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Debt relief for U.S. minority farmers coming in June – USDA

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday it will start erasing an estimated $4 billion dollars in debt to minority farmers in June, as it seeks to address racial discrimination.

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A view of a container filled with oranges and a ladder during a harvest at a farm in Lake Wales, Florida, U.S., April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Marco Bello

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday it will start erasing an estimated $4 billion dollars in debt to minority farmers in June, as it seeks to address racial discrimination.

The Biden administration hopes to make right with Black and other minority farmers, who for decades have lost farmland in legal disputes and been denied loans and government assistance.

The American Rescue Plan Act, which became law in March, directed the USDA to pay off all farm debt held by “socially disadvantaged” minority farmers. It faced opposition from some white farmers and concern from banks.[L1N2KF3CT]

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the payments are needed because minority farmers did not have full access to USDA programs over the last 100 years.

“Chances are pretty good that you weren’t able to be competitive with white farmers, in purchasing land and purchasing equipment, having your crop planted at the right time,” he said in an interview.

“In some cases, those policies were designed specifically to remove socially disadvantaged farmers from their land.”

The legislation did not allocate a specific amount, but the USDA estimates $3.9 billion in farm-related debt is owed by minority farmers to the federal government and private banks. Payments will go out to banks and farmers in June after USDA confirms amounts with some 15,000 farmers by mail.

A century of discrimination against minority farmers has been documented since the late 1990s, when a group of Black farmers sued the agency in the case Pigford v. Glickman, later known as the Pigford settlement.

Lucious Abrams Jr, a 68-year-old farmer from Waynesboro, Georgia, was one of the plaintiffs, after the USDA denied and delayed him access to loans. He is frustrated it has taken months to roll out the debt relief.

“Nothing has transpired! This was done three months ago,” he said. “But they’re telling people you’ve got to write in.”

Abrams once farmed nearly 2,000 acres (810 hectares) of Georgia farmland, but has lost all but 600 acres, which he rents to other growers because he cannot get an operating loan, due to around $500,000 in outstanding USDA loan debt.

“I fought off foreclosure two times to keep them from putting me out of my house,” he said. “You were handcuffed.”

The debt-relief plan has drawn criticism from some agriculture lenders, however.

“The vast majority of these lenders are smaller, community banks that were planning on income from these loans,” said Edwin Elfmann, senior vice president of agriculture and rural banking policy at the American Banking Association, in a May 19 letter to Secretary Vilsack.

The payments represent less than 1% of all U.S. farm sector debt, which USDA estimated at $432.1 billion in 2020.

Vilsack said the benefits to lenders outweigh the risks, as many farm loans include a prepayment penalty, which protects the lender in the event of an early payoff. He said banks would be paid principle and interest and could loan the money out again.

A non-profit organization called American First Legal, led by former President Donald Trump’s advisor Steven Miller, filed suit against the Biden administration in April, claiming the debt relief provisions “excludes many potential beneficiaries based solely upon their ethnicity or race.”

Vilsack said white farmers have long had opportunities denied to Black farmers and received a larger proportion of the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief payments.

“With all due respect, white farmers have been treated pretty doggone well, especially during this COVID situation,” he said. “They shouldn’t feel discriminated against.”

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“Chances are pretty good that you weren’t able to be competitive with white farmers, in purchasing land and purchasing equipment, having your crop planted at the right time,” he said in an interview.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/debt-relief-us-minority-farmers-coming-june-usda-2021-05-21/

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Reuters

Chinese social media platforms to “rectify” financial self-media accounts

China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

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WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SHANGHAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

This follows an announcement by China’s cyberspace regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), that it would look into accounts that have repeatedly released financial news illegally, distorted economic policy interpretation, badmouthed financial markets, spread rumours and disrupted network communications.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Wechat said in a statement on Saturday that from now until Oct. 26, it would investigate and shut down financial self-media accounts that “badmouth the financial market” and “blackmail and spread rumors.”

Sina Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou also released similar statements on Saturday, reported the Global Times, with Sina Weibo and Kuaishou adding that they would severely crack down on accounts that violate the rules.

The announcements come amid a recent crackdown by Beijing on the tech sector, with the latest regulations targeting “chaotic” celebrity fan culture and algorithms that technology companies use to drive their business. read more

China is also framing rules to ban internet companies whose data poses potential security risks from listing outside the country, including in the United States. read more

Reporting by Emily Chow. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-social-media-platforms-rectify-financial-self-media-accounts-2021-08-28/

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Death toll rises to 77 from Turkey floods, 47 reported missing

The death toll from flash floods that swept through several towns in Turkish Black Sea provinces last week has risen to 77 people and emergency workers are continuing to search for 47 who are missing, authorities said on Monday.

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A damaged vehicle and a partially collapsed building are seen following the flash floods that swept through towns in the Turkish Black Sea region, in the town of Ilisi, in Kastamonu province, Turkey, August 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Caliskan

ISTANBUL, Aug 16 (Reuters) – The death toll from flash floods that swept through several towns in Turkish Black Sea provinces last week has risen to 77 people and emergency workers are continuing to search for 47 who are missing, authorities said on Monday.

The floods last week brought chaos as torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, destroyed buildings and bridges, closed roads and damaged electricity infrastructure.

Sixty-two people died as a result of floods in Kastamonu province. Another 14 people died in Sinop and one in Bartin, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said.

Forty-seven people were reported missing in Kastamonu and Sinop, it said, adding that seven others were receiving treatment in hospital.

Drone footage showed massive damage in the town of Bozkurt in Kastamonu province, where rescue teams searched demolished buildings at the weekend.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated from affected areas, some with the help of helicopters and boats, AFAD said, adding that more than 8,500 personnel were involved in the emergency response efforts.

Weather forecasters warned of further flooding due to expected heavy rainfall on Monday in Black Sea provinces to the east of the regions affected last week.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Drone footage showed massive damage in the town of Bozkurt in Kastamonu province, where rescue teams searched demolished buildings at the weekend.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/death-toll-rises-70-turkey-floods-47-reported-missing-2021-08-16/

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Chipmaker TSMC says too early to say on Germany expansion

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

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The logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is pictured at its headquarters, in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Jan. 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI, July 26 (Reuters) – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

The European Commission had held discussions with global chip giants, including Intel (INTC.O) and TSMC, as the EU seeks to boost semiconductor production and shield itself from shocks in the global supply chain. read more

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

“We are currently doing reviews on Germany seriously, but it’s still in very early stages,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu told an annual shareholder meeting when asked about building chip fabrication plants in the EU country.

“We continue to communicate with our major clients in Germany to see whether this is most important and effective for our clients,” he said. “It’s too early to say.”

TSMC signalled in July plans to build new factories in the United States and Japan amid concern over the concentration of chipmaking capability in Taiwan, which produces most of the world’s most advanced chips and is geographically close to political rival China. read more

On TSMC’s $12 billion factory in the U.S. state of Arizona, Liu said the expansion would support client demand, especially in infrastructure and national security.

“Clients are the backing of our global expansion. We will move very cautiously,” Liu said, adding that the company’s customers would help share costs of overseas operations.

TSMC announced this year plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity, riding on what it called a “multiple years of growth opportunities”, as the COVID-19 pandemic and new technologies drove global demand for advanced chips.

Reporting By Yimou Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/chipmaker-tsmc-says-too-early-say-germany-expansion-2021-07-26/

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