Vermont agriculture officials commend USDA secretary for creating Dairy Advisory

first_imgUS Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that USDA will establish a Dairy Advisory Committee and is requesting nominations to the committee. This committee will review key issues impacting the dairy industry and generate additional ideas about how USDA can help struggling producers. I have been working jointly with my counterparts in New England and the Northeast including New York and Pennsylvania to encourage USDA to put a dairy advisory committee in place over the past few months, said Vermont agriculture secretary Roger Allbee. We are extremely pleased that he has taken this step. The Obama Administration is committed to working with all sectors of the dairy industry to develop changes to the dairy pricing system to avoid the boom and bust cycle behind the crisis facing many dairy farmers this year, said Vilsack. The input provided by the members of this committee will play an important role in building a more stable market for dairy producers for years to come.Earlier this month, Secretary Vilsack promised to move forward with establishment of a charter creating the committee for two years. Once appointed, the committee will review the issues of farm milk price volatility, and dairy farmer profitability. The committee will also offer suggestions and ideas on how USDA can best address these issues to meet the dairy industry s needs. USDA is establishing the committee under the authority of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972. We know that the milk pricing system in the U.S. is antiquated and broken. It doesn t serve our current market and allows for volatile price swings that are hurting farmers, consumers, communities and rural economies, said Allbee. To make the changes necessary to address this problem we need action at the federal level and we need collaboration from all dairy states.The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint up to 15 representatives of the dairy industry to serve in an advisory capacity on the Committee. Representatives will include: producers and producer organizations, processors and processor organizations, handlers, consumers, academia, retailers, and state agencies involved in organic and non-organic dairy at the local, regional, national and international levels.Written nominations must be received on or before September 28, and should be sent to Judith Lindsay, secretary to Brandon Willis, Deputy Administrator, Farm Service Agency, Farm Programs, USDA Room 3612-S, Stop 0501, Washington, D.C. 20250-0501; faxed to (202) 720-4726; or e-mailed to: judith.lindsay@wdc.usda.gov(link sends e-mail).Advisory committee members will elect the chairperson and vice-chairperson who will each serve a two-year term. As Deputy Administrator of the FSA Farm Programs, Willis will serve as the committee s executive secretary.Details will be published in the August 28 Federal Register. More information on the committee is available at www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/DairyAdvisoryCommittee(link is external). Source: Vermont Ag Deptlast_img read more

Key methods to effectively measure your credit card acquisition campaigns

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Aris Jerahian Aris is the AVP of Card Services at Orange County’s Credit Union.  A payment industry executive with more than 15 years of credit, debit portfolio management, consulting and operational … Web: www.orangecountyscu.org Details Credit unions that want and need to grow their credit card business, and even sustain it, need to continuously generate leads. But they can’t rely on lead generation alone. It’s also about evaluating how well key business objectives are achieved and measuring the effectiveness of each campaign. For several years now, we’ve seen an increase in time and resources invested in data analytics. With access to so much consumer information, we find ourselves generating more reports than ever to better understand our members’ behavior and purchase patterns, sometimes getting so granular to the point we may even know the type of coffee they drink. Analytics has helped us make better, more informed decisions, promote appropriate solutions, and offer personalized products. However, generating reports and understanding what to do with them are two separate challenges. With any successful credit card campaign, it is critical to have an acquisition plan to generate the leads and/or new business. When all the data analytics are in place, always consider these questions: How am I tracking my acquisition performance? Do I have the correct key performance indicators (KPI) to measure acquisition performance? It’s important to review these questions on a regular basis or when you have a running acquisition campaign in place. Without the appropriate KPIs, your credit union might be reporting and making decisions based on misleading information. At minimum, a best practice is to measure the overall response rate (number of applications received /number mailed or emailed). Response rates are the first step in understanding how your members take action (or lack thereof) on your message and tracking those indicators will provide you with important baseline data to then help you assess the effectiveness of your lead-generating strategies. As you explore more ways to track the effectiveness of your campaigns, the KPIs listed below can give you a deeper insight on the overall campaign: Direct Mail Response Rate – Number of applications received /number of mailed Approval Rate – Number of approved accounts /number of applications Cost per Account – Total cost of campaign/number of new accounts Cost per Active Account – Total cost of campaign/number of active accounts Online Marketing Click-Through Rate – Number of clicks on a call to action/number of impressions Impressions – Number of times an ad is viewed Email Open Rate – Number of email opens/total number of emails sent Abandonment Rate – Number of applications abandoned/total number of applications A usage feedback loop is also necessary to review ongoing results and to enhance your acquisition strategy. Remember, a new account that has not activated their card and/or isn’t using their card is a lost opportunity for revenue and for future acquisitions. Keep these KPIs in mind when you’re evaluating the effectiveness of your campaign: Feedback Loop Activation Rate – number of new accounts activated/number of new accounts opened Usage Rate – number of new accounts active/number of new accounts A tip: don’t overlook the opportunity to learn from those that interacted with your campaign. This can be accomplished by post-campaign surveys and focus groups. By asking and receiving confirmation directly from your members, you can validate that your strategy is working. This is also helpful for improvement as any critical feedback helps to reaffirm the need to further test and explore different ways to approach future acquisition strategies. Again, it’s more than running reports and gathering the feedback – you have to learn and apply your members’ comments, suggestions, or dissatisfactions to your processes to continually improve your campaigns. With any campaign, acquisition KPIs are a valid way to evaluate the impact of any kind of marketing activity to generate and/or open new credit card accounts. By leveraging this, you not only take your financial performance monitoring to the next level, but you keep a finger on the pulse of what your membership wants and needs. But never stop there – use that information “gold” to tailor your products, services, and objectives to remain top of members’ minds, maximize growth, and succeed in accomplishing your goals. last_img read more

Former CU employee faces October sentencing for theft

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A former credit union employee will be sentenced in October after he admitted to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from members, including one who died three years ago.Bradley J. Hampton, 37, a former financial services officer for the $1.7 billion Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union in Honolulu, pleaded guilty to one felony count of bank fraud in U.S. District Court last week.In exchange for his guilty plea, federal prosecutors dropped four other bank fraud charges and one aggravated ID theft charge, court documents show.From February 2017 to June 2018, Hampton admitted that he accessed accounts of three members and forged their signatures to steal more than $9,000 from one account that belonged to a member who died in 2016 and more than $8,000 from another member’s account.Hampton also stole nearly $60,000 from a member’s trust accounts. continue reading »last_img read more

