July 30, 2009

Friendshuh Remains Unbeaten on Season with Win at Canton Swim Meet

The Memphis Swim Team traveled to Canton for a meet on Tuesday, July 14. They competed as members of the Can-Oka Swim Team against the Twin Pikes Swim Team from Louisiana, Missouri. Results for Memphis swimmers follow:

6 & Under Girls

Clara Davis--1st, Mixed Free Relay; 1st, Backstroke; 2nd, Breaststroke; 4th, Butterfly; 3rd, 25 Free.

Shelby Troutman--2nd, Mixed Free Relay; 3rd, Backstroke; 3rd, Butterfly; 4th, 25 Free; 3rd, Mixed Medley Relay.

6 & Under Boys

Zane See--2nd, Mixed Free Relay; 2nd, Breaststroke; 4th, 25 Free; 3rd, Mixed Medley Relay.

7-8 Girls

Kathryn Feeney--3rd, Backstroke; 6th, Breaststroke; 14th, 25 Free.

Kaitlyn McMinn--1st, Girls Free Relay; 8th, Backstroke; 7th, 50 Free; 8th, 25 Free; 1st, Girls Medley Relay.

Katelin Parsons--2nd, Girls Free Relay; 5th, Backstroke; 13th, 25 Free.

7-8 Boys

Anthony Whitaker--3rd, Backstroke; 4th, 50 Free; 5th, Breaststroke; 5th, 25 Free; 2nd, Mixed Medley Relay.

9-10 Girls

Maddie Brassfield--2nd, Backstroke; 4th, 50 Free; 2nd, Breaststroke; 3rd, 25 Free; 1st, Mixed Medley Relay.

Sadie Davis--1st, Girls Free Relay; 10th, Backstroke; 10th, 50 Free; 13th, Breaststroke; 10th, 25 Free.

Lydia Hunt--3rd, Backstroke; 6th, 50 Free; 6th, Breaststroke; 3rd, 100 IM; 1st, Girls Medley Relay.

Stevi See--5th, 50 Free; 3rd, Breaststroke; 6th, Butterfly; 5th, 50 Free; 1st, Girls Medley Relay.

Avery Whitaker--2nd, Girls Free Relay; 11th, Backstroke; 9th, 50 Free; 10th, Breaststroke; 7th, 25 Free.

9-10 Boys

Brady Kice--5th, Backstroke; 5th, 50 Free; 4th, Butterfly; 4th, 25 Free.

Ian See--1st, Mixed Free Relay; 2nd, Backstroke; 3rd, 50 Free; 2nd, Breaststroke; 2nd, 100 IM.

Stephen Terrill--1st, Mixed Free Relay; 4th, Backstroke; 4th, 50 Free; 6th, Breaststroke; 5th, 25 Free.

Vince Youmans--1st, Mixed Free Relay; 2nd, 50 Free; 5th, Breaststroke; 3rd, Butterfly; 1st, 100 IM.

11-12 Girls

Mikenzie Beckley--9th, Backstroke; 11th, 50 Free.

Renay Friendshuh--2nd, Girls Free Relay; 7th, Backstroke; 4th, 100 Free; 1st, Breaststroke; 4th, 100 IM.

Olivia Harris--2nd, Backstroke; 2nd, 100 Free; 5th, 50 Free; 3rd, 100 IM; 1st, Mixed Medley Relay.

Natalie Miller--2nd, Girls Free Relay; 4th, Backstroke; 6th, 100 Free; 8th, Breaststroke; 8th, 50 Free.

11-12 Boys

Mark Barrett--4th, Backstroke; 6th, 100 Free; 4th, Breaststroke; 6th, 50 Free; 2nd, Mixed Medley Relay.

Joseph Hite--1st, Mixed Free Relay; 1st, Backstroke; 3rd, 100 Free; 1st, Butterfly; 2nd, 50 Free.

13-14 Girls

Shelby Eggleston--4th, Backstroke; 4th, 100 Free; 3rd, Breaststroke; 5th, 50 Free.

Ali Seppelt--1st, Mixed Free Relay; 2nd, Backstroke; 4th, Breaststroke; 4th, 50 Free; 2nd, 100 IM.

