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Tuesday
Oct082019

Walgreens and Kroger to stop selling e-cigarettes

danchooalex/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Walgreens and Kroger, two of the country's largest retailers, will stop selling e-cigarettes amid growing health and safety concerns.

Walgreens said in a statement Monday, "We have made the decision to stop selling e-cigarette products at our stores nationwide as the CDC, FDA and other health officials continue to examine the issue."

"Kroger is discontinuing the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products, or e-cigarettes, at all store and fuel center locations due to the mounting questions and increasingly-complex regulatory environment associated with these products," Kroger said in a statement also on Monday. "The company will exit this category after selling through its current inventory."

The decisions follow nationwide concern over e-cigarettes and vaping, with 1,080 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with the product as of Oct. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least 21 people have died from lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes, according to the CDC and state agencies.

Though there are few answers as to the exact cause of the illnesses and deaths, officials say many of the people who have become sick reported vaping THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

While e-cigarette products have been around since 2007, their popularity has recently skyrocketed.

One of the most prominent e-cigarette products, JUUL, was sued Monday by two public school districts that lambasted the company for getting kids addicted to nicotine and creating a vaping epidemic, according to the lawsuits.

The Francis Howell School District, in St. Charles, Missouri, said "JUUL successfully created a misleading impression that JUUL products were intended for youth and healthy" and that the company "succeeded in addicting a generation of youth to nicotine."

The Olathe Public Schools district in Johnson County, Kansas, claimed "JUUL's tortious and illegal conduct has given rise to an epidemic of vaping across America and within Plaintiff's School District."

JUUL did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

In late September, Walmart announced they would no longer sell e-cigarettes. At the time, the CDC had confirmed 530 probable cases of people who have experienced lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vape products.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Airlines offer programs to help people with autism, other developmental disabilities

VvoeVale/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Airline travel is often stressful for people not on the autism spectrum -- the crowds, the lines, the rules, the tight quarters.

Now imagine you're a person who struggles to make sense of the world around you. Crowds might be overwhelming; sounds may present as too loud; and taking off your shoes doesn't make any sense.

There are 61 million Americans living with a disability, whether physical, developmental or both. And they fly.

In recent years airlines have stepped up both training and offerings for those living with disabilities.

Delta Air Lines' Taking Flight Tour is a monthly guided tour at Atlanta and Minneapolis airports to provide customers the opportunity to navigate the air travel experience in a realistic, relaxed environment.

The tour walks participants through the air travel experience starting with the check-in process, going through screening, waiting in the gate area and boarding the aircraft with Delta pilots and flight attendants.

Atlanta even offers a multisensory room for customers that provides a calming space for children, individuals with disabilities and their families as they travel.

On American Airlines, the "It's Cool to Fly" program is a similar mock travel experience.

Families concerned about their kids dealing with the hustle and bustle of air travel are able to experience nearly every aspect of it without actually taking off. They park, check-in, wait at the gate, board, taxi, return to the gate and retrieve their luggage. The experience lasts about 3 1/2 hours and moves from airport to airport.

JetBlue, which periodically offers the "Blue Horizons" program along with nonprofit Autism Speaks, also offers a simulated flight experience complete with applied behavior analysts at the event.

United's "Wings for All" is done in conjunction with The Arc of Texas and runs a real-life simulation of the air travel experience at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston twice a year. Families practice getting boarding passes, passing through security check, waiting in the boarding area and boarding an airplane. On the plane, they buckle up, have a beverage and snack, and listen to the captain’s announcements and can practice using the seats, tray tables and aircraft restrooms.

Wings for All is not limited to United; it's a national program with events all over the nation.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Beauty, fashion brands are giving back for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

ozok/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in full effect, and brands have been empowered to give back in really big ways.

Rihanna's popular Savage X Fenty lingerie brand has jumped on board by launching limited edition styles that celebrate breast cancer survivors.

The popular label has come together with the Clara Lionel Foundation to release limited-edition Savage X Thrivers special styles to stand together with a lesser-known group of young women living with aggressive forms of breast cancer.

"I want to raise awareness for under-served breast cancer communities and the Savage X Thrivers VIP Box represent young women of all walks of life living and thriving with cancer," Rihanna said in a statement. "The easiest way for people to get involved and make a difference is by shopping this box and collection."

The $60 Savage X Thrivers VIP Box includes an assortment of pink styles, and is available in a wide range of sizes that include 32A to 42H in bras, and XS to 3X in everything else.