Passover on Zoom: Jewish leaders split on digital Seders

first_imgBut the app and similar tools that have connected people through the pandemic have created divisions among Jewish leaders. Passover, an eight-day holiday that marks the Jewish people’s biblical exodus from Egypt, begins Wednesday evening with a Seder, one of the most important events of the year for Jews. A typical Seder involves large gatherings of relatives crowded around a table, who recount the Exodus story through song and prayer while sharing a multi-course meal.  The Jewish holiday of Passover has long inspired intense debate, with favorite topics including whether Moses actually parted the Red Sea or if the Ten Plagues were an ethical response to enslavement.But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, a previously unthinkable question has consumed Jewish debate less than a week before the holiday starts: is it permissible to hold the traditional Seder meal over Zoom?The videoconferencing application has emerged as an essential tool during a crisis that has confined people across the globe in their homes.  Are digital Seders kosher? Israel, which has more than 6,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases, has banned people from straying more than 100 meters from their homes except for essential activities. A wealthy benefactor floated the idea of donating 10,000 computers to confined elderly people, allowing them to join loved ones in digital Seders. He asked a group of Orthodox rabbis from the Sephardic tradition, which is rooted in southern Europe and North Africa, to assess if the plan was consistent with halacha, or Jewish law. Rabbi Rephael Delouya, one of the 13-member panel that studied the issue, told AFP the answer was “easy”. Digital Seders were permissible to alleviate loneliness that isolated elderly people were experiencing during the pandemic. “Loneliness can lead to a weaker mind, which causes lower immunity,” Delouya said.”Mental health and physical health are connected.” The Sephardic rabbis also issued a formal ruling, or posek, declaring that conferencing apps like Zoom could be used in an “emergency” to aid the “elderly” and the “sick”.It could “give them motivation to continue fighting for their lives and to prevent them from falling into depression” the ruling said. Delouya said the decision was based on guidance from “wise” Sephardic leaders, who more than 50 years ago approved the use of certain forms of electricity, like an oven light, on Jewish holidays.They were later overruled by Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz of the Ashkenazi tradition of eastern Europe, whose guidance against using electricity on holidays prevailed across the Orthodox world.  ‘I don’t bend’ Israel’s chief rabbis — the Ashkenazi leader David Lau and the Sephardic Yitzhak Yosef — pushed back against the videoconferencing decision. “Loneliness is painful and we must respond to it, perhaps by having a video conference on the eve of the holiday before it begins, but not by desecrating the holiday,” they wrote.  An expert in Orthodox movements at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, Kimmy Caplan, told AFP the debate hinged on tensions Judaism has faced previously when Orthodox rabbis confront social challenges. “Overall, the Orthodox stance on many issues is that we don’t (adjust) for social issues… when they contradict the letter of the law,” Caplan said. The typical response from Orthodox rabbis is, “I don’t bend my legal system because of a social situation,” he added. A similar tension between social reality and Jewish law divided Orthodox and Conservative leaders in the US in the 1950s.As American Jews moved to suburbs, and therefore further away from their synagogues, it became imperative for many to use cars on Shabbat. Conservative rabbis decided the need to preserve Jewish life justified the use of cars, while Orthodox rabbis held firm in opposition, Caplan said. center_img Topics :  ‘Turning point’ Jerusalem resident Sabrina Castro-Moise told AFP she will use videoconferencing on Seder night next week to connect with her 76-year-old mother, who lives nearby. “We spend all the holidays together,” she said. Zoom will ensure her mother is not alone on Passover, “while being consistent with what [the panel of Sephardic] rabbis said”, she added. Michael Lev, a 44-year-old businessman agreed that the decision by the rabbis to allow Zoom was “humane”.”What’s the purpose of the [Seder] ritual if you practice it alone?” he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in quarantine after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19, urged the country late Wednesday to only have Seders “with the nuclear family that is with you now”.Passover, he said, could be a “turning point” in Israel’s battle against COVID-19 if precautions are followed. last_img read more