15-18 Women

Hilary Harris--7th, Backstroke; 8th, 100 Free; 4th, Breaststroke; 8th, 50 Free; 1st, Women's Medley Relay.

Sammi Tobler--2nd, Backstroke; 3rd, 100 Free; 2nd, Butterfly; 2nd, 100 IM; 1st, Women's Medley Relay.

Monica Weidenbenner--5th, Backstroke; 4th, 100 Free; 2nd, Breaststroke; 4th, 50 Free; 1st, Women's Medley Relay.

Brittney Youmans--1st, Women's Free Relay; 4th, Backstroke; 6th, 100 Free; 3rd, Butterfly; 4th, 100 IM.

Scotland County Senior Nutrition Center

MENU

Thursday, July 28 – Meatloaf, Mixed Vegetables, Cauliflower/Cheese Sauce, Bread, Peach Crisp

Friday, July 29 – Catfish Nuggets, Macaroni Salad, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Strawberry Shortcake

Monday, August 1 – Chicken Strips, Scalloped Cabbage, Buttered Corn, Bread, Apple Crisp

Tuesday, August 2 – Tenderloin/Bun, Onion Slice, Pasta Veggie Salad, Green Beans, Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Wednesday, Aug. 3 – Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes/Gravy, Spinach, Wheat Roll, Jell-O Fruit

Thursday, August 4 – Taco Salad, Lettuce, Beans/Chips, Tomatoes, Peas, Applesauce, Cookie

ACTIVITIES

Thursday, July 28 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 4 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Heat Wave, Visitors, and a Sad Farewell

Althea hugging a duck. Photo by Ben.

Althea hugging a duck. Photo by Ben.

Howdy. Ben here, bringing y’all news from the storm-swept prairies, soggy draws, and humid homes of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. It certainly has been an eventful week here, though to be honest I haven’t had an uneventful one yet in my four years of time on farm. I’ll just stick with the formula y’all have come to expect and give you the weather report first.

We’ve spent the past week enduring a nasty heat wave here, with temps pushing towards a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, intense humidity, and still, stale, boggy air. The top eight inches or so of our swimming pond are unsettlingly warm, like broth. The fish might not bite under such conditions, but the crawdads are really nipping my toes these days during my daily cool downs at the old swimmin’ hole.

The sole motivation for completing my afternoon chores is the mere thought of our animals running low on fresh water. Come three in the afternoon, the barnyard is reminiscent of a ghost town, ducks and chickens peering from beneath the shade of cedars and sheds, the pigs nearly completely submerged in their wallows.

Other telltale signs that this is the height of summer include the whine and drone of cicadas, the emergence of partridge peas out in the field, and a sudden abundance of blackberries, perhaps the most I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here. In our kitchen co-op we’ve had enough for pie, wine, and consistent, daily snacking. Still, there’s more on the way. The paths are speckled with blackberry scat, perhaps belonging to possum or raccoon.

The only thing I’m more abundant in than berries is flies. It has been a banner fly year. I’m not sure if you’d call it a good fly year, or a bad fly year, but let’s just say there’s a fair few of ‘em. Appreciative as I am of all forms of biomass, I could stand to have fewer flies tickling my ankle hairs and landing on my baby during naps, but I’ll just remain thankful I’m not a goat on pasture, as they’re also seeming quite annoyed, stomping and shaking in the midday sun. Bring on the spiders, I say.

The mud daubers agree, as they busily take clay from our cob buckets and construct nests stuffed with paralyzed little orchard spiders, the living meals for their young. Such strange, fascinating things, these itty bitty critters do.

As of yesterday evening the sweaty, nasty, dense haze of summer moved out for now, pushed along by a swift, torrential storm, complete with corn-flattening winds. Here at Critter Kitchen, dinner was about to be served. In addition to our usual crew of diners, I was preparing a meal for about a dozen or so visitors. Dinner would be the usual fare, turnip fritters, collard greens, and pintos. Yum yum.

Keep in mind that our kitchen is outdoors, and has only one wall. Caleb hollered down from his tree house that a storm would be blowing in shortly, but being tired of this same old story (we’ve had many rains inexplicably navigate around us this year), I shrugged it off as I added yet more grease to my turnip cakes.