In addition to the exclusive breast cancer-themed box, Savage X Fenty will also be highlighting Thrivers and sharing their unique stories throughout the month.

Read below to learn about more brands giving back:

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren will donate 100% of proceeds from 2019 Pink Pony Collection light pink "Live Love" graphic T-shirts to the Pink Pony Fund of The Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation as well as other international networks and cancer charities.

IT Cosmetics

The well-known beauty brand has launched a new Love Beauty Fully Love is the Foundation Brush at Ulta for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For each one purchased, one will be donated to the Look Good Feel Better program to help women face appearance-related side effects of cancer with confidence.

Gap

The brand has vowed to donate 10% of sales from select bra styles to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation with a maximum donation of $100,000 while supplies last. Participating bra styles are indicated online with "This Bra Gives Back!"

Olay

Olay has launched a limited edition pink and refillable jar of its best-selling Olay Regenerist Whip product. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, 100% of proceeds will benefit Bright Pink.

Bev x Outdoor Voices

The trendy canned California rosé brand has partnered with athletic apparel retailer Outdoor Voices to launch an exclusive Bev x Outdoor Voices Cans For Cans Bundle Package that includes a Party Pack of Bev (12 cans) and Outdoor Voices' iconic Athena Crop in Flamingo Pink. They'll donate 25% of proceeds to Bright Pink.

Kinkō

This personal-care brand introduced its first Microbiomix Balancing Deodorant in July 2019. For October, there will be a limited edition Sakura Rose version of it with 10% of every sale going to The Rose Foundation.

Macy's

This month, Macy's has teamed up with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to donate 20% of sales to the department store's Idealogy collection.

GHD

GHD has teamed up with tattoo artist David Allen to launch an ink-on-pink collection. David is known for making art out of mastectomy scars, empowering women to take back their bodies after breast cancer, and creating powerful designs for the brand's platinum+ and gold stylers.

With every purchase, $10 goes directly to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

AnaOno

For AnaOno's GIVE or GET initiative, breast cancer patients who are in need of extra support to lessen the financial burden of breast cancer can use code OCTGET10 to GET 10% off. Alternatively, the brand is giving 10% of sales made this month to Living Beyond Breast Cancer for all customers who are empowered to give.

Elemis

Elemis has debuted Pro-Collegen Marine Cream Supersize that can be purchased throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Regardless of sales made, the brand promises to donate a minimum of $25,000 to The Pink Agenda.

Sneaker Room x Nike

The go-to New Jersey-based boutique has joined forces with Nike to unveil the React Element 87 SR QS sneaker. The company will donate 100% of proceeds to breast cancer awareness initiatives.

Sigma Beauty

The cosmetics brand has created a limited-edition 3DHD Perfect Complexion Set for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A donation of 20% of the profits made will be made to Bright Pink.

Brahmin

Honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Brahmin brought back its pink collection with a portion of proceeds benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Fawn Design

The accessories designer line is offering 20% off their entire Blush Collection. A donation of 10% of proceeds will be made to The Breasties.

Avon

Avon is contributing 15% of sales of the brand's Kiss of Hope Nourishing Lipstick, Blush of Hope Radiant Blush and Kiss of Hope Lip Dew to American Cancer Society’s breast cancer programs and services.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Disney Store at Target launches online and at select locations nationwide

Target(NEW YORK) -- If you’re sensing a little extra pixie dust at a Target near you, you’re supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ly correct.

Twenty-five Target stores across the country just got a little more magical with the launch of the all-new Disney store at Target "shop-in-shop."

The retail experience is also available for all online.

It's got gadgets and gizmos aplenty -- 450, in fact -- including classic Disney plush, apparel, home and holiday-specific products that will fill the shelves, plus more Disney Princess, Star Wars and Disney Junior characters products.

The selection of products also includes over 100 items previously available only at Disney retail locations that are being made available with Disney stores at Target, including newly unveiled merchandise from Frozen 2, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.

You'll find the 750-square-foot Disney store at Target footprint adjacent to the kids clothing and toys areas, and it will be expanding to even more Target locations in the year to come.

Complete with a fully immersive Disney experience, the Disney store at Target concept is for the entire family to enjoy: interactive displays, photo opportunities and a seating area where families can relax and watch Disney movie clips and play games.

Mickey’s magic hat, life-size lightsabers and prince and princess crowns are also on hand to try on throughout the space.

It's a "revolutionary collaboration," according to Ken Potrock, president of Disney Consumer Products Commercialization.

"Our fans are always looking for fun and unique ways to connect authentically with Disney’s iconic characters and stories," he added.

The retail partnership was first announced at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, in August, and is part of a larger ongoing collaboration between Target and Disney.

Here's a list of where you'll find Disney store at Target right now:

  • Allen North #2516: Allen, Texas
  • Austin NW #1797: Austin, Texas
  • Bozeman #1237: Bozeman, Montana
  • Brighton #922: Brighton, Michigan
  • Chicago Brickyard #1924: Chicago
  • Clearwater #1820: Clearwater, Florida
  • Denver Stapleton #2052: Denver
  • Edmond #1398: Edmond, Oklahoma
  • Euless #1368: Euless, Texas
  • Houston North Central #1458: Spring, Texas
  • Jacksonville Mandarin #1300: Jacksonville, Florida
  • Keizer #2110: Keizer, Oregon
  • Lake Stevens #1331: Lake Stevens, Washington
  • Leesburg #1874: Leesburg, Virginia
  • Loveland #1178: Loveland, Colorado
  • Maple Grove North #2193: Maple Grove, Minnesota
  • Mobile West #1376: Mobile, Alabama
  • Murrieta #1283: Murrieta, California
  • New Lenox #2028: New Lenox, Illinois
  • Pasadena #1396: Pasadena, Texas
  • Philadelphia West #2124: Philadelphia
  • San Jose College Park #2088: San Jose, California
  • South Jordan #2123: South Jordan, Utah
  • Stroudsburg #1260: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Waterford Park #2068: Clarksville, Indiana

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Oct072019

Southwest pilots sue Boeing for $100 million over lost wages from 737 MAX

:Robert Michaud/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Southwest Arilines' pilots union has filed a lawsuit against Boeing for $100 million over lost wages from the grounding of 737 MAX jets in the wake of two crashes and a myriad of safety issues.

The lawsuit was filed in Dallas County, Texas, and alleges that Boeing represented the planes as "airworthy and essentially the same as the timetested 737 aircraft that its pilots have flown for years." The union called that assertion "false."

"As pilots, there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our passengers," Capt. Jonathan L. Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said in a statement. "We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft. In the case of the 737 MAX, that absolutely did not happen."

More than 30,000 flights have been grounded by Southwest, which has resulted in an 8% decrease in service in 2019, and thus the $100 million in lost compensation, according to the SWAPA.

The lawsuit is seeking that Boeing pay for the lost compensation and all other “losses associated with the 737 MAX grounding,” and other relief they may be entitled, according to court documents. A similar suit was filed Oct. 1 by the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing American Airlines pilots

"As Southwest Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly previously stated, all Southwest Employees have been impacted by the MAX grounding and it is our intention to allocate, as appropriate, any compensation received from a Boeing business settlement among all Employees via ProfitSharing," Southwest said in a statement. "As always, we will take care of each one of our nearly 60,000 Southwest Employees."

Governments and airlines around the world have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts since March after two crashes within six months of each other -- in October 2018 and March 2019 -- that killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing said in a statement it plans to "vigorously" fight the lawsuit.

"Boeing has the greatest respect for the men and women who fly for Southwest Airlines," Boeing said in a statement. "We are aware that their pilot union, SWAPA, has filed a lawsuit against Boeing related to the 737 MAX suspension of operations. While we value our long relationship with SWAPA, we believe this lawsuit is meritless and will vigorously defend against it. We will continue to work with Southwest Airlines and its pilots on efforts to safely return the MAX to service."

In March, an Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying 157 people crashed near Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Like the crash of a Lion Air jet near Indonesia in October, officials believe a misfiring automatic safety system caused the deadly crash.

Boeing has been working for months to fix the issue and then receive government approval to put the planes back into service.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Oct072019

Your grocery bills will 'significantly go up' with new EU tariffs, experts say 

NDStock/iStock(LONDON) -- The slew of new tariffs on European goods set to take effect later this month could mean your grocery or restaurant bill might see a sharp increase just as the holiday season approaches.

What started as an international trade dispute over subsidies in the airline industry, resulted in the World Trade Organization "awarding" the U.S. the ability to slap tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of goods from the European Union.

While some of those tariffs are directed at aircrafts, a large amount of them fell on agricultural goods, mostly from France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., sending producers abroad and importers in the U.S. reeling.

A 25% tariff on German coffee, Scotch whiskey, British biscuits, Spanish olives, Italian cheeses, French wines and many more are among the myriad of tariffs on EU goods set to go into effect on Oct. 18.

Grocery bills could rise 'at least 25 to 40%'

Americans' grocery bills are going to "significantly go up, at least 25 to 40%, depending on the retailer," Phil Kafarakis, the president of the Specialty Food Association, told ABC News Monday.

Because of the short warning producers and exporters were given for the tariffs, Kafarakis said the costs would likely go straight to the consumers.

"These tariffs are coming at a time with a two-week notice when inventories are being readjusted, so it's such a short period of time for the supply chain, so we believe they are going to be passed right on to the consumers," he said. "It's sad going into the holidays in particular."

When it comes to restaurants that don't often have an inventory built up the way a grocery store would, "you're going to see a broad range immediate price increase" on menus, Kafarakis said.

While these goods may be coming from Europe, "it's not that this is caviar or high-end champagne," Kafarakis said, adding that most everyday consumers will likely be impacted.

We are 'caught in a political game and food is being used as weapon'

Across the pond, many food exporters are also reeling with the news.

Karen Betts, the chief executive of the Scottish Whiskey Association, called the 25% tariff a "blow" to their industry, saying that Single Malt Scotch Whisky represents "over half of the total value of UK products on the US Government tariff list (amounting to over $460 million)."

"For the last 25 years, trade in spirits between Europe and the US has been tariff-free. In that time, exports of Scotch Whisky to the US and of American Whiskey to the UK and Europe have grown significantly, benefitting communities on both sides of the Atlantic, boosting investment, employment and prosperity for all," Betts said.

Antoine Leccia, the president of the French Association of Wine and Spirit Exporters (FEVS), lamented the tariffs announcement, saying they, "will severely impact French wine producers and exporters, but also our customers and consumers in the United States" and are "good news for no one."

In Ireland, where the beloved Kerrygold butter comes from, the Irish Farmers Association Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan noted that Kerrygold is now the second-highest selling butter brand in the U.S., and other exporters have entered the exporting butter market in recent times as well.

“These tariffs have the potential to reduce margins or market share or both," Phelan said, calling on the EU and the Irish government to "make every effort to negotiate our way back to normal trade flows."

Kafarakis said they don't see this coming to an end anytime soon.

"We’re still scratching our heads thinking what do we have to do with this as a food industry," Kafarakis said of the tariffs on foods and agricultural products that came out of the EU's subsidies for Airbus. "We are kind of caught in a political game and food is being used as weapon which is really disappointing."

While consumers are likely to take a hit from these tariffs, "It's going to devastate these family-run retail operations" and hurt "small businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly in the food industry."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Oct072019

PayPal pulls out of Facebook's cryptocurrency venture Libra

JasonDoiy/iStock(NEW YORK) -- PayPal announced it is pulling its participation in Facebook's cryptocurrency venture Libra, despite supporting it since its founding.

"PayPal has made the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra Association at this time and to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations," PayPal told ABC News in a statement Monday.

The statement added that the company will "remain supportive of Libra’s aspirations and look forward to continued dialogue on ways to work together in the future" and noted that Facebook has been a "valued strategic partner to PayPal" who it hopes to continue to work with in the future.

Libra confirmed PayPal's withdrawal to ABC News and Dante Disparte, the head of policy and communications for Libra, told ABC News in a statement that they were better off knowing about their lack of commitment "now, rather than later."

"It requires a certain boldness and fortitude to take on an endeavor as ambitious as Libra - a generational opportunity to get things right and improve financial inclusion. The journey will be long and challenging," Disparte said.

"The type of change that will reconfigure the financial system to be tilted towards people, not the institutions serving them, will be hard," the statement added. "Commitment to that mission is more important to us than anything else. We’re better off knowing about this lack of commitment now, rather than later."

Facebook announced in June that it would launch Libra, its own cryptocurrency, in 2020, and faced almost immediate backlash.

“Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at a U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee hearing in July. "These are concerns that should be thoroughly and publicly addressed before proceeding."

Dan Schulman, the president and CEO of PayPal, said in a statement as Libra was being founded earlier this year that his company is "pleased to join other leading technology and financial services organizations to form Libra, with the goal of exploring a new, global digital currency, built on blockchain technology."

