Over $400000 in grants and loans to Ag businesses, organizations


courtesy press release

Governor Steve Bullock and the Agriculture Development Council announced the recipients of $290,500 in grants and $121,500 in loans to agricultural businesses and organizations. A total of 12 businesses and organizations were awarded funds through the Growth Through Agriculture program,which was established by the legislature to strengthen and diversify Montanas agricultural industry by developing new agricultural products and processes.

These grants and loans will help grow and expand agricultural businesses and organizations across our state in conjunction with the Main Street Montana Projects directive to expand access to local foods and foster growth in the states agricultural sector. Its exciting to see the innovation and business development that is adding value to agriculture, said Governor Steve Bullock.

TheGrowth Through Agriculture program grants and loans are awarded by the Agriculture Development Council, a seven member committee appointed by the Governor.

One project will use locally grown Montana potatoes that may be deemed too lsquo;ugly for retail sale and would otherwise be composted to distill vodka and gin. Dry Hills Distillery, located in Bozeman, was granted $48,000 to purchase a potato peeler and dicer equipment to help automate the preparation process before distillation. The company expects to open a tasting room and distillery soon.

We had over $1 million dollars in financial requests again this cycle a testament to the interest in the program and the growth in Montanas food and agriculture sector. The Council was able to fund some very exciting projects that ranged from small poultry processing in the Bitterroot Valley to a new brewery in Glendive, said Agriculture Development Council Chair Amy Kellogg.

Schuldt Services will be using their $20,000 grant for a mobile sheep shearing trailer based out of Miles City. The grant will help purchase a gooseneck trailer and the materials to construct a modern shearing trailer and a hydraulic wool press for the sheep shearing operation.

The next application deadline for Growth Through Agriculture funding is Friday, January 29, 2016 at 2:00 pm The Council strongly encourages applicants to contact their local Food and Agriculture Development Centers and economic development organizations for assistance prior to submitting their application. More information is available on the programs website.

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Improve Your Money Karma and Give Back

One thing Ive learned through my years of experience in the financial world, is that nobody gets away with anything. If you didnt work like a dog in your 20s and you blew your money in your 30s and 40s, youre going to have to scrimp like crazy in your 50s and keep working well into your 60s. Thats Money Karma in action: reward or punishment, depending on your previous financial actions. Good Money Karma works like this: if you had a good financial plan and instituted it, you probably have enough. Now its time to give back.

In their later years, my mother Georgette and stepfather nestled into a comfortable retirement in Switzerland, but neither one of them really stopped working. For 15 years, George continued to consult for the World Bank and other organizations, making very little money but gaining a great sense of purpose because the economic policies he proposed helped people better their lives.

Meanwhile, my mother volunteered with womens organizations at the UN. Thirty years ago, she and a handful of friends began to make dolls and scarves sold at a bazaar to raise money for childrens causes around the world. It was informal to start. Mostly, it was an excuse for them to get together and socialize while doing something purposeful. Soon, other embassies started to sell things at the bazaar — maple syrup from the Canadian embassy, handcrafts from Nepal, and perfume from the French embassy.

After a while, this small group that called itself the United Nations Womens Guild eventually corralled 40 embassies in Geneva to participate. Today, this one-day UN bazaar brings in as much as $300,000 in sales, all donated to charity. That money has built sports facilities in Bogota and treated children with Cancer in Eypt. My mother was as proud of that work as anything shed ever done in her life — Money Karma in its purest form.

I like to set aside at least 5 percent of my after-tax income, funneling it to a few select charities that mean something to my wife, Linda, and I — like foundations that fight disease, or arts and cultural organizations. We call our charitable donations five in five. We select five charities or causes for five years and support those, rather than spreading our focus too widely. After five years pass, we assess and choose five more.

The method doesnt matter; the point is that good Money Karma goes beyond any tax break youll receive. There are health benefits to giving. Countless academic studies have come to the same conclusion: altruistic people live longer, healthier and happier lives. Therefore, theyre less of a financial burden on their families and on society. You give, you get.

That said, with Giving Tuesday just around the corner, I urge you to give whatever your budget allows to a cause thats important to you — whether thats five dollars, or five thousand. And if your bank account cant accommodate a financial donation this year, there are plenty of other ways to give. Make dolls and scarves to raise money like my mother Georgette did, spend some time helping at your local food bank, or volunteer at your charity of choice. My friends at Plumfund have lots of other ideas!

Its easy to give. Thats whats so Wonderful about it.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Plumfund, in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. In the series, well feature inspirational stories of giving and receiving from users and friends of Plumfund, the free crowdfunding site. Youll find one post every weekday in November leading up to Giving Tuesday. To learn more or start your own campaign, visit Plumfund.com.

How your money will change lives – from £3 to £100

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is not only one of the worlds leading childrens hospitals, but it also one of the oldest. There is a common misconception that its global reputation and history means it doesn’t need to rely on the public for donations. In fact, it is exactly for these reasons that it does.

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Westpac lets your smartphone’s camera activate new bank cards

Westpac customers will be able to use their smartphones camera to activate new debit and credit cards from this month.

The bank today said it had built optical character recognition technology into its Westpac Live mobile banking application to allow customers to scan their new card, confirm the details, and activate.

OCR technology converts images of typed, handwritten or printed text captured by a camera into searchable data.

The technology has been used by banks for decades as a way to decrease manual labor and increase efficiency, in areas from processing cheque numbers to reading handwriting on forms.

The functionwill allow Westpac customers to bypass lengthy phone or physical queues to activate their new cards.

Theservicewill be available for Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards and MasterCard debit cards from this month. The technology will work across both iOS and Android on the Westpac mobile banking app.

The bank said it had activated two million debit and credit cards in the past year.

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Iowa construction and development loans up

Construction and land development loans led an 8.4 percent increase in lending in the third quarter over the same time last year, according to the Iowa Bankers Association.

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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouse Is: Austin filmmakers on the promises and …

Thanksgiving is a time for contemplating our benefactors: friends, families, mentors. For independent filmmakers, that list expands as an increasing number turn to crowdfunding to raise all or part of their budget. Thats as true for Austin, and its ever-growing crowd of inventive and cash-strapped directors, as it is for any other film scene.

Crowdfunding is simple: A creator uses an online platform to ask people to back their next project. The sums can range from a single buck to a down payment on a house, and the perks and rewards are similarly tiered. Yet its early years were rocky. Initially, nobody trusted the idea of throwing money at some random strangers production. Then it became something seemingly reserved for small, independent creatives, with vitriolic backlash against celebrities like Zach Braff, who raised $3.1 million for his second feature, Wish I Was Here. Now it seems completely natural for a filmmaker to fall back on the kindness of strangers and fans. Moreover, studios are taking crowdfunded films seriously: Sony Pictures Classic acquired Don Cheadles Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead, and Fox Searchlight will distribute Super Troopers II, while Dear White People was a huge success for Lions Gate.

Marc Hofstatter, head of film for fundraising platform Indiegogo, sees that development as the standard growing pains of any disruptive technology. He said, What was HBO in the beginning? What was AMC in the beginning? It just takes time and a few strong case studies for someone to say, OK, this is legit, this makes sense.

While Kickstarter may be a bigger name in crowdfunding, Indiegogo was there first. Founded in 2008, its original focus was film production. When Hofstatter joined in 2013, he found it a welcome change from the decade he had spent in what he called traditional film, where projects dawdle and die. His office doesnt just sit passively while the ambitious and the hopeful shake the digital collection tray, but serves as a resource to make sure they hit their target, and start shooting. He said, This is the way I wanted to work with filmmakers at the beginning of my career, but I never really had the opportunity to do so.

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Tips for Giving Gift Cards

There are two basic types. Merchant-specific gift cards bear the name of a retailer or restaurant and are redeemable only at that spot. Bank cards carry the logo of a payment card network like American Express, MasterCard, or Visa*. They can be spent wherever that payment method is accepted. Bank cards usually have a purchase fee of $4 to $6.

Consumer Reports used to warn people about bank cards because they often came with short expiration dates, service charges, and inactivity fees. In fact, our opposition to them became the cornerstone of a highly publicized campaign for more consumer-friendly regulations. Since federal rules took effect in 2010 addressing the worst problems, we no longer advise consumers not to use them.

Today, cards can’t expire for at least five years from the purchase date or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto it. If the expiration date is earlier than either of those dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost. Issuers are required to disclose expiration dates and any fees on the card or packaging; inactivity fees kick in only after a year.

Zac Goldsmith: black cabs should accept all types of bank cards to compete …

Zac Goldsmith today set out plans for London’s 22,500 black cabs to accept all types of cards – including contactless – to try to level the playing field with Uber.

The Tory mayoral candidate would require all cabbies to install card terminals at no extra cost to themselves within six months if he wins next year’s election.

Almost nine in ten Londoners say they want to pay by card, according to research, but currently only half of cabbies accept them due to rental charges as high as £30 a month as well as commission fees.

Mr Goldsmith said he would use Transport for London’s buying power to negotiate a deal with card terminal operators to keep costs down.

It would be the first step in the Tory MP’s plan to ensure black cabs can thrive in a world of on-demand apps and greater consumer choice. 

Under the proposal, cabs would not be forced to use one payment system – but every Londoner who uses one must be able to pay by card.

Mr Goldsmith said: “If elected as Mayor, I will stand up for black cabs and help them do what they do best – provide one of the safest and most convenient forms of transport in London. 

 “More Londoners would use black cabs if they could pay by card, so I’ll make sure they can. This is an important first step in levelling the playing field and delivering greater choice and convenience for Londoners.”

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Slovenian banks reduced bad loans by 630 million euros in Jan-Sept 2015

LJUBLJANA Nov 24 Slovenian loan repayments
delayed by 90 days or more fell by 630 million euros in the
first nine months of 2015 from about 4.4 billion euros at the
end of 2014, the Bank of Slovenia said on Tuesday.

It also said non-performing loans which include repayment
delays of at least 90 days plus loans that have only a small
possibility of being repaid, represent some 5.5 billion euros or
20 percent of all loans, according to a newly-established
European Banking Authority standard.

The problem of bad loans is being resolved, bad loans are
being reduced … but the process of reducing the amount of bad
loans is expected to continue for at least another five years,
Vice Governor Stanislava Zadravec Caprirolo told a news

She pointed out that Slovenian banks have sufficient capital
at present in spite of a relatively high amount of bad loans.
The central bank added 80 percent of those loans have already
been covered by provisions.

In 2013 large amount of bad loans in mostly state-owned
local banks almost pushed Slovenia into an international

In December 2013 the government poured more than 3 billion
euros into local banks to prevent them from collapsing under bad
loans. In this way it also enabled the country to avoid a

Slovenia has been reluctant to sell its major banks over the
past decades so the government still controls about 50 percent
of the countrys banking sector.

In June the government sold Slovenias third largest bank
Nova KBM (NKBM) to US investment firm Apollo Global Management
, while further sales of state banks are planned in the
coming years.

(Reporting By Marja Novak Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

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Autumn Statement 2015: what it means for your money

Autumn Statement 2015: what it means for your money

Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Autumn Statement and Spending Review. Here are the major measures impacting our finances.

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