Then came the rumble and roar of thunder, a creaking of tree limbs, and intense, horizontal rain. The sorta rain that hurts. Five-gallon buckets, cloth diapers, feed sacks, tin cups, leaves and thorny little sticks all started whipping about. I might’ve seen a chicken set a flight record.

This is about the time all the visitors showed up. After a few moments of sorting out the sensible and unsensible desires of this crew, most folks headed to our root cellar on the count of three. It can fit a lot of people when there’s no food in there.

Eventually, the severe weather subsided, I checked on the toilet paper, the livestock, the rain gauge, and dinner, in that order, and after a few more moments spent picking up and drying off our plates, we had a swell time eating greasy turnip patties, joking and dripping wet.

While some folks have a preference for slightly more formalized get-to-know-you type activities and conversations, these are the kinds of bonding moments that I appreciate about our visitor sessions: sharing in the experience of the natural elements, be they as pleasant as the taste of wild berries, or rough as the late July heat followed by an intense gullywasher. Nobody, as far as I figure, makes it through Dancing Rabbit without at least a little mud on ‘em. You ought to come on and try it some time. The mud you have at home ain’t quite the same.

After a storm, especially a windstorm, a common sight in our village is helpers. A handful of folks will usually walk about, check on people, animals, tents, and homes for signs of damage, and help out if an outhouse needs propped up, or if some laundry needs to be found somewhere out there in a three-acre radius, or if some scattered chickens or goats need herded. I’d like to think of us as a community of helpful doers. No one can probably help me with my windblown tomatoes, or my wet toilet paper, though.

Sadly, I must announce that one of our helpful doers has passed into the next cycle of existence. Dennis Hoffarth, my neighbor and good friend, and a very helpful doer well before Dancing Rabbit was even an inkling of an idea, was laid to rest here one week ago.

Anyone who’s spent time with Dennis can tell you that he was a tireless worker for change, a dedicated builder of hope, and the sort of idea man who was willing to walk his talk. That is not to mention that he was a truly fun friend to work with, and funny as hell, too.

I can only attempt to memorialize Dennis from my own point of view, as I know his impact was felt in innumerable ways, by innumerable people. I will probably always think of him when I’m riding or tuning a bike, training my left hand to saw as well as my right, or hoisting an improbably large object into the air.

In my first year here at DR, I had the opportunity to work on the frame and foundation of Robinia, the home he built with his partner Sharon, and in that time I was introduced to concepts as mundane yet useful as shims and kerfs, and some greater, deeper ideas, about how to treat people and the planet with thoughtfulness and respect. I myself, and many others, will miss his wit, observations, and ideas. I aspire to be near as helpful a doer as he was.

For a person dedicated to cooperation, Dennis did things against the grain, at least when that was beneficial for all of us. One of his major pursuits in that department was practical, functional bicycling. Before it was cool for grown adults to ride around on bikes (ok, it’s always been cool, just not hip), Dennis was talking that talk, and walking it too.

Maybe peddling the pedal, would be the appropriate wordplay. He paved the way for whippersnappers like me to ride bikes safely and meaningfully. That’s why it seemed obvious that he ought to be brought to his final rest by bike. Supported by many friends, family, and neighbors, Dennis took his final ride last Monday morning, as well-secured cargo on our community bike trailer. Many helpful doers made preparations for the burial site and ceremony, and even more were on hand and available for the necessary help and support in Dennis’ final days. I lack the words for all y’all. Maybe just thanks, and I’m sorry, and love you.

An ecovillage, by definition, is meant to be a fully featured settlement. We have the occasional need of midwives, and yes, the occasional need of undertakers. A few hours after Dennis was laid to rest, our July visitor session began, and although we had let them know by email and phone what the community was going through, I am sure that many of them became more immediately aware that Dancing Rabbit was in a place of tenderness and mourning. I hope that they see it as a place of great caring, too.

Death sure can be scary, and it is coming for all of us at some point. What happens after that ain’t none of my business.  I’d like it to come for me in a place like this, where the experience can be shared and felt more equally, where we can be as present for the dying as we can be for the children growing up in the world that the dying have given us.

