructive feedback from any member of Congress with recommendations as to how the program could be better administered.”The Senate Democrats’ report points out that farmers in 2,901 counties have received MFP payments, but there are 193 counties with payment rates of $100 an acre or higher. The vast majority of those counties — 95% — are in Southern states, according to the report. Another 402 counties received the minimum $15 an acre.COUNTY DIFFERENCESThe Democrats’ report points out, “The disparities across county lines, even the Southern states, can be extreme.” Hancock County, Georgia, farmers, for example, received an average payment of $150 an acre, while farmers in neighboring Baldwin County got $15 an acre.Senate Democrats also called out “payments made to billionaires and foreign-owned companies,” which includes $90 million in pork sales for JBS, a Brazilian-owned packer with packing plants in several states. JBS was awarded those sales under a $1.2 billion food purchase program USDA created as part of its trade-aid package.Along with that, the report highlights USDA did not take steps to help smaller or beginning farmers, but instead doubled the payment limit from $125,000 per farmer to $250,000. Limits on millionaires getting farm payments were also ignored, Senate Democrats said, citing that “The family-owned farms of the billionaire governor of West Virginia even earned the maximum payment under the 2018 MFP.”The Senate Democrats’ report comes after House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., also wrote Perdue last week, raising some concerns about “inequities” in the MFP payments.Peterson’s letter stated, “The current (MFP) has created winners and losers among neighbors who find themselves facing the same market situations, meaning that some producers may remain viable while others may be forced out of business.”Peterson raised several issues with the payments. For instance, dairy farmers also question why MFP payments were based on established farm production history, while crop were based on actual production. The letter noted dairy farmers’ actual production is readily available via their milk checks.The Senate Democrats’ report can be viewed at https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/….Chris Clayton can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN(AG/ES)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

first_imgRelated Posts A few days ago, we got a chance to talk about the state of blogging and social media in Germany with Marcel Weiß, the editor of Netzwertig.com – one of Germany’s most popular blogs. In the interview, Weiß told us that Germany is at least five years behind the U.S. when it comes to social media and its adoption by a larger part of society. Blogs are still considered to be suspect by a large part of the German public and have very little influence, and social news sites and aggregators attract very little attention. With regards to Germany’s Internet startup scene, Weiß argues that, with very few exceptions, most companies are also years behind the U.S. and just aren’t innovative enough to compete.Blogging in Germany: Five Years BehindWeiß argues that blogging and social media adoption in Germany is far behind similar trends in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Blogs are still considered suspect and have almost no influence over local or national politics. The mainstream media still likes to describe the Internet as a dangerous place, full of malware, porn, and scammers. While regular newspapers in Germany have also started to feel the pressure from the Internet (and every major German paper has a web site), the absence of a successful Craigslist-type site in the country has given the newspapers a longer lease on life than in America.Unlike the U.S., no political blog has the influence of American sites like DailyKos or Talking Points Memo, though a recent (and misguided) move by German politicians to censor the Internet in Germany in order to combat child pornography led over 130,000 German Internet users to sign a petition against this plan and galvanized the German Internet community in an unprecedented way. It remains to be seen, though, if this sudden rise in Internet activism in Germany will have legs, or if it will just fizzle out quickly. While political blogs in the U.S. also got a push during the Bush years when mainstream media outlets were generally seen as too close to the administration, German news outlets did not suffer from a similar pushback and most Germans still generally trust the mainstream media’s reporting and equate blogging with excessive over-sharers who write Internet diaries about their German Shepherds.In a post that created quite a stir in the German blogosphere (with a focus on blogging about economics), Felix Salmon argued that Germany’s culture was basically the antithesis of what blogging is all about. If this is true, then maybe there is really little hope for blogging in Germany in the near future, but at the same time, there are also a number of news blogs that are doing quite well (Netzwertig is one of them), and there are a lot of passionate German bloggers who are trying to change the current negative perception of blogs. The