USDA Grants for Farmers Transitioning to Organic — Hawaii Department of Agriculture

The USDA has announced a grant program to help farmers transition to organic farming. The deadline to apply is May 29, 2009. To view the USDA news release, click on the headline.

Release No. 0146.09

Contact: Terry Bish (202) 720-5974 

AGRICULTURE DEPUTY SECRETARY MERRIGAN ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR NEW ORGANICS INITIATIVE

$50 Million in Funding Available Nationwide

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2009— Speaking today to the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced $50 Million for a new initiative to meet the Obama Administration’s promise to encourage more organic agriculture production. Funding for the initiative is being made available as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

"Assisting organic producers is a priority of the 2008 Farm Bill as well as for Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration," said Merrigan. "The objective of this initiative is to make organic food producers eligible to compete for EQIP financial assistance."

The 2009 Organic Initiative is a nationwide special initiative to provide financial assistance to National Organic Program (NOP) certified organic producers as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production. Organic producers may also apply for assistance under general EQIP.

Maui Land & Pineapple Reports 2009 1st Quarter Results

Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (MLP) reported a net loss of $13.2 million or $1.65 per share for the first quarter of 2009 compared to a net loss of $414,000, or $0.05 per share for the first quarter of 2008. Consolidated revenues were $15.6 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to $25.4 million for the first quarter of 2008, a decrease of 39%. Results in the first quarter of 2009 largely reflect the continuing impact of the national and worldwide economic uncertainty that has resulted in reduced visitor counts to Maui and the State of Hawaii and slower sales of real estate. Approximately $10.5 million of the increase in the net loss resulted from the year-over-year decrease in profit from the Company’s equity investment in Kapalua Bay Holdings LLC. The Company’s $50 million cash sale of the Plantation Golf Course in March 2009 was accounted for as a financing transaction and, accordingly, no gain was recognized in the first quarter of 2009.

The Community Development segment reported an operating loss of $3.2 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to operating income of $8.1 million for the first quarter of 2008. Revenues from this operating segment were $2.0 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to $4.6 million for the first quarter of 2008. The Company recorded a loss from Kapalua Bay Holdings, LLC of $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2009 compared to income of $9.4 million in the first quarter of 2008. Lower results in 2009 from the Kapalua Bay equity investment reflect reduced sales for the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008. Lower results from the Community Development segment in the first quarter of 2009 were also due to no land sales in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the sale of two non-core land parcels in the first quarter of 2008.

The Resort segment reported an operating loss of $4.2 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to an operating loss of $2.3 million for the first quarter of 2008. Resort segment revenues decreased from $11.7 million in the first quarter of 2008 to $8.6 million for the first quarter of 2009 or 26%, reflecting lower revenues from the primary Resort operations, golf, retail and villas. A reduction in visitor arrivals and occupancy at the Resort was primarily responsible for the lower results in the first quarter of 2009.

The Agriculture segment produced an operating loss of $3.5 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to an operating loss of $5.1 million for the first quarter of 2008. Revenues from the Agriculture segment decreased by 42% from $8.5 million in the first quarter of 2008 to $4.9 million in the first quarter of 2009 due to lower case volume of fresh pineapple sales. The lower loss in the first quarter of 2009 reflects higher average prices for fresh pineapple and lower operating costs in the Agriculture segment. In addition, the operating loss for the first quarter of 2008 included approximately $0.9 million in equipment write-offs and a provision of $0.9 million for potentially uncollectible accounts receivable.

MAUI LAND & PINEAPPLE COMPANY, INC.
Report of Consolidated Operations
(Unaudited)
(in thousands except per share amounts)
mlploss1
NOTES:
The Company’s reports for interim periods utilize numerous estimates of production, general and administrative expenses, and other costs for the full year. In addition, revenues from land sales are sporadic. Consequently, amounts in the interim reports are not necessarily indicative of results for the full year.
Contacts:
For Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc.
Robert I. Webber, 808-877-1674
Fax: 808-877-1614

Buying Farm Land on Kauai

Buying Farm Land on Kauai | Hawaii Life

How many of us haven’t at some time entertained the idea (except those who have already done so!) of running off to Kauai, buying a few acres, and “living off the land”. A potent fantasy indeed, and for the past several years, one realized only by those with considerably deep pockets – vacant agricultural land on Kauai has recently ranged from $100,000 to well over $300,000 per acre (depending on location, views, caliber of neighborhood, etc…); land with a house already on it, obviously, even more.

