In the Midst of 3-Year Price Slump, Dairy Farmers Must Adapt or Die

For the last three years, U.S. dairy farmers have been struggling with the longest price slump in recent memory. Already, some farmers have either lost their dairy farms or sought alternative forms of revenue. Dairy farmers are producing milk faster than Americans can drink it, leading to the third year in a row for declining dairy prices. As farmers struggle to maintain their farms and make ends meet, many farms have gone under. Wisconsin, the United States’ largest dairy producer, has lost nearly 5% of its dairy farms statewide from 2016 to 2017. How bad is the dairy slump? In the insurance world, agricultural “catastrophes” have a clear meaning. A catastrophe is defined as a series of closely related incidents causing in excess of $25 million. In that sense, the dairy slump is a clear catastrophe. Some farmers have begun to strategize a comeback through alternative forms of dairy farming. While many are implementing rotational grazing to their regimen, others have begun sending their cows to the fields, hoping they can lower costs associated with maintaining them inside buildings. Others have championed organic milk production, an eco-friendly, small-farm alternative to mass dairy production. However, even organic farms have been hit by the decrease in milk prices, making it more difficult to finance their farms. There are over 2 million farms across the United States, and many of those raise animals. Dairy farmers have also begun including other animals in an attempt to diversify their profit; the number of farms herding goats and sheep have practically doubled since 2015. Other dairy-supporting groups have tried to get Congress involved. For dairy-producing states like Wisconsin, the dairy industry promotes nearly $43 billion per year. The Dairy Business Association has tried to petition the government to revamp permit programs for larger farms in order to lessen the strain on local farmers. However, change may be coming. A new study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has proven that there is no significant causation between the consumption of dairy fat and disease, including stroke. That may encourage more liquid milk consumption. Nearly 3,000 adults over 65 were studied over the course of 22 years. Researchers measured the different plasma levels pertaining to three types of fatty acids. Those with higher levels of these fatty acids were reportedly less likely to die from stroke. This new study means we can help reduce the risk of stroke in our elderly family members with a healthy diet that includes dairy. An estimated 70% of all American citizens aged 65 years or older will likely need long-term care during their life. News like this...

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Vertical Gardens Climb Ladder Of Success

Crop One, a farming business based out of Boston, has revolutionized the way we understand agriculture. Through their vertical gardens, which involve the hyper-efficient indoor growing of lettuce and herbs, they are taking the agricultural industry by storm, and it seems they have no plans of stopping anytime soon. The company recently signed a deal with Emirates Flight Catering to create a massive vertical farm — the biggest of its kind — in Dubai. The Sky’s the Limit The $40 million agreement involves the construction of a 130,000 sq. foot environmentally controlled building, and aims to produce around 6,000 pounds of greens daily. The nature of indoor facilities protects the crops from all the harm and risk Mother Nature can bring. As a result, their products are herbicide-free, pesticide-free, and use 99% less water than it takes to water a field. The joint venture agreement between the agricultural tycoons and United Arab Emirates on-flight catering service (also one of the world’s largest) seems to bring a wealth of benefits. Saeed Mohammed, CEO of Emirates Flight Catering, stated: “By investing to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility, we secure our own supply chain of high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint.” A Big Leap Forwards (Or Upwards) Although Crop One is making headlines with their vertical farming success, they are not the only company offering such services. On a much smaller scale, Farmery is providing vertical farming equipment to grocery stores, allowing them to make extremely fresh and chemical-free greens available to local communities. Plants need three things to grow: water, nutrients, and light. Vertical gardens provide access to these vital components with almost no waste. Crop One explains their process without revealing any details, so it is unknown what their specific blend of nutrients is, or whether they use fluorescent, HID, or LED lights. All we know is that they seem to be getting it right! It’s refreshing to see technology having an impact on one of the most important parts of living: the food that we put into our bodies. The possibilities of vertical farming extend beyond healthy, inexpensive veggies — they offer a potential solution to world...

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Personalization Matters: The New Age Of Direct Mail