News that PayPal is pulling out of Libra comes after reports that other founding organizations are having second thoughts as well.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Visa Inc., and MasterCard Inc., among others were reconsidering their involvement in Libra, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Oct072019

Award-winning Journalist Ann Curry on the worst advice she never took

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- “The worst advice I've ever received, it was when I was told that women have no news judgment,” award-winning journalist Ann Curry told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis.

“My mouth said, ‘Please give me a chance, I'm going to do a really good job,’' Curry said. "And my brain said, ‘Oh yeah watch me.’”

If there is anyone who would go on to prove that statement to be patently false, it would be Ann Curry. She began her career as an intern for a then-NBC affiliate in Medford, Oregon, where her responsibilities included fetching mail and operating studio cameras. Ultimately, her goal was to become a reporter, and it was then that she received her “worst advice” from her then-boss.

“There was no evidence that he believed that women could do the job. There had never been a woman in the newsroom before, and on top of that, this was happening in a place where there were very few people who looked like me,” she said.

“Besides Ann," she remembers being told, "you can't carry the camera so you should not become a reporter.”

But she wasn’t deterred. She would go on to become the station’s first female reporter, and it would be the beginning of a 40-year career in media.

“When I was given a goodbye party...the person who said that to me, he pulled me aside and said 'Ann, I don't want you to let anything I ever said to you stop you from your dreams because you can go all the way,’ Curry recalled. "And I thought that was one of my greatest achievements, that I had transformed somebody's thinking about what was possible.”

Two women were hired after Curry's departure, and today she says women make up more than half of that newsroom.

Curry moved onto a larger market in Portland, Oregon, and then to a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles where she would win multiple Emmy Awards for her reporting. She eventually joined NBC News, first as a correspondent and eventually as a newsreader and then as co-host of Today, where she would spend nearly 15 years. Her career would take her around the world, covering international conflicts in places like Syria, Afghanistan and Darfur.

“If people are voiceless and there is something unjust that is occurring or something that can be changed -- suffering that can be changed -- because we connect them to the wider world, we should do it," Curry said. "That is our job. We're supposed to shine light in places of darkness. That's our job.”

Her departure from the show in 2012 would make headlines as she tearfully signed off on-air as she sat alongside co-host Matt Lauer. Lauer would later be fired after a female colleague accused him of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

Looking back, Curry says she would’ve told herself, “it's going to be alright" -- and she was correct.

After leaving NBC in 2015, she started her own production company and is now the anchor and executive producer of TNT and TBS’s Chasing the Cure. The show, which combines a weekly live broadcast with a digital component, helps people who are dealing with and suffering from, medical mysteries.

Chasing the Cure is an effort to connect people who are underserved, undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and connect them directly with doctors who can help,” she said. “This is giving voice to the voiceless.”

Hear more from Curry on episode #130 of the "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis" podcast.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Oct062019

Negotiations to end strike by 49,000 GM workers has 'taken a turn for the worse': UAW

JHVEPhoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Negotiations to end a nationwide strike by 49,000 General Motors workers have "taken a turn for the worse" after union leaders said their latest proposal to end the walkout was brushed off by the company.

Sunday marked the 22nd day of the strike and there appears to be no end in sight as the union and the auto manufacturing giant reached another stumbling block in their on-going bargaining sessions.

"These negotiations have taken a turn for the worse," Terry Dittes, vice president of the United Auto Workers union, said in a letter to striking workers on Sunday. "Your issues are our issues, and our strength is with you, our great Membership. We will continue to negotiate on behalf of you, your families and all workers in our country."

Dittes told workers that the UAW's bargaining committee along with UAW international staff presented a new proposal to GM on Saturday afternoon that addressed numerous issues, including wage hikes, job security and profit-sharing.

"The Company’s response did not address our extensive package provided last evening. They reverted back to their last rejected proposal and made little change," Dittes wrote in his letter. "The Company’s response did nothing to advance a whole host of issues that are important to you and your families! It did nothing to provide job security during the term of this Agreement."

Dittes said union negotiators "could not be more disappointed" with GM's refusal to "recognize the experience and talent of our Membership who make their world-class products and billions of dollars in profits."

In a response to Dittes' letter, GM officials issued a statement on Sunday saying that they “continue to negotiate in good faith with very good proposals that benefit employees today and builds a stronger future for all of us."