For Balkan Roma, hunger is the first curse of coronavirus

first_imgInside a dark shack outside Albania’s capital, 18-year-old Mirela tries to soothe her newborn with the only food she has: a can of powdered milk scrounged from a rubbish bin. “But what to do after that?” the young mother asks, as she cradles her baby in the ramshackle home she shares with a dozen others on the outskirts of Tirana. For Mirela and hundreds of thousands of other Roma living in slums across the Western Balkans, the first symptom of the coronavirus pandemic has been hunger. “We know that [the bottles] can carry the virus but there’s nothing we can do,” said Mirela’s mother-in-law, Lindita Vogli. “Poverty forces you to try everything.” Exposed While the virus infects rich and poor alike, its deadly march has exposed the globe’s inequities, revealing how safety measures like social distancing, regular hand-washing and teleworking are privileges only some can enjoy.  In the Balkans, a long history of discrimination has spun Roma and other minorities into cycles of poverty, making them especially vulnerable to the virus and its economic shock.With education gaps and prejudice closing off many job opportunities, the vast majority of Roma work informally, in waste sorting, as day laborers or in brass bands in the street.Over the past month, these “grey zone” jobs and meagre wages have vanished.In Suto Orizari, one of the region’s largest Roma neighborhoods outside the North Macedonia capital Skopje, the normally bustling market of cheap clothes and goods that sustains the community has gone dark.”These people are at both health and humanitarian risk,” said Dragan Gracanin, who leads an organization for coordinating Roma initiatives in Serbia. “If they are hungry they will be forced to get out and work, and therefore be exposed to infection.” Curfews and other lockdown measures have wiped out income for families who live hand-to-mouth, often by selling scraps of plastic and metal scavenged from bins. Now that business is on hold, piles of waste are festering in Mirela’s neighborhood, shrouding it in a putrid odor.”Everything is blocked, we don’t have anywhere to sell [the recyclables] and for food we also have to go through the garbage to find something to eat, like pasta and rice,” said 15-year-old Vanesa Lika, another teenage mother living in the shantytown in Breglumas.The community of around 40 Roma are still going out daily to collect bottles and cans in hopes that business will soon resume — even though they fear contamination from rummaging through other people’s waste.  Bread and yoghurt Many Roma communities are also cramped and crowded, making social distancing all but impossible. “How can someone self-isolate if he is squatting in a two-room shack with 12 other members of his family?” asked Bashkim Ibishi, who leads the NGO Advancing Together, which works with Roma and other marginalized groups in Kosovo.Outside Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, one Roma father of 10 recently tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken to hospital. Police are now guarding the community around the clock, while hundreds of families inside are subsisting on a daily ration of two loaves of bread and two liters of yoghurt provided by the Red Cross.They have also received some other aid packages of flour, canned food, cabbage and hygiene products, all of which are thinly spread across large families. “I am grateful for any aid, but two loaves of bread and two liters of yoghurt is not enough,” said Sahu Sefani, a 41-year-old father of seven. Like most of his neighbors, Sefani used to eke out a living by reselling recyclables or other goods picked out from the city’s garbage.Robbed of that income, debts have piled up, with some families unable to pay water and electricity bills until the state recently stepped in.For now though, the most pressing need is hunger.But should the virus extend its reach, there is concern about how a lifetime of deprivation, plus barriers to medical care, have weakened the overall health and immunity of those on society’s bottom rung.”If you don’t have sufficient means to provide for your family,” it means “less vitamins, less everything” on the kitchen table, said Ibishi.”And this makes you more vulnerable.” No water The virus has killed more than 250 people and infected nearly 10,000 in the Western Balkans, one of Europe’s poorest regions.Although there are no reliable statistics, the World Bank estimates Roma could make up between 700,000 and 1.3 million of the region’s population. While responses to the virus have varied by country, in some places it has taken weeks for emergency food and hygienic aid to arrive in desperate Roma communities. For the very poorest, even the most basic precautions — such as hand-washing — can be a struggle.”We look in the garbage bins for cans or bottles of soap and we fill them with water to wash our hands,” Lika told AFP, as she tried to calm a coughing baby. Less than half of Roma in Albania have piped water at home, according to a UN survey.  In Serbia, one of the more developed countries in the Balkans, more than 5,300 Roma families have reported a lack of access to clean drinking water, while two thirds of homes are not connected to a sewerage system. Faced with coronavirus concerns, local authorities in Serbia have only recently organized the installation of water tanks in the worst-off neighborhoods after urgent calls from activists. 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LHV Pension Funds, Swedbank Estonia invest in Karma Ventures

