Entries in farmers (3)


Obama Authorizes $30 Million More in Drought Aid  

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is authorizing an additional $30 million to help farmers and ranchers in areas hit by the severe drought.

“This has been an all-hands-on-deck response…But obviously, we’ve got a lot more to do because a lot of folks are being affected by this,” President Obama told reporters at a White House meeting on the drought response.

Obama announced a series of steps to aid families and businesses impacted by the worst drought in 25 years, including increasing lending to small businesses and a Department of Transportation initiative to help commercial truck drivers provide much-needed supplies to the affected areas.

“We’re going to continue to solicit ideas from state and local organizations, state-based organizations, not-for-profit groups, the private sector, and most of all, the farmers and ranchers that are directly impacted, to find additional ways that we can help because when there’s a disaster like this, everybody needs to pull together,” he said.

The president called on Congress to pass the farm bill to “not only provide important disaster relief tools, but also make necessary reforms and give farmers the certainty that they deserve.”

“My hope is that Congress, many of whom will be traveling back to their districts, in some cases in rural communities, and see what’s taking place there, will feel a greater sense of urgency and be prepared to get this done immediately upon their return,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Farmers Sue Jon Corzine over Missing Millions

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Montana farmers have filed a class-action suit against former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, charging that the failed financial firm run by Corzine stole millions from their accounts to pay off its spiraling debts, and that Corzine's "single-minded obsession" with making MF Global a big player on Wall Street led to the firm's collapse.

MF Global's clients included 38,000 wheat farmers, cattle ranchers and others who "hedged" their crop prices by placing millions in MF Global accounts. Those accounts were supposed to be "segregated and secure," according to the federal suit, meaning MF Global could not draw on those funds.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of all 38,000 customers, alleges that when MF Global made a series of bad investments -- notably in European debt -- it began "siphoning funds withdrawn from segregated client accounts" to cover its debts.

"This is a suit by the real victims of MF Global," said plaintiffs' attorney Mark Baker of the law firm Anderson, Baker & Swanson. "The missing funds were not investments in MF Global, or loans to MF Global, but rather the customer's own money as collateral to guaranty their contracts. They were not to be used by others -- let alone their own broker -- to speculate on risky and exotic securities."

Corzine was at the helm of the firm when it declared Chapter 11 on Oct. 31, the eighth-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. Regulators initially thought $600 million in customer funds had gone missing, but later upped their estimate to $1.2 billion. Only 60 percent of customer funds could be found.

According to the February issue of Vanity Fair, Corzine, who reportedly made over $16 million between 2010 and 2011, was shopping for a chateau in France with his wife two weeks before MF Global filed for bankruptcy.

Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee in December, Corzine said he had no idea where the $1.2 billion in missing customer funds had gone and that investigators are still untangling what happened.

Later in the month, he appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee to deny any wrongdoing. "I never directed anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds. I never intended to, and as far as I'm concerned, I never gave instructions that anyone could misconstrue," said Corzine.

The lead plaintiff in the Montana suit, Martin Klinker, told ABC News that two of his accounts totaling nearly $600,000 are unaccounted for, leaving him with an uncertain future for his grain and cattle farm. "I have a tremendous amount of uncertainty. It's consumed my life," he said. Klinker runs his farm in Fairfield, Montana, with the help of his wife and four children.

Plaintiffs' attorney Mark Molumphy of the law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy told ABC News that if the farmers lose their money and crops are affected, consumers will feel it at the grocery store. "There could be less product and higher prices in the long term," said Molumphy.

Plaintiffs cannot sue MF Global while it is under bankruptcy protection, but can sue the company's former executives, including Corzine. The Montana suit names Corzine and other former top MF Global executives, as well as the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and JPMorgan Chase, the bank that held MF Global's funds. Other lawsuits filed on behalf of MF Global investors have also named Corzine and other members of MF Global's former management team.

Corzine, a Democrat, served as U.S. senator from New Jersey from 2001 to 2006. He was elected governor of New Jersey in November 2005. He became CEO of MF Global in March 2010 after losing his reelection bid to Chris Christie. Before entering politics he had amassed a fortune as CEO of Goldman Sachs. His personal wealth was estimated at $100 million in 2010.

A spokesperson for Jon Corzine declined to comment. PricewaterhouseCoopers and JPMorgan Chase also declined comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cotton Prices on the Rise

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With an increase in cotton prices, more farmers may plant the crop this season.

Experts say the price of cotton is at a 25-year high and the push is on to encourage farmers to consider planting this cash crop in their fields. Natural disasters around the world and lower exports are feeding into the demand.   

Across the nation, the cotton landscape is changing this season, because you'll likely see more of it growing.  Agriculture experts are encouraging farmers to plant every acre of cotton they can. Forecasts say the high cotton demand will continue for this growing season.

The Mid-South Farmers co-op says demand for cotton seed has increased from this time last year, but co-op experts say planting into the cotton market too heavily is risky business. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio