Groups file complaints against hebgen dam malfunction

January 9, 2022

Montana Economy

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BOZEMAN – A citizen complaint was filed against NorthWestern Energy for a malfunction of the Hebgen lake dam in December 2021.

The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) said dam owner Northwestern Energy in Butte should be held responsible for the incident. The environmental group is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to demand that Northwestern pay for an independent investigation into the dam’s malfunction. The incident reduced the flow of water to the Madison River by 57% in fifteen minutes.

MEIC says the federal agency should consider creating a fund to support ecological restoration projects on the river and a long-term watershed impact study.

The MEIC was joined in the complaint by Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and the Madison River Foundation.

Northwestern Energy told MTN that it completed a $ 40 million modernization of the dam in 2018 and has already submitted a report to FERC.

From MEIC:

BOZEMAN, MT – Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Montana Environmental Information Center, and Madison River Foundation have filed a citizen complaint [uppermissouriwaterkeeper.org] Jan. 5, 2022, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding NorthWestern Energy’s failure to meet the Hebgen Dam license conditions that resulted in the Nov. 30 dewatering on the Upper Madison River.

“This formal complaint is the way to hold NorthWestern Energy accountable for its dam failure, a thorough third party investigation of the impacts, and targeted action to restore the integrity of the river and downstream communities,” Guy said. Alsentzer, executive director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. . “Two significant flow cuts in fifteen years at the northwestern Hebgen Dam are sounding the alarm for additional monitoring and redundancy needed to protect the river’s ecology and downstream economies that directly depend on stable outflows. “

NorthWestern Energy, owner and operator of the dam under Federal Permit No. P-2188, issued by FERC, violated two permit conditions when the valve well ruptured and significantly reduced outflows from the Hebgen Reservoir . The provisions violated were (1) to maintain a continuous minimum flow of 600 cubic feet per second (cfs) at USGS No. 6-388 near the Kirby Ranch, and (2) to limit flow changes from the Hebgen Dam to no more than 10% per day throughout the year. The USGS gauge located at the Hebgen Dam measured the outflow from 648 cfs to 278 cfs in 15 minutes (a 57% reduction) and a maximum reduction to 216 cfs (a 67% reduction) in a period of 24 time . Likewise, Madison River flows fell below the item 403 low of 600 cfs at Kirby Ranch, eventually falling to 395 cfs.

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and the Madison River Foundation are calling on FERC to require Northwestern Energy to fund a full third-party investigation into the malfunction and hold the licensee accountable for taking action to ensure that this tragedy is an isolated event. .

“As a utility, NorthWestern Energy must be held accountable for the mismanagement of Montana’s natural resources, especially our water,” said Derf Johnson, lawyer and director of clean water at MEIC. “NorthWestern must cooperate fully with a full and transparent investigation, mitigate the impacts on the environment, the community and the economy, take action to ensure this does not happen again and pay to resolve the issue out of the pockets of its shareholders.” . “

If the FERC determines that there are good reasons to investigate, the complaint will trigger a formal process, overseen by the FERC, investigating the failure of the dam and the adequacy of Northwestern’s oversight and failures of the dam. equipment that led to one of Montana’s most famous blue ribbon trout streams drying up during critical spawning season. Another outcome could be the creation of targeted funding to support ecological restoration projects and help affected stakeholders downstream.

“We are committed to our members, the Montanans and the Madison River, to protect its vital flows and to be responsible stewards of maintaining a healthy watershed,” said Jonathan Malovich, Executive Director of the Madison River Foundation. “This is just a step in the right direction for many more to come to change the way we can all protect and manage the water that flows along the Madison River.”

Because the long-term ecological and economic impacts of the draining of the Hebgen Dam on the Upper Madison River may remain unknown for years to come, it is essential that a formal, non-partisan process asks these questions and seeks lasting solutions. right now. The filing of the complaint is separate from the ongoing public correspondence in late December 2021 between Northwestern Energy and FERC regarding the Upper Madison Dam failure and is specifically focused on addressing ecological degradation.

From ENO:

An investigation is underway into the failure of the Hebgen dam valve on November 30.

Since taking possession of 11 dams in Montana in 2014, NorthWestern Energy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the system. These investments increased production capacity, improved fish passage through the dam system, modernized infrastructure and provided more recreational opportunities. This investment includes a $ 40 million upgrade to the Hebgen Dam completed in 2018.

On November 30, a component of a gate of the Hebgen dam – installed in 2015 during the upgrade project – failed.

NorthWestern Energy has submitted reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the failure and, in conjunction with our Federal Regulatory Agency and others, is taking deliberate steps to ensure a thorough analysis of the gate component. The analysis, based on sound engineering principles, will be used to understand why this relatively new part failed and to establish corrective actions.

NorthWestern Energy will also work with resource agency biologists and others to develop scientific studies to assess its effects on fishing.

RELATED:

The malfunction of the Hebgen dam causes a drop in the water level; brings the community together to save the trout


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Stop NM’s debt cycle, cap high interest loans at 36%

January 9, 2022

Montana Loans

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Every day in New Mexico, people find themselves trapped in the cycle of high interest consumer loans – in New Mexico, that means an annual interest rate of up to 175% – unable to escape it. These installment loans and auto title loans are sometimes referred to as “payday loans” because the payments are tied to when the borrower is paid. In New Mexico, there have been numerous attempts over the years to reduce the exorbitant interest charged, but these lenders have been allowed to continue operating at rates prohibited in many other states. It is high time to put an end to these predatory lending practices. We encourage Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico legislature to stop these high interest loans.

Here’s the scenario: A family’s income is less than what it needs for basic necessities or the family faces an unexpected expense, such as a car repair, and borrows a few hundred dollars from a lender. expensive, at an annual interest rate of 175%. It’s an option they’ve seen heavily advertised, touting no credit checks and quick cash. When the time comes to repay the loan, the family does not have the extra money to pay or is forced to transfer the money needed to pay for other expenses in order to make a payment on the loan. Over time, the family may be encouraged to refinance the loan to ease the difficulty of repaying, which leads to increased debt and ultimately a debt trap when they cannot repay the loan. .

In New Mexico, we’re letting that cycle go on and on, with an interest rate cap of 175%. There are options to this predation. Credit unions across the state offer small loans at a reasonable interest rate – well below 36% – to borrowers, often without a credit check. Almost a million New Mexicans are already members of a credit union, which makes this option easy and accessible. City and county governments, schools, colleges, and businesses across the state adhere to an alternative program, TrueConnect, which allows employees to take out small loans that are repaid over time in the form of payroll deductions. pays, with an interest rate between 20% and 25%. . Falling interest rates don’t mean people will run out of options, but the options available will allow borrowers to repay the loans they take out.

Make no mistake: High-interest lenders, 89% of which are out-of-state companies, are taking money out of the pockets of hard-working New Mexicans who are just trying to make ends meet. No one wants to be in need of a short term loan, and those who do should not be fresh meat for loan sharks, eager to kill someone else’s misfortune.

Capping interest rates at unacceptable levels has enjoyed broad bipartisan support for decades. President George W. Bush enacted the Military Loans Act in 2006, which capped rates at 36% for active duty military personnel and their spouses. States across the country, from New York to Nebraska, from Maryland to Montana, cap their loan rates at 36% or less. Over 80% of New Mexicans surveyed support a capitalization rate of 36% or less. This is the rate that we have proposed again, and it should be adopted.

We urge the Governor and the Legislative Assembly to pass legislation without excuse or delay to protect low-income New Mexicans.


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Want to refinance your mortgage? Do These 7 Things Now Smart change: personal finance

January 7, 2022

Montana Lending

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Leslie Cook

For many homeowners, the low mortgage rates that have prevailed in recent years have presented an opportunity to refinance their home loans. To be able to refinance can be a great tool to reset your finances. This means you can lower your interest rate and monthly mortgage payments, allowing you to take the money you save and apply it to other goals.

Rates tend to rise so far this new year, but millions of people could still save enough that a refinance is worth it. If you haven’t refinanced in a few years, chances are you are one of them.

According to mortgage data firm Black Knight, more than 9 million homeowners could cut their interest rates by at least 0.75 percentage point by refinancing at current mortgage rates. These same owners could save an average of $ 276 per month. About 1 million homeowners could save up to $ 500 per month. Many experts claim that a reduction in interest rates of between 0.50 and 1% makes mortgage refinancing profitable.

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Keep in mind that a refi takes time. Average closing time in September, the latest available data was 43 days, according to ICE Mortgage Technology. If you are considering mortgage refinancing, the following steps can help you prepare for the process and get started.

Save money on your mortgage by setting yourself a lower interest rate.

You may be able to reduce your payments by using lower interest rates. Click on your state to find out how.

1. Set a refinancing goal

Most homeowners refinance in order to get a lower interest rate and therefore lower their monthly payments. However, this is not the only reason to refinance.

Different types of loans offer different benefits.

You may want to switch from a variable rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage to secure a permanently lower rate. You may want to switch from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan to pay off your mortgage faster. If you have enough equity, you could also save on mortgage loan insurance by going from a mortgage loan FHA loan to a conventional mortgage.

Perhaps you’ve recently been faced with large medical bills, unscheduled home repairs, or other expenses that are weighing you down financially. If you have built up enough equity in your home, a withdrawal refi will not only allow you to refinance your loan, but also withdraw additional cash.

Knowing what you want to accomplish with a refi will help you determine the type of mortgage product you need. Consider all of the options to see which one works best for you.

2. Check the equity in your home

You could qualify for a conventional refi loan with as little as 5% of your home equity, depending on Find out about mortgage loans. However, most lenders prefer that you have at least 20% equity.

If you have more equity in your home, you may be eligible for a lower interest rate and fees, as lenders will view borrowers with higher equity as a lower risk. More equity also means that you are less likely to owe more than the home’s value if home prices go down.

To get an estimate of your home’s equity, subtract your current mortgage balance from your home’s current market value. The result will be the equity in your home. Contact a knowledgeable local real estate agent to get an idea of ​​your home’s value. Zillow’s home price estimate can also be a rough starting point.

You should also prepare your home for a formal appraisal, which will be part of the refinancing application process. Have documentation on hand about the improvements you have made to the home. (For example, did you add a bathroom or replace an old roof?) It won’t hurt to clean and organize your home for refurbishment.

If your income has taken a hit, a home equity loan can offer less expensive help.

Using a home equity line of credit can help you if you need it. Click below to find out more.

3. Check your credit score and credit report

Before making any loan decision, it is important to check your credit rating as well as your credit report.

Your credit score will largely determine the interest rate a lender will offer. The higher your score, the lower the rate you qualify for and the lower your monthly payments will be. If you have a low score, look for ways to improve your credit score well before you apply for a loan.

Your credit report shows the information on which your score is based. This is where you can check for any errors that can negatively affect your credit score. If you find any errors in your report, you can contact the credit bureaus to have these items removed. Be prepared to provide documents proving the error.

As part of the consumer protections put in place by the CARES Act, you can get a free weekly credit report from one of the major reporting bureaus until April 2022. (As a rule, you are entitled to a free report from each credit reporting company per year.)

You should also be aware of the factors that could temporarily adversely affect your credit score. Applying for a credit card, personal loan, or car loan right before, at the same time, or right after the refi application will lower your score, even temporarily.

Your credit reports and your credit scores play an important role in your future financial opportunities.

Identifying and responding to any potentially fraudulent activity can mitigate the damage to your credit. Click Below To Get A Copy Of Your Credit Today!

Get a copy of your credit report today

4. Do the math to see if refinancing will pay off

Before asking for a refi, make sure you understand the costs associated with a new loan. The closing costs for refinancing are usually between 2% and 5% of the total loan amount. For a refi to make sense, you need to be able to recoup those closing costs, as well as save money in the long run.

To determine if it’s worth it, you’ll need to calculate your breakeven point. This is the time it will take for the savings on the new loan to exceed its cost. You can calculate the breakeven point by dividing the loan closing costs by the amount you save each month.

For example, if your closing costs are $ 5,000 and your monthly savings are $ 100, your breakeven point would be 50 months or about four years. In this case, refinancing probably makes sense if you plan to live in your home for more than four years.

An easy way to determine if a refi is right for you is to use a mortgage refinance calculator.

5. Put your mortgage papers in order

You need a lot of documents proving that you are ready to refinance.

The documents you should have on hand include your last pay stubs, the last two years of W-2, information on your current home loan, as well as information on property taxes and home insurance.

If you are self-employed or have a non-traditional job, have two years of bank statements. You may also need an income statement from your bank, past two years 1099 forms, and customer invoices as proof of income.

A lender may have additional documentation requirements depending on their initial assessment of your finances. Once you’ve chosen a lender, find out about all the other requirements so that you can get them together in advance. This will make the application process much smoother.

6. Find a mortgage lender

Don’t settle for the first interest rate offered to you. You need to compare the rates and terms of at least three refinance lenders to see which one offers the best plan for your needs.

You should also consider different types of lenders. Compare rates from major banks as well as online lenders and local credit unions. If you have a long-standing relationship with a financial institution that also offers home refinancing, check with them as well. You may be able to negotiate a better rate if you already have other financial transactions with the lender, but not always. Do not assume your current lender offers you the best deal.

Lock in a lower interest rate by refinancing your mortgage

For borrowers with a solid credit history, refinancing can be a good way to get a lower interest rate. Click below for a free quote.

7. Block your rate

Once you’ve found a lender who offers the best terms and rate for you, set your interest rate. A rate lock-in will ideally ensure that your interest rate does not rise until the close.

However, rate freezes are usually done for periods of 15 to 60 days. With lenders taking a while to close these days, you may want to go for a longer foreclosure. While some lenders may not charge a rate freeze, others will. The rate blocking fee can vary between 0.25% and 0.50% of the total loan amount. If your loan does not end on time, extending the lock-up period may result in additional charges.

The key with a rate foreclosure is timing. Check with your lender to find out how long it typically takes them to close, then lock in the rate for that length of time.

More money :

7 best mortgage refinancing companies

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?

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Pandemic Adds Time, Cost Of Reconstruction After Colorado Wildfire | national news

January 7, 2022

Montana Economy

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LOUISVILLE, Colo. (AP) – The 23-year-old home of Rex and Barba Hickman near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains has been reduced to a blackened heap by the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.

Before the December 30 fire, which ravaged nearly 1,100 homes, the Hickmans often hung out with neighbors on their patio, sharing funny stories over a glass of wine. But that probably won’t happen again for years – an even longer delay by the pandemic.

“That’s part of the reason it hurts,” Barba Hickman, 65, said earlier this week as he sifted through the rubble and wondered how long it might take for the neighbors to benefit again spontaneous meetings.

Reconstruction is never easy or quick. Homeowners must deal with insurers, land surveyors, architects and more. But in Colorado and other states hit by natural disasters this year, the pandemic has added additional uncertainty and created more hurdles. Shortages of labor and raw materials will make reconstruction slower and more expensive.

“It’s going to take forever,” said Kelly Moye, spokesperson for the Colorado Association of Realtors.

Even without a pandemic, it took almost seven years to completely rebuild after a fire in 2012 that destroyed hundreds of homes in Colorado Springs, and home builders are still finishing work after a 2017 fire in Santa Rosa, Calif. .

The stress of recent Colorado wildfire victims is compounded by an extremely tight housing market. With few homes for sale or rent, families are struggling to find temporary shelter.

“It’s a big part of the population who all need the same thing. And they all need it right now, ”Moye said. “They can’t get away for half an hour because the kids have to stay in their school district.”

Thousands of American families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by extreme weather conditions last year, from tornadoes in the Midwest and Kentucky to the impact of Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast and New Jersey, also face the intimidating road that awaits the Coloradans affected by the forest fires.

Builders everywhere are waiting longer than usual to line up carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and these specialists themselves are being supported while they wait for parts.

From start to finish, building a 2,500 square foot home in Denver would normally take four to five months. Now that same project typically takes eight to 10 months, said John Covert, director of Zonda Advisory, a Denver-based residential construction market research firm. The local increase in demand after a disaster only exacerbates the problem.

President Biden and his wife, Jill, on Friday visited the area outside of Denver where more than $ 500 million in damage has been caused. They walked along a street where houses burned down to their concrete foundations and met locals and local officials.

In addition to delaying reconstruction, the pandemic is also driving up costs. Contractors are hard to find amid an increase in renovations, and lumber and steel supplies are stranded by problems in the supply chain, said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Lumber prices have fallen from around $ 350 per 1,000 board feet before the pandemic to nearly $ 1,500 last year, Dietz said. This can mean additional costs of $ 30,000 to $ 40,000 for a typical home, he said.

Colorado cities hardest hit by last week’s wildfires, Louisville and Superior, lie in a predominantly wealthy area between Denver and the college town of Boulder. Median home prices there are more than double the national average, which stood at $ 416,900 in November, down from $ 321,500 a year earlier.

Rising house prices can add an additional burden to families who have lost their homes to a forest fire.

“The costs are likely to exceed the insured value of many destroyed structures,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.

The Hickmans’ adjuster said their policy would not cover rebuilding their home exactly as they did. With a gas fireplace and wood stove inside and a front patio that had become a gathering place for neighbors, the house was valued at over a million dollars.

“The pandemic and the supply chains have increased costs, and the insurance company doesn’t seem to care,” Barba Hickman said.

The people of Colorado are not alone in facing the challenges of the pandemic era that have exacerbated the already stressful process of recovering from a natural disaster.

In December, a 200 mile line of tornadoes struck Kentucky, decimating some small rural towns, displacing hundreds and killing dozens.

Cole Claybourn of Bowling Green has found a contractor to fix the torn off corner of his house and damaged roof, and is hoping work will begin next week, a month after the disaster. “If it had only happened in one part of the county, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it took out quite a large part of the city,” he said.

It’s too early for Claybourn, 32, to have supply chain headaches, but he won’t be surprised if that’s a problem. “I’m a high school teacher and we haven’t been able to get toner in our building for months,” he said.

Before Hurricane Ida destroyed the Gulf Coast – then destroyed New Jersey – in late summer, construction contractors were already grappling with severe labor shortages and depleted supply chains. The damage inflicted by Ida amplified these constraints.

Jeff Okrepkie, whose home burned down in the Santa Rosa fire in 2017, said families who begin to rebuild will benefit by working together, sharing information and being extremely patient. “There is so much to building a house from scratch and most of us have no experience in this area,” said Okrepkie, who moved into his new home in early 2020.

The challenge for builders comes at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty. The US economy has rebounded at an unexpected speed after a brief but painful recession in the spring of 2020, catching many companies by surprise and forcing them to scramble to find supplies and recall workers they had put on leave for the year. last.

But it is not known how long the reduction in supply and labor will last. Omicron and other COVID-19 variants could cause more Americans to stay at home as a health precaution. This could slow economic growth, but also slow inflation and alleviate labor and material shortages.

Dietz, the economist, believes building material shortages will ease before the labor shortage, especially in fast-growing regions like the mountain states and the southern United States.

For now, the Hickmans find some solace in being retired and having more time than many others to devote to rebuilding. They’ve spent the last week focusing on finding accommodation to rent and are even considering relocating to Denver, nearly 20 miles to the southeast.

With everything she’s learned over the past week, Barba Hickman urges her adult children to review their own insurance policies because “the time to discuss this is before your house burns down.”

———

Associated Press editors Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco, and Alex Veiga in Los Angeles, contributed to this report. Nieberg is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.


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Agriculture Secretary Ready for Second Round of Meat Packaging Reforms | 406 Politics

January 7, 2022

Montana Loans

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You could say Monday was not Tom Vilsack’s first rodeo.

President Joe Biden was figuratively on the saddle to rescue both cash-strapped ranchers and consumers alike by a meat-packing industry in which four big players control over 85% of the market.

Vilsack, who was also Agriculture Secretary under Barack Obama, had done it before, when the effort was wiped out faster than can be said to be re-election.

But this time, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is optimistic the outcome will be different, if only for another reason as Biden having $ 1 billion to increase the number of independent meat packers competing with the Big Four. industry: Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS and National Beef packaging.

The theory goes like this: if there is another buyer in the auction barn, there will be competition which will naturally increase the price paid to ranchers for the cattle. The plan, announced this week, drew comments from Republican and Democratic politicians in Montana, signaling that they also wanted market reform. Livestock sales were about $ 1.5 billion to the state’s economy in 2020, but that number was $ 100 million lower than sales the year before, as supply issues hit farmers. breeders and consumers directly into their wallets.

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“With the US bailout, we have the resources to actually do something on the funding side, and we are putting the finishing touches on some rules and regulations that will be coming in 2022 to strengthen enforcement,” Vilsack told the Lee Montana Newspapers Wednesday.

“Our belief is that by increasing capacity, we increase competition. When you do this, you will help farmers take better advantage of the market. And you’re going to give consumers choice in the marketplace, which we think will moderate the price increases as well. And secondly, you want to make sure that there are two sides to it, you want to make sure that you have enough information so that farmers can determine whether or not they are getting fair treatment.

“And it touches on the transparency of market reporting that is necessary. I need Congress to continue to expand the mandatory reporting efforts that will allow us to get information. And you need, I think, Congress do what Sen. (Jon) Tester and Senator (Chuck) Grassley are interested in doing, which is to create more market transparency, to have the right level of cash transactions that gives you an idea of ​​what really is the market.

The US Department of Agriculture will invest $ 375 million in gap funding grants for independent processors to meet a need for more processing capacity. One of the lessons of recent years is that a single disruption between the four major meat processors can derail the beef market for ranchers and consumers.

In August 2019, a fire at a Tyson Foods packaging plant in Kansas created a bottleneck at both ends of the United States’ meat supply chain. Pastoralists with livestock to sell have been supported by lower production, resulting in oversupply and lower livestock prices as a result. On the consumer side, less beef was arriving in supermarkets, leading to higher prices as supply failed to meet demand.

A few months later, a ransomware attack on JBS reduced the number of slaughtered cattle by 40,000 carcasses in just a day and a half.

The USDA will invest an additional $ 150 million in the 15 independent processor projects that are nearing completion. An additional $ 225 million will be invested in projects that can be put online by the summer. Federally backed loans totaling $ 275 million will be made available for independent meat processing in underserved communities.

In addition, $ 100 million will be spent to create a skilled workforce, which Montana meat processors said earlier this week is necessary for any independent processing expansion to be successful. There aren’t enough qualified meat cutters currently to staff Montana’s meat packaging industry, said Lyle Happel, of the Montana Meat Processors Association.

Demand for independent meat processing increased in the pandemic’s first year, as disease and death from COVID-19 hit packing plants at the four major slaughterhouses. At least 59,000 meat packaging workers have been sickened by COVID-19 in the first 12 months of the pandemic in the United States. At least 269 workers have died from COVID-19. These numbers were reported to the U.S. Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee on October 27, 2021.

In Montana, where 31 meat processors are state inspected and 28 federally inspected, there is growth in the industry, although this can be difficult to measure as some activities are disguised as existing processors passing from a state inspection designation to a federal inspection designation. Federal meat inspection is what is required to sell meat across state borders, which attracts processors who are expanding into multi-state markets.

The USDA has $ 32 million available for 167 existing processors to go for federal inspection so they can reach more customers.

The new rules, to which Vilsack refers, to control anti-competitive practices, include ensuring that independent processors gain a foothold in retail markets.

Accessing space in grocery store refrigerators is no easy task, said Walter Schweitzer, president of the Montana Farmer’s Union. Just as big brands buy from shelves in the grain aisle, refrigerated spaces are real property that big meat suppliers can secure and crowd out from their competition.

“A big part of the piece of this puzzle is that if we’re going to have a more competitive market, we’re not only going to have to force these packaging companies to play fairly, but we’re going to have to force retailers to play fairly, too,” said Schweitzer.

The MFU rushed to reform country-of-origin labeling for meat. Currently, “Product of USA” labels on meat packaging in the store are not limited to beef raised in the United States. The largest meat processors process beef from Canada and Mexico at their 50 packing plants in the United States. When meat is mixed during processing, this country of origin label ends up being applied to the meat of all three countries.

The United States, under a law championed by Democratic Senator from Montana Tester, attempted to require a US-only COOL label, but Mexico and Canada opposed, arguing the label violated the label. ‘North American Free Trade Agreement. The World Trade Organization then concluded that Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs on other U.S. exports in retaliation, after which the federal government killed COOL without challenging the WTO.

How the labeling ended is a sore point at Schweitzer.

“You know, this Product of USA label as it is now is fraudulent,” said Schweitzer. “The United States being one of the largest beef importers in the world, and you have processing capacity owned by the Brazilian cartel (JBS). They mix it up. You know they are and they proudly do it. And then they put the label on it.

The MFU wants country of origin labeling to be mandatory and applied only to American beef. They support a tester bill to do it.

Vilsack said the labeling being rolled out under the Biden administration is voluntary, although the U.S.-only labeling requirements are there. The Agriculture Secretary expects that once independent processors become more involved and the US label is affixed to their product, the biggest packers of meat will feel market pressure to do the same.

Could they skip the labeling? “Well, sure, in which case when you go to the grocery store you can know that the product you are buying at one point had no connection with the United States, compared to this local producer who received a grant. or a loan from the USDA to produce its own processing facility that puts a label on it and says “not only is it a product of the United States, but it’s a product of Joe Smith’s farm on the road” , said Vilsack. “I guarantee you. I believe people will buy a package for Joe with the Joe Smith label on it. And that will increase the market share, if you will, to labeled products, as opposed to unlabelled products.”

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Lender was scammed for charging 700% interest rate

January 6, 2022

Montana Lending

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By Katryna Perera (Jan. 6, 2022, 3:25 p.m. EST) – A Native American tribal-owned loan company was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit in a New Jersey federal court on Wednesday for claiming the company was charging interest rates. exorbitant interest of up to 699.99% on loans as low as $ 500.

Two New Jersey residents, Mary Haremza and Jacob Murray, sued Aaniiih Nakoda Finance LLC, which operates as Bright Lending and is owned by the Fort Belknap Indian community of Montana’s Fort Belknap reservation, according to the complaint. .

The plaintiffs allege that the online lender is engaged in usury – the practice of loaning money at an unreasonable amount …

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North Korea claims second successful hypersonic missile test

January 6, 2022

Montana Economy

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea said on Thursday it had successfully completed the second test flight of a hypersonic missile, days after Chief Kim Jong Un pledged to bolster its military forces despite difficulties related to the pandemic.

Wednesday’s launch, the North’s first known weapons test in about two months, indicates the country will continue with plans to modernize its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than resuming disarmament talks anytime soon.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party had expressed “great satisfaction” at the results of the missile test, which was observed by key weapons officials.

Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds above Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose critical challenges to missile defense systems due to their speed and maneuverability. It’s unclear if and how soon North Korea could make such a high-tech missile, but it was part of a wishlist of sophisticated military assets that Kim leaked early last year, as well as a multi-warhead missile, spy satellites, solid fuel long-range missiles and nuclear submarine launch missiles.

Wednesday’s test was the second of its kind since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile last September.

“The successive successes of test launches in the hypersonic missile sector are of strategic importance as they accelerate a task of modernizing the state’s strategic armed forces,” a KCNA report said.

The word “strategic” implies that the missile is developed to launch nuclear weapons.

KCNA said the missile made a 120-kilometer (75-mile) lateral movement before hitting a target 700 kilometers (435 miles) away. He said the test reconfirmed the missile’s flight control and stability and checked its fuel capsule in winter weather conditions.

While North Korea appears to have made progress in developing a hypersonic missile, it still needs more test flights to determine if it is meeting its tactical goals or how well it could develop a hypersonic weapon, a declared Lee Choon Geun, expert and honorary researcher. member of the Science and Technology Policy Institute of South Korea.

A photo from the launch shows that the tops of missiles launched in September and this week have different shapes. Lee said this suggests that North Korea is testing two versions of warheads for a missile still in development or that it is actually developing two different types of hypersonic missiles.

He said the missile’s reported lateral movement would provide the weapon with greater maneuverability to evade enemy missile defense systems.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Seoul University of North Korean Studies, said North Korea is likely to move forward with its plans to strengthen weapons without being affected by external factors like the Olympic Games in Seoul. Beijing in February, the South Korean presidential election in March and a possible change in North Korean policy by the Biden administration.

“Since the United States has decided on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, North Korea need not worry about what China would think when it performs” weapons tests, Kim said.

China is North Korea’s last great ally and aid benefactor. Some experts had predicted earlier that North Korea would not launch any provocations until the end of the Beijing Olympics.

Tae Yongho, a former North Korean diplomat who is now an MP in South Korea, wrote on Facebook that Pyongyang is keeping its borders closed due to fears over the pandemic. But he said Pyongyang was still working to perfect its missile technology to strengthen its position in future negotiations.

The latest North launch was first detected by its neighbors.

The US military called it a ballistic missile launch that “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illicit weapons program,” while South Korea and Japan have expressed concerns. or their regrets about the launch. China, for its part, called for dialogue and said “all parties concerned should keep the big picture in mind (and) be careful in their words and actions.”

U.S.-led diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program has stalled since 2019 due to disputes over international sanctions against the North. The Biden administration has repeatedly called for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy “anywhere, anytime” without preconditions, but North Korea argued that the United States must first withdraw its hostility against him before talks can resume.

At last week’s plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, Kim Jong Un reiterated his pledge to expand his country’s military capabilities without publicly presenting new positions on Washington and Seoul.

The North’s expanding nuclear arsenal is at the heart of Kim’s reign, and he called it a “mighty precious sword” that thwarts potential assaults from the United States. During his 10-year reign, he performed an unusually high number of weapons tests to acquire the ability to launch nuclear strikes on the Americas. But his country’s economy has fallen sharply over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions and his government’s mismanagement.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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Expectation that the Fed will hike rates pushes stocks lower | national news

January 5, 2022

Montana Mortgages

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Stocks slumped and bond yields rose on Wednesday as Wall Street interpreted the minutes of the recent Federal Reserve policymakers meeting as a sign that the central bank is ready to accelerate interest rate hikes this year as it fights inflation.

The S&P 500 fell 1.9%, its biggest drop since September, as tech companies pushed the market down sharply. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 3.3%, its worst decline since February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1%, retreating from the record it set a day earlier.

Bond yields rose after the release of the Fed meeting minutes. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill, a benchmark for setting rates on mortgages and many other types of loans, rose to 1.70% shortly after the minutes were released, from 1.68 % just before. It has not been at 1.70% since April.

The Fed minutes showed that policymakers at their meeting last month expressed concerns that inflation, which has peaked in four decades, is spreading to more areas of the world. economy and would last longer than expected. Fed officials also concluded that the US labor market is nearing sufficiently healthy levels that the Fed’s low interest rate policies are no longer necessary.

For both of these reasons, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said after the December 14-15 meeting that the central bank was accelerating the reduction of its ultra-low interest rate policies.

Even so, Wall Street appeared to read the minutes as a sign that the central bank may be more aggressive in reversing the economic stimulus policies it put in place after the pandemic, which could mean a longer path. fast towards higher interest rates.

“We believe the Fed is likely to raise interest rates faster and potentially reduce its balance sheet sooner than expected, as it signals that it is more important to fight inflation than to hedge against a decline in economic activity, ”said Chris Zaccarelli, Investment Director of Independent Advisor. Alliance.

The S&P 500 lost 92.96 points to 4,700.58. The Dow Jones lost 392.54 points to 36,407.11. The Nasdaq lost 522.54 points to 15,100.17.

Small business stocks also posted significant losses. The Russell 2000 lost 74.87 points, or 3.3%, to 2,194.

Fed minutes show policymakers discussed how they may need to raise short-term interest rates at a faster rate and allow their bond purchases to proceed sooner than they do. have done so in previous attempts to bring interest rates back to normal.

“They noted that current conditions included a stronger economic outlook, higher inflation and a larger balance sheet and could therefore justify a potentially faster pace of policy rate normalization,” the minutes said.

The message seemed to catch bond investors, in particular, off guard.

“The Fed has spoken, but the bond market has not listened,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts. “That started to change this week, and today’s minutes echo what the bond market is starting to reflect this week, and (stocks) are taking note.”

About 80% of the stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 fell. The main drag on the index was tech companies, which led gains on Monday and then pulled the broad market on Tuesday. Microsoft fell 3.8% and software maker Adobe lost 7.1%.

A mix of retailers and other businesses that rely on consumer spending has also lost ground. Tesla slipped 5.4% and Amazon fell 1.9%.

AT&T rose 2.2% after giving investors an encouraging update on growth in subscriber numbers.

European markets closed largely higher and Asian markets largely lower overnight.

Investors face a busy first week of the New Year with a wide array of economic data. The latest most recent reports on different sectors of the economy and the labor market come as Wall Street continues to assess the potential economic impact of rising inflation and the latest wave of COVID cases. 19.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for December on Thursday, giving Wall Street a better idea of ​​how the larger sector of the economy is handling the latest wave of variant COVID-19 cases. highly contagious from omicron.

The Ministry of Labor will publish its monthly employment report for December on Friday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Expectation that the Fed will raise rates drives stocks down | national news

January 5, 2022

Montana Mortgages

Comments Off on Expectation that the Fed will raise rates drives stocks down | national news


Stocks slumped and bond yields rose on Wednesday as Wall Street interpreted the minutes of the recent Federal Reserve policymakers meeting as a sign that the central bank is ready to accelerate interest rate hikes this year as it fights inflation.