And Dennis wanted to give us a better world for growing up in. I cannot help but look at my own kids, one of them fierce, free, and occasionally sweet, the other one basically either sleeping, laughing, or crying, but typically drooling, and hope that all of us together are going to build the world that others have so thoughtfully dreamt up for us. Happy trails, neighbor.

* * *

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit outside Rutledge, MO, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. We offer public tours of the village on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, April-October; the next is Saturday, August 13th at 1 pm. Reservations not required. Tours are free, though donations to help us continue our educational and outreach efforts are gratefully accepted. For directions, call the office at 660-883-5511 or email us at dancingrabbit@ic.org. To find out more about us, you can also check out our website: www.dancingrabbit.org.

Area Families Stepping Up to Meet Needs of 57 Foster Children

Efforts of local families are meeting the needs of 57 area foster children in Scotland, Clark and Schuyler counties, but more foster parents are needed.

Efforts of local families are meeting the needs of 57 area foster children in Scotland, Clark and Schuyler counties, but more foster parents are needed.

In Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland Counties there are currently 57 children who are not able to live with their own family due to safety concerns.  Foster families provide a safe, comfortable and caring haven for these children during this traumatic time.  Staying connected to familiar and reassuring things, such as friends, school, and routine activities, helps lessen the stress and change a child must cope with in his or her young life.

“It is through the commitment of foster parents that children who have been abused or neglected are able to remain in their community in a safe and nurturing environment,” said Rachelle Curry, MSW, Circuit Manager.

Unfortunately, remaining in the community is not always an option if a foster family is not available when a child comes into care. Some children must go to a neighboring community, far from the community they know.

“We are always in need of more families who will open their hearts and homes to children in Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland counties,” said Curry. “Foster parents make children feel safe, nurtured, and loved, and they provide support for children and families during a challenging time in their lives.”

Anyone can apply to become a foster parent in Missouri, as long as they are 21 years old and willing to go through the training and assessment process.  That process includes background checks, health screenings, financial discussions and home assessments.

“You don’t have to be married or own your own home,”‘ said Curry. “As long as your housing and income are stable and meet licensure standards and there is room in your home and heart for more family members, you are likely to be approved.”

There are other ways to support children living in foster families in your community, and Curry said she and her staff will be happy to work with community members to explain how to donate items or personal time to support children in foster care.

To learn more about foster foster parenting or ways to get involved, visit http://www.MOheartgallery.org or call Laura Babington at 660-727-3393, ext 229, or 1-800-554-2222 for more information.

“The Missouri Children’s Division would like to thank everyone in Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland Counties for their generosity and support of foster families during our foster parent appreciation activities this year,” said Curry. “We have outstanding foster parents and it was a wonderful opportunity to recognize their dedication to helping children in foster care.”

Recently a local a pool party was held to demonstrate appreciation to foster parents and the children they are supporting. The following local businesses donated to help make it fun and memorable event: Casey’s General Store, Community Bank of Memphis, Exchange Bank of Kahoka, Memphis Pizza Hut, Scotland County Ministerial Alliance, Scotland County Pharmacy, People’s Bank of Wyaconda, Shelter Insurance – Tim Bertram, and Vigen Memorial Home of Kahoka.

Edina Woman Hurt in Crash Near Baring

An Edina woman was injured in a one-vehicle crash near Baring early on Monday morning. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jessica L. Leckenby, 37, suffered moderate injuries in the crash that occurred at 6:35 a.m. on July 25th.

Leckenby was southbound on Highway 15, two miles south of Baring when the 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer she was driving went off the right side of the roadway and struck a ditch before overturning. Leckenby was flown from the scene by Air Evac helicopter to Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Baring Fire Department, Knox County Fire and Rescue, and the Knox County Ambulance Service.

The vehicle sustained total damage and was removed from the scene by Lakeside Towing of Memphis.