first_imgLHV Pension Funds Estonia (LHV) and Swedbank Estonia Pension Funds (SEPF) have invested in Karma Ventures, the €40m European early-stage venture capital firm.Karma Ventures, based in Estonia and domiciled in Luxembourg, focuses on European Series A investment opportunities.It will invest in companies using unique technologies to develop IT products and services with a large addressable market, and that have already demonstrated the ability to attract customer interest before a full product rollout.It is managed by Margus Uudam, Tommi Uhari and Kristjan Laanemaa. Uudam and Laanemaa previously worked together managing Ambient Sound Investments’s global venture capital portfolio.Ambient Sound was created to manage the stake in telecoms start-up Skype held by its four founding engineers, and subsequently to invest the proceeds of its sale.Two of the founding engineers of Skype are exclusive advisers to the new fund.The key investors in Karma Ventures are Ambient Sound Investments and the Baltic Innovation Fund, an initiative created between the three Baltic republics and the European Investment Fund (EIF).Several pension funds and family offices are also investors.LHV – the second-largest pension fund manager in Estonia – has committed €5m to the fund, out of assets under management of €550m.It has an average 20-30% invested in Baltic countries in its fixed income portfolios and up to 50% of assets in funds with exposure to stock markets and alternative assets. LHV currently holds multiple positions in private equity funds, invested in the Baltics and Balkans.Kristo Oidermaa,
 portfolio manager at LHV Asset Management, told IPE: “The EIF has recently helped to set up new managers in the Baltics, and we have become a key investor in some of those funds.“Over the past decade, a large number of IT companies and start-ups have emerged from the Baltics and found recognition on the international stage. This has created a knowledgeable community of specialists here.“Karma Ventures offers a perfect way to invest into this trend, as its team includes people who have helped to establish, manage and also exit some of those success stories.” Meanwhile, Karma is the first venture capital investment for SEPF.Kristjan Tamla, chief executive at Swedbank Investment Funds in Estonia, told IPE: “We decided to commit to the fund mainly because of the very coherent and professional investment proposal the team put forward.“Although it is a first-time team, the key people possess a wide and strong experience in venture capital investments. Each person in the team has their own clear role and a different angle in adding value.”He said the commitments from experienced private equity/venture capital investors like the EIF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also helped in building SEPF’s confidence.Tamla said that, in a small country like Estonia, private equity/venture capital investments were not considered to be an asset-allocation decision.“Because quality investment managers are scarce, it is more an instrument-selection decision,” he said.“We are always happy to discuss good private equity/venture capital business proposals from the region. Since Karma is our first venture capital investment, it will definitely be a steep learning curve for us throughout the – hopefully successful – lifetime of the fund.”Karma Ventures expects to close a second funding by the end of 2016.last_img read more

Desperate Millennials take on ghosts to get on property ladder

first_imgAbout 40 per cent of people believe they’ve lived in a haunted house.A WHOPPING 40 per cent of people believe they’ve lived in a haunted house, with over half “hearing strange noises” — but that’s not enough to stop desperate Millennials buying a ghost house if it’s cheap.New research shows Millennials desperate to get a foot on the property ladder will even share haunted houses with ghosts if the price is right.It found that while older buyers won’t take on a haunted house no matter how low the price or how big the kitchen, for Millennials having a friendly — or even unfriendly ghost — is not a stumbling block at all. A lower price tag will persuade Millennials to buy a haunted house. However, they do need to have a good sweetener to the deal, according to the annual Realtor.com Haunted Real Estate Report.A whopping 18 per cent of buyers would not even blink if the house they could afford was haunted, while 17 per cent of spooked Millennials would even throw aside all fears over a haunted house if the price tag was lowered, it found.“In a competitive market, it’s harder for prospective buyers to be extremely selective,” Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale said.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus16 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market16 hours ago“If a house is commensurately priced, or has desirable features, the fact that it may be haunted seems to matter less. This report shows that, for those looking for a good deal, a lower price, better neighbourhood, or larger kitchen can balance out a few spooky happenings.” For the third of people who said they’d buy a haunted house for “something more” in the deal, sweeteners included a cheaper home price (15 per cent), a larger kitchen and better neighbourhood (both 9 per cent each). Around 49 per cent of those surveyed agreed “there’s no price low enough or kitchen large enough to make them purchase a haunted home”.‘The older generation of home buyers is the most reluctant to move into a haunted house,” it found, with 61 per cent of those over 55 insisting that they would never buy a haunted home as opposed to 41 per cent of millennials and Gen X’ers”.center_img FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK Nothing will persuade the majority of older buyers from buying a ghost house.last_img read more