The S&P 500 fell 1.9%, its biggest drop since September, as tech companies pushed the market down sharply. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 3.3%, its worst drop since February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1%, retreating from the record it set a day earlier.

Bond yields rose after the release of the Fed meeting minutes. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill, a benchmark for pricing mortgages and many other types of loans, rose to 1.70% soon after the minutes were released, from 1.68% just before. . It has not been at 1.70% since April.

The Fed minutes showed that policymakers at their meeting last month expressed concerns that inflation, which has peaked in four decades, is spreading to more areas of the world. economy and lasts longer than expected. Fed officials also concluded that the US labor market was nearing sufficiently healthy levels that the Fed’s low interest rate policies were no longer necessary.

For both of these reasons, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said after the December 14-15 meeting that the central bank was accelerating the reduction of its ultra-low interest rate policies.

Even so, Wall Street appeared to read the minutes as a sign that the central bank may be more aggressive in reversing the economic stimulus policies it put in place after the pandemic, which could mean a longer path. fast towards higher interest rates.

“We believe the Fed is likely to raise interest rates faster and potentially reduce its balance sheet sooner than expected, as it signals that it is more important to fight inflation than to hedge against a decline in economic activity, ”said Chris Zaccarelli, Investment Director of Independent Advisor. Alliance.

The S&P 500 lost 92.96 points to 4,700.58. The Dow Jones lost 392.54 points to 36,407.11. The Nasdaq lost 522.54 points to 15,100.17.

Small business stocks also posted significant losses. The Russell 2000 lost 74.87 points, or 3.3%, to 2,194.

Fed minutes show policymakers discussed how they may need to raise short-term interest rates at a faster rate and allow their bond purchases to proceed sooner than they do. have done so in previous attempts to bring interest rates back to normal.

“They noted that current conditions included a stronger economic outlook, higher inflation and a larger balance sheet and could therefore justify a potentially faster pace of policy rate normalization,” the minutes said.

The message seemed to catch bond investors, in particular, off guard.

“The Fed has spoken, but the bond market has not listened,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts. “That started to change this week, and today’s minutes echo what the bond market is starting to reflect this week, and (stocks) are taking note.”

About 80% of the stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 fell. The main drag on the index was tech companies, which led gains on Monday and then pulled the broader market lower on Tuesday. Microsoft fell 3.8% and software maker Adobe lost 7.1%.

A mix of retailers and other businesses that rely on consumer spending has also lost ground. Tesla slipped 5.4% and Amazon fell 1.9%.

AT&T rose 2.2% after giving investors an encouraging update on growth in subscriber numbers.

European markets closed largely higher and Asian markets largely lower overnight.

Investors face a busy first week of the New Year with a wide array of economic data. The latest reports on different sectors of the economy and the labor market come out as Wall Street continues to assess the potential economic impact of rising inflation and the latest wave of COVID-19 cases.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for December on Thursday, giving Wall Street a better idea of ​​how the larger sector of the economy is handling the latest wave of variant COVID-19 cases. highly contagious from omicron.

The Ministry of Labor will publish its monthly employment report for December on Friday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Asylum? Canadian mask critic detained by border patrol in Montana

January 5, 2022

Montana Loans

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Latest news from the get-go: According to CTV, a Canadian, who has criticized mask warrants and other lockdown measures, has been arrested by the US Border Patrol after crossing the border near Plentywood, MT.

It makes you wonder how many times we have seen this happen in record numbers here in America. Illegal aliens are flocking across our southern border, no COVID test or vaccine passport is required. Then they’re shipped on the taxpayer’s penny across the country and allowed to stay here in the United States. But if you * legally * want to cross the border and come here from Canada to visit family in Montana … no you can’t have it without jumping through a bunch of hoops.

That’s what makes this news from Plentywood, MT even more interesting. Apparently, a Canadian who criticized mask warrants and other lockdown measures, and risked jail time for his protests, has now been arrested by a US border patrol after crossing the border from Montana.

CTV News had the storyy from Calgary, Alberta:

After failing to show up on the last weekend of an intermittent jail sentence, former Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston was arrested Tuesday morning by US Border Patrol agents while ‘he was trying to cross on foot from Saskatchewan to Montana.

Johnston is being held in the town of Plentywood on Monday. as officials work to get him back to Canada.

The Calgary Herald has more information on his charges:

Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Adam Germain sentenced Johnston in September to 40 days in jail to serve the weekend for contempt, for violating three court orders directing him to comply with public health measures such as masking during the third wave of COVID-19.

Sounds like he might be a controversial figure in Canadian politics, but does that sound like a real case of political asylum to you? Could Montana officials do something to prevent him from being returned to Canada?

* The history of the note has been updated. The initial report described him as a pastor.

LOOK: What important laws were passed in the year you were born?

The data in this list was acquired from reliable online sources and media. Read on to find out which major law was passed in the year you were born, and learn its name, vote count (if any), impact, and meaning.


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