Absence of Social NewsUnlike in the U.S., the German blogosphere also doesn’t have large social news sites like Digg or Reddit to bring readers to blogs. With Yigg.de Germany has its own Digg clone, but it’s not only hampered by a rather unpleasant design, but even the top stories there hardly get more than 20 votes. In addition, a headline on Yigg or similar services like Webnews.de barely drives any traffic to a site.With regards, to blog monetization, things obviously also look equally bleak. Weiß told us that most companies still don’t quite get that they could find a very targeted audience on blogs – but of course, the fact that blogs are still struggling to find a large enough readership doesn’t exactly help matters here.StartupsTo some degree, the same is also true for the German startup scene, where, as Weiß argued, too many companies simply try to copy popular concepts that were developed elsewhere. The prime example for this is obviously StudiVZ, a blatant Facebook clone. Yet, while StudiVZ was able to quickly grow in Germany while Facebook was still ignoring most of the market outside of America, development of the site has now mostly come to a standstill and while Facebook is turning itself into a platform, the team behind StudiVZ has no interest in making any platform play whatsoever. Indeed, as Weiß told us, very few German startups are actually interested in the platform business and providing APIs for developers is still seen as unnecessary.That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting and successful German startups, of course. Xing is a good example for a service that gets things right, and SoundCloud, a very cool music service based in Berlin is another one (though the founders are actually from Sweden). It’s important to note, though, that Germany never really had much of a startup scene and that there are a lot of cultural and bureaucratic barriers that would hold even some of the most determined founders from starting their own businesses. Outlook: Bleak – But With a Silver LiningThere are multiple reasons why blogging in Germany just isn’t taking off, but there is a chance that things might turn around this year. The upcoming election in Germany, for example, will give political blogs a chance to shine, especially if they manage to capitalize on the current discussion around Internet censorship. And while Twitter isn’t quite a mainstream phenomenon yet, the discussion around its use in Iran during the current controversy around the elections there, also brought Twitter into the spotlight in Germany.A number of Germany newspapers have also started to run blogs on their own sites, and with Rivva.de, the German blogosphere also has a very interesting meme-tracker that looks and feels similar to Techmeme and Memeorandum, and which provides a central focal point for the German blogosphere.Of course, in a piece like this, we can only touch upon a small number of examples and have to rely on some sweeping generalizations. Feel free to take issue with our (and Marcel’s) assessment of the German Internet scene and leave a comment.CC-Licensed image used courtesy of Flickr user Will Palmer. 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first_imgIndian boxers had some contrasting results on Friday night and Saturday. It was absurd to see Vikas Krishan initially winning the bout against American Errol Spence and then losing it after the decision was overturned by the AIBA judges’ panel.But Laishram Devendro’s prequarterfinal victory over 2009 world champion and Beijing Olympic silver medallist, Serdamba Purevdorj of Mongolia, brought some cheer to the Indian contingent.Since it is the AIBA panel, which has overturned Vikas’s result, and India’s protest has also been turned down, the decision can’t be questioned. But the worst part in the whole incident was the role of the referee present in the ring during the bout.According to the AIBA panel, Vikas had committed many fouls which the referee didn’t notice. But my point is if a referee is eligible enough to stand in an Olympic bout, how can he be so ignorant? How can he overlook so many things? I think he had no right to stand there and should be suspended for this kind of performance.Can you imagine the psychological condition of the boxer who is declared the winner in an Olympic bout and then suddenly told that he has lost? For Vikas, the four-year long Olympic dream was shattered within moments.But kudos to Devendro for the quality game he displayed against a world champion. The coaches must have told him to maintain a big lead throughout the bout, especially after Vikas’s result. With his electrifying movements and lightning punches, he had a lead of three points after the second round. It was a treat to watch Devendro made and his natural style of attacking game has so far been a nightmare for his opponents. I think he should continue his natural game in the bouts to come.advertisementIndian boxers should also take lessons from Vikas and Sumit Sangwan’s defeats. Those who are still in the fray, should make it a point to maintain a good lead. And for it, they should play their natural game.(Mohammad Ali Qamar is a 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist)last_img read more