What America needs is a good Irish nun to stand up to bully Donald Trump

A dear friend of mine, Irish writer Dermot McEvoy, recently wrote an article first published in Irish Central which I consider one of the best ever on the subjects of anti-bullying and Donald Trump.  It’s a two-fer! Dermot was born in Ireland and moved with his family to the US at the age of four.  I’m not that fond of Irish Central itself since it leans so center-right, but I do appreciate reprint permission from their editor Niall O’Dowd.  (Dermot also wrote my favorite book on Micheal Collins, ‘The Thirteenth Apostle’, as valid a piece of historical fiction as ever came down the pike.)

Anyway, you might want to keep in mind that Irish humor is very dark; I don’t believe Dermot meant his advice to be taken TOO literally in favor of actual violence.  But here’s the article he wrote, with very minor bleeps I added for the sake of more tender local ears; that’s another part of general Irishness which might be news to Midwesterners – some of us lean toward rather salty language!  

What America needs is a good Irish nun to stand up to bully Donald Trump

An Irish nun would know how to take care of a bully like Donald Trump. 

All my life, all my heroes have been revolutionaries, writers, and nuns. 

After watching the GOP convention last week, I have decided to change that order.

What this country needs are fewer politicians—and more nuns!

I am an immigrant to this country—you know, the folks the Trumpster doesn’t like—and I had a lot of trouble adapting when my family came to Greenwich Village in 1954. My first attempt at the first grade was a total disaster. I came out of the year without learning how to read and arithmetic was a total mystery to me. People started to presume I was an idiot—some still hold that opinion.

My mother changed schools to St. Bernard’s on West 13th Street in the North Village. There was an ancient nun there, Sister Perpetua, who quizzed me. She asked me about my teeth—all rotten in the famous Irish tradition that Frank McCourt brilliantly portrayed in Angela’s Ashes—and I gave the right answer—the black buggers would eventually fall out. Sister Perpetua decided to take a chance on me.

I ended up in the first grade for the second time with Sister Anthony. She told my mother that she was an artist by avocation. She was young, tough and caring. She paid special attention to me and—finally—Dick and Jane and Spot began to make sense.

There was a kid in this class. A tough little Irish Catholic (bleep!) called Bobby Gallagher. This was, after all, the far north Village when most of my classmate’s fathers were longshoremen (from the Irish, by the way, Loingseoir, which means someone works near the boats and the water).

Little Bobby was blond and incorrigible. Sister Anthony, a cultured woman of great patience, couldn’t take his impertinence anymore and finally let Bobby have it—she picked up a yard stick and hit the little (bleep!) with it, breaking it on the little (bleep!)’s (arse). No one in the class said it a word—but everyone approved.

Which brings me back to Donald J. Trump and his hate-filled convention that just went down.

Never, in my years monitoring American politics, have I seen such an uneducated narcissist come out and flaunt his ignorance before the American public. This guy hates everyone.

In my youth, under the protective guidance of the Catholic Church—in my case a wonderful institution totally concerned with my well-being—a vulgarian like Trump could never get away with absolute bigotry like that. In that era, there were three ethnic groups of Catholics at St. Bernard’s—Irish, Italian and Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican). Because of those Irish Catholic nuns of the Sisters of Charity there was ZERO ethnic hostility. Everyone was pals with everyone.

Today, we look at a bum like Trump and he gets away with murder in the media. Why? Because he’s good copy and the rating go up when he’s on TV spewing his hate. Next week in Philadelphia the Democrats better get moving and start hitting this bully with everything they have.

He’s just like Bobby Gallagher.

What this country needs are more people like Sister Anthony—she knew how to take care of the class bully.

Unfortunately, the bully in this case, is the nominee of the GOP for the presidency of the United States.

You know, I’d like to see how big tough strutting Donald J. Trump—he, the lover of dictators like Putin and that North Korean guy with the bad haircut—would have handled Sister Anthony. I’m betting on Sister Anthony—she could spot a fraud and a bully without breaking a sweat. Bring on the yard stick. 

******************

Dermot McEvoy is the author of the The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at dermotmcevoy50@gmail.com. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy/

Reprint submitted by Frances Perkins, Memphis, Missouri

Missouri Producers Reminded of Nearing Deadline to Submit Nominations for Farm Service Agency County Committees

Columbia, MO July 26, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Missouri Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Mark Cadle, today reminded farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers that they have until Aug. 1, 2016, to nominate eligible candidates to serve on local FSA county committees.