"We are committed to continuing discussions around the clock to reach a resolution,” GM's statement reads.

The apparent setback in the negotiations came just two days after Dittes told UAW members that they were making "good progress regarding the issues of health care and a path for temporary employees becoming seniority members."

Union workers walked off their jobs on Sept. 16 and formed picket lines, 24 hours after the workers' four-year labor contract expired.

GM officials said they have offered to invest more than $7 billion in the United States, add more than 5,400 jobs and improve benefits.

Union leaders have argued that GM workers deserved a bigger slice of the company's record profits, which they say have totaled $35 billion in North America over the last three years. In August, GM reported solid second-quarter earnings with income up $2.4 billion, an increase of 1.6% over the previous year.

The strike comes nearly a year after GM announced it was laying off 15 percent of its salaried workers and shuttering five plants in North America. At the time, the company said it was "transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skillsets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Oct062019

US-China trade war forcing many farmers to take 2nd jobs to make ends meet

iStock/Sean Comiskey(OMAHA, Nebraska) -- A nine and a half hour drive from Illinois to Nebraska is a regular day in the life for corn and soybean farmer Mark Tuttle. Five days a week, the DeKalb County native transports seeds and other agricultural products, his workdays sometimes nearing 12 hours on the road.

Despite receiving his first payment from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP), Tuttle told ABC News that many farmers within his community depend on side businesses to earn additional income.

MFP was announced on May 23 by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue as a response to the ongoing trade war between China and the United States. President Donald Trump authorized $16 billion of aid to assist American farmers who might have faced any losses and damages caused by imposing tariffs.

In May, Trump said the aid package would enable farmers to do well and “make the same kind of money.”

"Farmers have been great. We are helping them with assistance as much as we can," Larry Kudlow, Director of the United States National Economic Council, said in August. "We'll help them more if need be."

Yet full assistance from MFP and other government programs remains to be seen, and for farmers like Tuttle, maintaining previous income levels has been a major challenge.

“I’m driving trucks to Nebraska because farming isn’t paying me,” he said. “It’s been a struggle to make ends meet, and MFP is just a small band-aid on an open wound.”

Tuttle considers himself lucky, after seeing another farmer 30 miles away, sell his machinery and shut down his farm.

Soybean and corn farmers have taken a particularly forceful hit as a result of the trade war. Both the 2018 and 2019 tariffs impacted corn, soybean, wheat and dairy producers because of limited markets, and subsequently, a drop in the selling price of soybeans.

Chinese officials are scheduled to hold trade talks in Washington with the U.S. this coming week.

"China's coming in next week," Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday. "We're going to have a meeting with them. We'll see. But we're doing very well."

Tom Corcoran of the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association said tariffs caused the market to drop significantly. Whereas in 2018 he sold his soybeans at $9.50 to $10 a bushel, Corcoran now struggles to sell them at above $8.50.

As a result, he says trucking constitutes one-third of his income and is necessary to help replace the money being lost from the tariffs.

“I’m always a bit overwhelmed because there’s too much on my plate,” Corcoran told ABC News. “I’m at risk of lawsuits from potential road accidents, and it gets tiring.”

Like Tuttle, the New York farmer signed up for MFP, which he says does not pay very much, roughly less than $40 an acre depending on the county.

“One of the first thoughts in my head, when I wake up in the morning, is how am I going to pay my bills? I’m fortunate to have my sideline. If I lose a little, it’s not good, but it’s not detrimental," Corcoran said. "But for people who have more acres, they don’t have time.”

For some farmers, their frustration does not stop at MFP. Seth Pritchard, a member of the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association and Trump supporter, says that within his community, patience among farmers is wearing thin for the Trump administration. Though many identify as Republican, Pritchard says the longer the trade war drags on, the harder it is for the group to remain supportive of the president.

Similarly to other farmers, Pritchard is signed up for MFP and maintains his income by caring for other community residents’ horses, a task he says he would not be doing if the effects of the tariffs were not so detrimental.

He does not see MFP as a solution; instead, he believes farmers shouldn’t be placed in a position where they must apply for payments to support their income.

South Dakota farmer, Nick Nemec echoes this sentiment, believing farmers in his community need open trade, not “government welfare checks” that do not come close to covering market losses.

“Payments are simply an attempt to buy off farmers and to make up for the trade war damage, but it hasn’t made up for the damages at all," he told ABC News. "We still have to make up for lost income elsewhere."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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