The recent economic travails, however, are certainly doing their part to bring farming on Kauai back from the realm of fantasy into something verging on do-able for a lot more of us. And as well, these travails are providing motivation – more and more of us just want to chuck everything and revert to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

Acreage on the Big Island has always been more affordable – for one thing, there’s a whole lot more of it; for another, it comes with active lava zones, limited infrastructure, long travel distances, etc… Kauai is like a precious green jewel-box in comparison – much smaller, more accessible, more groomed. The soil is older, the distances smaller, the beaches closer. And it has been much, much more expensive.

The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Single Payer in Maryland

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.
James L. McGee, CEBS--On Health Care Reform

Single Payer in Maryland

February 28th, 2009

A letter to Senator Thomas McLain (Mac) Middleton

Chairman, Senate Finance Committee

Maryland State Senate

In one way or another I have been associated with labor management benefit funds throughout my working career.  For years, the multiemployer funds were my model of how a health care system based on employment could work.

But I have become convinced that the health care system is broken at its core.

I understand that the Maryland State Senate will be considering SB 881 in committee hearings on Wednesday, March 4th.    I am asking you to join the effort to lead Maryland to a single payer solution to health care in Maryland and the nation.

Who should the system serve?

First,  I ask you to pay attention to who is complaining the loudest that the current system is broken.  It is patients and doctors.  If all of the other stakeholders aren’t facilitating patient access to care and physician delivery of care, then their role in the process needs to be reexamined.   A single payer approach begins a fundamental realignment of those roles.  It does not need to eliminate their roles.  It needs to make them secondary.

Please Click Here to Read the Complete Article by Jim McGee » The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Single Payer in Maryland

The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Do we want employment based health insurance?

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.
James L. McGee, CEBS--On Health Care Reform

Do we want employment based health insurance?

Why is there not more support for an expanded employer role in providing health insurance to all Americans?  I sense a certain exhaustion among decision makers and employee benefit professionals as they grapple with costs that just defy control. I notice at professional conferences an increasing openness to the single payer model.

We have seen one cost control fad after another.  More and more employers are dropping health benefits in order to stay afloat.  In this game of Old Maid, those employers who do provide benefits struggle to maintain their social compact with their employees without footing the bill for the rest of the world.

The rest of the world? How does that occur?  In a number of ways.

Please Click Here to Read the Complete Article by Jim McGee » The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Do we want employment based health insurance?

The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » A True Embarrassment of Riches

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.
James L. McGee, CEBS--On Health Care Reform

A True Embarrassment of Riches

I have often made the point that a major flaw in the health care  status quo – I balk at using the word “system” – is that no single entity accepts full responsibility.  With very few exceptions, everyone is trying to find someone else to pay the bill or the rest of the bill.

And too often the consumer is the rope in this tug of war.

Please Click Here to Read the Complete Article by Jim McGee » The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » A True Embarrassment of Riches

National Farm Machinery Show 2010 – Bvents.Com

The future of farming is coming to the 44th National Farm Machinery Show, as the nation’s largest indoor farm show returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center in February. Start the year with row after row of quality products and services, hands-on demonstrations of the latest technological advancements, and a variety of free seminars..

Don’t miss the high-intensity action of the Championship Tractor Pull, sponsored by Syngenta. These ground-pounding trucks and tractors are competing for the fame and glory that comes with winning at the oldest indoor tractor pull in America.

Make plans now to be a part of the cutting edge display of equipment and technology at this year’s National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull.

National Farm Machinery Show 2010

The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Barack Obama – Can we re-imagine health insurance?

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.
James L. McGee, CEBS--On Health Care Reform

Barack Obama – Can we re-imagine health insurance?

With the election of Barack Obama, there is a lot of hope and optimism about the potential for health care reform.

There is also some nervousness.

The nervousness originates from those who think that the current economic crises will inhibit reform efforts.  That somehow the price tag of reform will scare people away from health care reform.  I am encouraged by an insightful article by Ezra Klein on Obama’s choice of Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

According to Klein, Peter Orszag believes that health care reform is the key to the fiscal future.  Since it his office that will pin the price tag on any health care proposal, his biases matter.

Others are worried that Obama might be soft on insurance companies.

I am not a great friend of the insurance companies.  I deal with them every day.  But neither am I a knee-jerk opponent of insurance companies.

Insurance companies reflect the markets they operate in.  And health insurance companies function in a market that brings out their worst qualites.

Unlike home insurance, or auto insurance, there is no legal or market mandate to have health insurance.  This allows health insurance companies to avoid insuring the very people that need it the most – high risk (read sick) individuals.

Outside of the Medicare supplemental insurance market, there are very few limitations on what should be covered or not covered in a health insurance plan.  This gives insurance companies the license to put restrictions and exclusions in their policies as they, or their customers, see fit.

Please Click Here to Read the Complete Article by Jim McGee » The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Barack Obama – Can we re-imagine health insurance?