“The August 1 deadline to submit nominations is quickly approaching,” said Cadle.

“If you’ve been considering nominating a candidate or nominating yourself to serve on your local county committee, I encourage you to go to your county office right now to submit that nomination form. I especially encourage the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women and minorities. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”

FSA county committees help local farmers through their decisions on commodity price support loans, conservation programs and disaster programs, and by working closely with county executive directors.

To be eligible to hold office as a county committee member, individuals must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and live in the local administrative area where they are running. A complete list of eligibility requirements, more information and nomination forms are available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

All nominees must sign the nomination form FSA-669A. All nomination forms for the 2016 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2016. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 7 and are due back to the local USDA Service Centers on Dec. 5. The newly elected county committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2017.

Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA’s BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

What a “liberal” is.

In July 21’s Democrat Ron Alexander, bless his heart, seems to have no idea of what a “liberal” is. A liberal may be a Republican, Democrat, Green Party or any just plain citizen. The word liberal is not a dirty word and in fact it probably is most appropriate to describe a good Christian man or woman.

Liberal politicians, both Republican, Democrat and Independent have been the leaders in protecting Mr. Alexander’s “constitutional” rights. They have been the ones who have gone out of their way to establish the rights that each American should not go hungry, should have the right to be educated, should have the right to a good job protected from unjust dismissal.

It is time that we revisit our understanding of where American liberal tendencies are rooted. Our “Declaration of Independence” was conceived by liberals who believed ALL men have the right to be a part of government. Our “Constitution” was hammered out by liberals. And our “Bill of Rights” was demanded by liberals in the separate states. Liberalism is a founding principle of our country. The concept of being liberal is being a free thinker and not allowing anyone tell you how to think.

The beauty of this is the liberal concept accepts the fact that people will have different thoughts than them. It doesn’t make those thoughts right, but it does allow for discussion.

The next part of being a liberal is my Christian background. If Christ wasn’t a liberal talk with the Pharisees and Sadducees who were frightened of him. See, that is the part of liberal that causes all this venom. Those in power are frightened and bewildered. They are being challenged. Christ might have even been for gun control, heaven help us, for he certainly wasn’t in favor of the sword.

I wish to make it clear I am not an apologist. I am an advocate. Where there is injustice, there I will be. Where there are the hungry, there I will be. Where there are the incarcerated, there I will be.

And where there are the ones foaming at the mouth (Just my opinion) there I will be. Just call me a liberal.

Tom Reel

Downing, MO

Local Corn Farmers Briefed on Mass Tort Lawsuit Against Syngenta

Representatives of the Midwest Corn Lawsuit, a mass tort action versus Syngenta, were in Memphis on Monday seeking prospective clients. The legal team met with farmers whom they are seeking to represent in a case against the seed company, that the lawsuit says cost Midwest corn farmers billions of dollars.

Representatives of the Midwest Corn Lawsuit, a mass tort action versus Syngenta, were in Memphis on Monday seeking prospective clients. The legal team met with farmers whom they are seeking to represent in a case against the seed company, that the lawsuit says cost Midwest corn farmers billions of dollars.

Jessica Dodd, not Erin Brockovich, was in Memphis Monday morning but the storylines were similar enough to the famous movie about a class action lawsuit, that the analogy has become a common one when Dodd and her fellow representatives visit with prospective clients considering joining the Midwest Corn Lawsuit.

“We kind of joke about it, because we are faced with many of the same challenges like the law team in the movie, visiting small, rural communities and trying to get people to trust us so we can help them seek damages they are entitled to because of the mistakes made by large company,” said Dodd, of the Mauro Archer & Associates law firm, one of the many components of the legal team that make up Midwest Corn Lawsuit.

The law team is compiling a mass tort lawsuit versus Syngenta for the seed company’s alleged role in destabilizing the global corn market. Having been named the lead counsel by the Minnesota District Court overseeing this case, the legal team is representing more than 50,000 farmers. And with more than 2,000 town hall meetings, like the one held in Memphis on Monday, that number continues to grow.

The legal action is based on a 2009 Syngenta release of a new corn seed in United States markets. The claimants are seeking billions of dollars in damages, alleging that because the new strain released before it was improved for import by China, and was subsequently refused for import into China in 2013 and 2014, resulted in a global collapse in corn prices.

The new genetically engineered corn trait, labeled M1R162, into the U.S. market initially under the name of Agrisure Viptera and advertising its varieties as genetically engineered to protect corn against damage from insects such as the corn borer and corn rootworm.

The lawsuit claims that Viptera was marketed and introduced to the U.S. market without import approval from China secured while Syngenta maintained that approval was imminent, with statements like this April 2012 release by Syngenta’s CEO. “There is an outstanding approval for China, which we expect to have quite frankly within the matter of a couple of days.”

The import approval was not granted until December 2014, a delay the legal team believes created billions of dollars in damages to farmers and related industries such as grain storage, shippers and even manufacturers of corn products.

The lawsuit highlights the alleged destruction of grain shipments from the U.S. by China, one of the  world’s largest corn importers and subsequent rejection of U.S. corn shipments because they contained a genetically modified variety that had not been approved. The action has indicated that by the end of 2013, over 545,000 tons of U.S. corn had been rejected by China, generating a significant downward drag on corn prices.

“By April 2014, the rejected corn tonnage had reached 1,450,000. China was not the only country that rejected this GMO corn. 3.3 million metric tons of U.S. corn were rejected globally as of March 2014,” said Dodd. “The export market disruptions cost U.S. farmers billions of dollars.”

The National Grain and Feed Association estimates the total economic damage of Syngenta’s commercialization of Viptera MIR 162 prior to Chinese approval to be as much as $2.9 billion.

Unlike the many law firms currently seeking class action lawsuits against Syngenta, the Midwest Corn Lawsuit team is seeking a mass tort action, noting that class action cases usually result in outrageous fees for the attorneys pursuing them, while farmers and those directly impacted by Syngenta’s actions will only receive a nominal award.

Dodd noted that  a mass tort lawsuit can give farmers the representation and compensation they deserve, ensuring compensation is awarded based on actual damages as a result of Syngenta’s commercialization of unapproved traits. And unlike a class action suit, a mass tort will not be settled without the claimants decision to opt-in to the proposed settlement.

“Our action is based on the belief that any corn grower, regardless of whether or not they planted Viperta or other Syngenta seed, should be made whole by Syngenta,” said Dodd.

She visited with a small number of producers on July 25th at Keith’s Cafe.

“Our town halls offer a small-group setting, giving interested parties a chance to get answers and to find out more about the process,” said Dodd.

She noted of the most popular line of questioning relates to possible backlash from Syngenta.

“It is not unusual for farmers to be reluctant to sign on to what they might perceive as controversial, as they often voice fears about reprisals by such a larger company.” She noted that farmers face no liability for any countersuit.

The initial process at the town hall meetings is simply to sign a contract with this legal team to serve as representation in the mass tort action against Syngenta. With more than 90% of the farmers seeking relief from Syngenta signed up with this law team, Dodd said the numbers continue to grow daily.

“We basically are meeting with folks all across the Midwest, determining their eligibility to participate, and if they are interested, presenting the case for why they should allow us to represent them,” said Dodd.

With the first set of trials scheduled for March of next year, a deadline has been established for December of this year for producers to participate.

“That means that sometime in October we will likely halt the signup process, as we will have to have all of the follow-up work completed by December,” said Dodd.

The follow-up work basically is the collection of documentation from the lawsuit participants. After completing the initial brief one-page contract with the representatives, the law team will then send participants a welcome package with information on how to begin preparing copies of documentation of farms records that will demonstrate the negative economic impact Syngenta’s action has on the complainant.

Dodd indicated the group will likely be holding additional area town hall meetings, noting that an August 29th date has been set with a local location to be determined. Or for more information, interested parties can contact the law team at 515-635-1626 or via email at info@midwestcornlawsuit.com.

MU Ag Alumni Gather in Gorin for CAFNR Picnic

University of Missouri Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (CAFNR) Tom Payne is pictured with Keith Payne who organized a Mizzou Alumni event at his family farm near Gorin.