Think about the last email advertisement you got. Can you even remember what it was? Probably not, because email marketing campaigns are overwhelming, impersonal, and nonstop; at a certain point, you just start to tune them out. On the other hand, try to recall the last piece of physical mail advertisement you received — it was most likely personalized to you, using your name and focusing on your specific interests. That little advertisement, whether it was for a pet store or a shiny new credit card, is called direct mail, and its popularity is taking off. Bye-Bye Email, Hello Direct Mail People are 37 times more likely to respond to a direct mail ad campaign than email marketing, and certain marketing moguls are taking notice. Dave Fink and Jonathan Neddenriep, the marketing brains behind Dollar Shave Club, Wishbone, Hello Society and a number of other incredibly successful businesses, have just established a new start-up company based out of L.A. called Postie. The company’s clients can use the service to access demographic, interest, and behavioral data of over 320 million people — that’s the entire population of the United States. This information is how online advertising functions, but by combining it with direct mail, Fink and Neddenriep are hoping to boost their clients’ reach and ROI. “A highly targeted physical piece of mail, especially in today’s ephemeral world, elicits an emotional response that goes above and beyond what is possible online. It’s now possible to open up a whole new scalable media channel by leveraging the same data driven insights and quantitative approach as digital.” Statistics reveal that around 40% of consumers made a purchase within the last three months that was motivated by direct mail marketing, so it seems Postie is sure to be a hit among producers. The Potential is Limitless With so many businesses vying for consumers’ attention, Postie has the potential to bring highly competitive markets and industries to a head. The catering and hospitality industry is one such example. In the age of Airbnb, direct mail marketing can target and encourage specific consumers in the hopes of maintaining a profit. Caterers can send out targeted messages, rather than waiting for someone to Google “caterers near me” and hoping that consumers choose their business. The possibilities of upsetting the current consumer market are truly...

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History Shines Its Light On You: Communities Give New Life To Local Signs

In a delightful display of community care and engagement, an iconic sign in Kansas City has been relit for the first time in years. The Western Auto sign was installed in 1952 by the Western Auto Supply Co., a car parts start-up that saw its birth in the very same city almost 110 years ago. Hometown History The Western Auto Supply Co. was a beacon in the Kansas City community. With the invention of Ford’s Model-T car came the need for reliable car parts, and business boomed for the start-up. They expanded across the country, opening more than 1,000 stores but never forgetting their origins; their headquarters laid in the very same building that displayed the 73×70 foot neon sign. In 1988, Sears purchased the company. They maintained their grip on the Kansas City jewel for 10 years, when they sold it to Advanced Auto Parts. By the end of 2003, the once-dominant business had been shut down, and the local community lost a significant piece of their history. Statistics show that people who live within five miles of a business will see a sign 50 to 60 times a month — with the help of the Western Auto Lofts Homeowners’ Association (who now live in the building), the people of Kansas City will be constantly reminded of their city’s past and its vital role in the nation’s automotive industry. “Anybody with a history in Kansas City feels a connection to that sign. A lot of people gravitate to it. It is something to behold.” Museum Ignites a Passion For Historical Signs Moving just a few states down and over, the southwestern city of Tuscon, Arizona, is experiencing a similar resurgence in local history connected to signage: the Ignite Sign Art Museum is set to open its doors this coming fall. Owned and operated by Jude Cook and his wife, Monica, the museum will be one-of-a-kind. Displaying over 300 signs from Cook’s personal collection, he cited the subtle importance of signs as the driving force behind his passion. “If there’s stuff out there that’s worth trying to preserve, I’m trying to get ahold of it so it doesn’t get thrown away. You don’t even appreciate [signs] until they’re gone. And then you forget about...

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Hope For Sex Workers In Limpopo

Prostitution is a global epidemic, permeating all societies. Women in particular seem to get the brunt of the punishment surrounding sex work, despite the fact that many are simply trying to survive in a world that wants to blame them for their situation. Luckily, many countries around the world are trying to remove the stigma surrounding prostitution by legalizing it. Although many are not quite there yet, Limpopo, a province in southern Africa, is trying to do its part by offering a safe place for sex workers. Sex Workshop for Sex Workers Hlokomela, an HIV and AIDS treatment an education center in Limpopo, worked with the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) to hold a sex workshop for stakeholders who interact with sex workers (such as social workers from local community, health workers, etc.) in an effort to enlighten them on the truth of the situation and ultimately change their understanding of sex work. The hope was that the workshop would curb discrimination and negative behavior towards sex workers. Hlokomela itself is an organization that educates sex workers on condom usage, HIV and AIDS information (as well as providing testing), and explains the health risks of the profession. They are truly serving an important role, from counseling those who are AIDS or HIV positive, to working with stakeholders to decriminalize sex work. Knowledge is power, and understanding is everything: if Hlokomela can make a breakthrough using these tools, they could be pioneers in the sex worker community and set an example for the rest of the world. The Brutal Truth Unfortunately, they have their work cut out for them. Sex workers are frequently discriminated against when they need help, from the denial of healthcare to failure of the justice system against abuse from a client, exclusively based on judgment of their profession. The irony of this judgment lies in the numbers: in the U.S., around 80,000 people are arrested annually for soliciting sex. Prostitution wouldn’t exist if there weren’t people willing to support it, effectively making its criminalization unduly harsh on the people working within it. However, it seems that Washington D.C. may soon turn the tide for our country: the bill was drafted in 2017 (called Reducing Criminalization to Promote Public Safety and Health Act) and is currently still being...

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