Friday, February 17, 2017

Culver’s Launches Third Annual FFA Essay Contest

Restaurant celebrates FFA Week with contest that sends FFA chapters to national convention PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – Feb. 20, 2017 – There are already 649,355 reasons to celebrate National FFA Week, but Culver’s is adding one more. On Feb. 20, Culver’s will kick off its third annual FFA Essay Contest to award three winners the funds to send their FFA chapters to the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Oct. 25-28, 2017. The essay contest asks FFA members to submit an essay in response to the following questions: As a future ag leader, what do you want people to know about the agricultural industry? How will you help to educate them on this subject? Culver’s will award prizes for the top three essays, providing winners with $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500 respectively. To submit their essays, FFA members should visit Culvers.com/essaycontest. The contest ends March 31, 2017, at 5 p.m. CST. “We’re excited to continue to hear firsthand from such passionate and knowledgeable students about the topics that are important to them,” said Jessie Corning, senior marketing manager for Culver’s. “With the FFA Essay Contest, more FFA members have a chance to attend the convention and immerse themselves in the agricultural community.” Annually, more than 60,000 FFA members attend the conference, which provides opportunities for members nationwide to unite and celebrate their collective accomplishments while learning about some of the 235 unique careers that exist in the industry of agriculture. One of last year’s winners, Hannah S., shared her chapter’s experience at the convention here. National FFA Week runs from Feb. 18-25, 2017, and is an opportunity for FFA members and friends to advocate for agricultural education and share the positive impact that FFA has on its 649,355 members in 7,757 local chapters across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Culver’s essay contest is part of the restaurant’s Thank You Farmers program, which recognizes the hard work of the nation’s farmers and helps ensure the future of the next generation of agricultural leaders. To date, the Thank You Farmers initiative has raised over one million dollars in support of the National FFA Organization and Foundation, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Is your Valentine true? Consumer org issuing warning about costly sweetheart swindles

Washington, DC—Have you been chatting online with what seems to be the perfect sweetheart? Experts at Fraud.org, the National Consumers League’s flagship fraud prevention and education program, are warning consumers to be wary of the inauthentic online relationships that end up costing victims hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Falling in love with a con artist has consistently been ranked as one of the most expensive scams for victims who have reported their experiences to Fraud.org. In 2016, sweetheart swindles were the 9th-most reported form of fraud, and the most expensive for victims, with a median loss of $2,000. “In a typical romance scam, victims are approached online, through a dating website, a social media platform such as Facebook, or another type of online forum. Scammers go to great lengths to cultivate romantic interest with their victims,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud. “They nurture the relationship, build trust, and then convince victims to send money, sometimes days or even months into the new ‘relationship.’” Once a sense of trust is developed, the con artist asks for money to be sent to help them out of a dangerous or difficult situation. Scammers often run the same game on multiple victims at once, claiming that they need money to come visit their new friend-victim, or for medical bills, legal help, or some other unexpected emergency. If the victim agrees to pay, there are inevitably additional requests for money to cover other fictitious expenses until the victim comes to realize it is a scam and stops paying, or worse, runs out of money to give. In a complaint received at Fraud.org last month, “Jennifer,” a 32-year-old woman from Wisconsin, reported losing $35,000 to a sweetheart scammer. Her story is similar to the typical romance swindle: Jennifer met a man named “Nick” on the dating website OKCupid. Nick claimed to be from Australia but living in Nebraska. Shortly into their online relationship, Nick had to go to Africa for a business trip. While he was there, Nick was robbed and needed $3,000-$4,000 to buy a plane ticket to return to the United States. Having developed romantic feelings for Nick, she obliged and sent the cash to help him. Following this, Nick told Jennifer he had a string of more unfortunate, and fake, events—getting arrested, needing a diplomatic passport, his mother was sick and dying, contemplating suicide, having a heart attack, and getting arrested again. Throughout all of this, Jennifer agreed to his requests for cash through credit card advances, iTunes gift cards, and even sending iPhones. In all, Jennifer is now in credit card debt for $31,000, not including all the cash she wired to her sweetheart. “Stories like these are both heartbreaking and unfortunately typical of what we hear from victims,” said Breyault. “Millions of consumers meet friends and find romance online, but there are a determined group of criminals out there eager to relieve victims of their cash in the name of love. The best defense consumers have is to learn about the signs of a scam in order to spot them before it’s too late.” Red flags that your relationship might be a costly set-up to a scam: • The “relationship” becomes romantic extremely quickly, with quick pronouncements of love or close friendship. • The person you’re communicating with makes excuses about not being able to speak by phone or meet in person. • Your suitor requests that you wire money or cash a check or money order on their behalf and send them the funds. For more information on sweetheart swindles and other scams of the heart, visit Fraud.org.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reps. Peterson, Conaway Reaffirm Crop Insurance Support Prior to Farm Bill

(BONITA SPRINGS, Fla.) – Leaders from the House Agriculture Committee expressed their continued support for crop insurance and urged agriculture to remain vigilant against farm policy critics during the upcoming Farm Bill debate. The Committee’s Ranking Member, Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), spoke at the crop insurance industry’s annual conference this week, calling crop insurance “a safety net that really works for producers.” He praised private-sector delivery as one of the main reasons for its success over the years. “When the government tried to run crop insurance, it just didn’t work,” he said, referring to the period before private providers were tapped in 1980 to deliver insurance protection to farmers. The public-private partnership that characterizes crop insurance today prioritizes customer service and innovates to meet the changing risks that farmers face, Peterson explained. “We just need to make sure we keep it that way in the future,” he noted. Peterson wasn’t alone in applauding the current structure of crop insurance. Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) told the group via video message that private industry and a “motivated agent workforce on the ground,” have helped increase crop insurance participation over the years. This, he said, has reduced taxpayer risk exposure and virtually eliminated the need for costly ad hoc disaster bills in agriculture. “Put simply, crop insurance is working,” Conaway continued. “For every farmer, banker, and rural businessman I talk to, they all remind me that crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm safety net.” Conaway noted that Farm Bill hearings would begin before the end of the month, and Peterson expressed his desire to deliver a bill before the end of the year. To do so, Peterson stressed, agriculture and its allies must work together to beat back critics of farm policy who want to leave farmers with fewer risk management tools. The Chairman agreed. “We can win this fight. We will win this fight because we are in the right,” he concluded. “We stand for an industry that blesses this nation with every bushel or bale that’s produced. This is an industry worth fighting for.”