University of Missouri Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (CAFNR) Thomas Payne is pictured with Keith Payne who organized a Mizzou Alumni event at his family farm near Gorin.

While recent rains have returned the Gorin area farm scenery to green in color, an influx of University of Missouri alumni and boosters turned the region black and gold for an evening. The Keith and Ruth Ann Boyer farm on Route U near Gorin was the sight of a MU College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (CAFNR) picnic held on July 22nd.

CAFNR Dean Thomas Payne was the guest of honor  along with representatives of the CAFNR Foundation and the Mizzou Ag Alumni Association, who shared information with the guests about their programs.

Payne, who will be retiring in the near future, touted the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources collection of academic programs and instructors that benefit students and continue to  advance research with global impact.

He highlighted the work of Peter Scharf, professor of plant sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Scharf, who studies the management and utilization of nitrogen and fertilizers by farmers, recently was one of three MU professors recently awarded FastTrack funding to help expedite his work   that will  help farmers on decisions in growing corn. Funding will help devise and deploy drone and satellite imagery capabilities to better evaluate and predict corn loss due to nitrogen deficiency, thereby increasing yields to help feed a growing global population.

Payne also highlighted the efforts of Randall Prather from CAFNR’s division of animal sciences. He praised Prather’s work on the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus which could save the swine industry millions of dollars.

“It is people like this that are allowing CAFNR to play a key role in changing agriculture, food and natural resources, the core components of society that impact what we eat, where we live and how we’ll face tomorrow,” he told the gathering.

Payne shared that the  College is ranked among the top 15 programs in the world for animal and plant science research.

He also explained how innovative thinking opportunities offered by the school go beyond the classroom, the laboratory and the field, giving students hands-on, real-life opportunities like the student-run florist, bed and breakfast, café, meat market and ice cream shop, the later of which products were shared with the guests at dessert time.

Representatives of the CAFNR Foundation and the Mizzou Ag Alumni Association offered information on how CAFNR students benefit from nearly $1 million in annual scholarships, adding that personal connections and networking the students build with faculty and alumni will result in employment and business opportunities not to mention life-long friendships like the ones demonstrated by the alumni in attendance.

MU Alumni rep Bill Riggins shared the group’s schedule of upcoming events, which included: Missouri State Fair Social -Saturday, August 13, 2016; Tiger Ag Classic & Steak Fry  – Friday, September 16, 2016; CAFNR Week Bonfire        – Sunday, September 18, 2016; GROW Exhibit event at St. Louis Science Center        – Saturday, October 8, 2016; Homecoming Tailgate – Saturday, October 22, 2016; CAFNR Ag Unlimited Banquet & Auctions – Saturday, February 11, 2017; and Alumni Awards & Celebration of Excellence – Thursday, April 13, 2017 .

Tax Free Weekend for Back to School Shoppers

back to school shopping

by Andrea Brassfield

With the official start of the 2016-2017 school year just around the corner, it’s time to think about those back to school purchases.  Consumers can once again enjoy a sales tax holiday in Missouri and Iowa the first full weekend in August.  Missouri’s Tax Free Weekend includes both Friday and Saturday, August 5-6 while Missouri shoppers get to enjoy an extra day, August 5-7, Friday thru Sunday.

Iowa’s tax free weekend applies to clothing and shoes as long as individual items are under $100 each.  The list of items exempt from this tax free weekend include jewelry, watches and watchbands, umbrellas and sports equipment (such as skis, swim fins, roller blades, and skates, as well as clothing or footwear designed specifically for athletic use). For more specific information about tax-exempt savings in Iowa and items excluded, visit their website at  https://tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday.

In Missouri, the tax holiday begins on Friday, August 5th and runs through Sunday, August 7th.  Certain back-to-school purchases, such as clothing, school supplies, computers, and other items as defined by the statute, are exempt from sales tax for this time period.

In Missouri, cities, counties, and districts have the option to not participate in the sales tax holiday.  Some larger cities not participating include Columbia, Jefferson City, Ozark, Osage Beach, and Springfield.  Many cities in the Kansas City area are participating.  For a complete list and all the details about Missouri’s Sales Tax Holiday, visit http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/.

Illinois does not participate in the Tax Free Weekend.

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