Modern coastal home built for entertaining

first_imgThe home at 1 Landsborough Ave, Scarborough. Picture: supplied.THIS modern home was built for family living and poolside entertaining. Owners Suzanne and Andrew Parker bought the property at 1 Landsborough Ave, Scarborough in 2009. “It had a little cottage, which we lived in for three years, and seven years ago we knocked it down and rebuilt,” Mrs Parker said. When it came to the new home the Parkers wanted to take advantage of the sea breezes and waterfront views while creating a private entertainer’s home built around a huge swimming pool. The kitchen has a servery to the poolside entertaining area. Picture: supplied. MORE NEWS: This is what a $1.5M renovation looks like Would you swim in a skip bin? Sky high penthouse with sea viewscenter_img “For us it was all about entertaining family and friends and having that open-plan, indoor-outdoor living,” Mrs Parker said.“We wanted a parent’s retreat with double sized everything – the ensuite, the shower, the spa bath.“We also needed a theatre room and a garage that could house our 22ft Bowrider with trailer.” Set across two levels, the home has a lounge with cocktail bar and an open-plan kitchen and dining space opening to the poolside patio. The kitchen has a walk-in pantry and servery to the outdoor space. The master ensuite has a double spa, double shower and double basins. Picture: supplied.“I love that the kitchen is quite big and open so when you’re entertaining you’re still engaging with people around the pool area,” Mrs Parker said. More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus11 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market11 hours agoA triple garage, laundry and powder room complete the downstairs area, while outside the patio wraps around the huge magnesium swimming pool.“The alfresco area is probably my favourite part of the home. You feel like you’re in a resort when you’re out there,” Mrs Parker said. The living area has a built-in cocktail bar. Picture: supplied.Upstairs the spacious master suite includes a walk-in wardrobe, a balcony and an ensuite with double spa bath, separate toilet and double shower.There is also a family bathroom, a living room and three bedrooms with a balcony to one on this level.The home is on a fenced 400sq m block a short walk to the foreshore, restaurants and shops. The property is on the market through Clinton Viertel of Belle Property Redcliffe.last_img read more

Pirates Foiled in Stealing Oil from Product Tanker off Malaysia

first_imgThai-flagged product tanker MGT 1 was boarded on September 6 by a group of pirates who tried to take the ship’s oil cargo while the vessel was underway from Rayong port, Thailand to the Andaman Sea.The incident that took place east of Kuala Dungun, West Malaysia involved 13 armed perpetrators who approached the tanker in two small fast boats, Asia’s piracy watchdog ReCAAP said.The men boarded the tanker and forced the crew to transfer one million litres of diesel oil (out of 2.2 million litres contained in the tanker) to a mother ship.However, as the crew managed to activate the SSAS alarm, the tanker was saved by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).Once informed of the incident, MMEA dispatched two ships and a helicopter to the location and rescued the tanker earlier today.ReCAAP said that ten perpetrators were apprehended and search for the remaining three perpetrators is ongoing.The tanker is now being escorted to Kuala Terengganu for further investigation.“The rapid apprehension of the perpetrators and successful rescue of the crew and vessel within hours from reporting is a testament to the effectiveness of timely reporting by the ship and effective enforcement by the relevant authorities,” Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP, said.This is the second incident involving theft of oil cargo reported in Asia in 2017. The last incident was the hijack of product tanker C.P. 41 for oil cargo theft that occurred on June 23, 2017, approximately 25 nautical miles east of Kuantan, West Malaysia.“The ReCAAP ISC is concerned about the recurrence of incidents of hijacking of ship for theft of oil cargo. Ships carrying oil cargo are encouraged to exercise vigilance and adopt precautionary measures,” the watchdog warned.last_img read more

NKT Inks TenneT High-Voltage Cable Systems Service Deal

first_imgNKT has been awarded a three-year service agreement contract by the German-Dutch power grid operator TenneT covering the cable jointing part of a larger offshore service agreement. The contract covers the cable jointing work for seven power cable systems and includes a tailored preparedness plan designed by NKT to ensure minimum downtime in case of damages to the high-voltage power cables, which originally was manufactured by NKT.“The agreement with TenneT is a milestone for NKT and our ambition to become the preferred service partner in the market. With the agreement, we support TenneT with our experienced jointing technicians, specially designed tools and equipment as well as guaranteed mobilisation time to minimize the potential downtime,” says Oliver Schlodder, executive vice president and head of Applications, Service & Accessories.In total, the seven TenneT power cable systems covered by the service agreement deliver more than 3,000 MW of power.last_img read more