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Family Farm Relief Bill Proposed by Jones, Grassley Signed into Law

Mark Lucey | Dreamstime.com

Bipartisan legislation to help family farmers avoid bankruptcy, sponsored by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The bill aims to allow farmers to reorganize their debts. Chapter 12 of the U.S. bankruptcy code removes certain costly reorganization requirements intended for large corporations, and the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 raises the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million, allowing more farmers to seek relief under the program.

“Farming is a tough way to make a living even when everything goes right,” Jones says. “This new law will help family farms and fisheries across the country stay afloat and weather the toughest times.”

Repeated years of low commodity prices, stringent farm lending regulations and recent retaliatory tariffs have taken a toll on the agricultural sector. Farm bankruptcy rates in many farming regions across the country are at their highest point in a decade. In some places in 2018, farm bankruptcies doubled from previous years.

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 was supported by the National Farm Bureau. It was also co-sponsored by Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.)

Sen. Doug Jones to Keynote Israeli Tech Partnership Event

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, will give keynote remarks next week at a conference on creating technology partnerships between Alabama and Israeli businesses.

“Opportunities for Technology Partnerships Between Alabama and Israeli Businesses” is set for Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Alabama Power Co. Auditorium, 600 18th Street North.

The event is being put on by the Birmingham Business Alliance, Conexx: America Israel Business Connector, the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation and Alabama Power Co. It will include an overview of Israel’s technology ecosystem and a panel of business leaders on doing business in Israel.

According to Conexx’s Barry Swartz, Israel is home to more start-ups than the entire European Union and is second only to Silicon Valley in terms of the volume of start-ups it produces. Technology like Waze, a GPS navigation software app now owned by Google, and Mobileye, which was purchased by Intel for $15.3 billion in 2017, were created in Israel. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others all have a major presence in the country.

Swartz says there will be individuals on hand to facilitate a relationship between Israel and Alabama companies looking to explore Israel’s innovation and technology, as well as possible mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances.

The event is free but does require registration.

What’s Your Credit Score? FICO Helps With Answers

Workshop participants in Birmingham gain skills to better their credit scores.

For the average consumer, there are many mysteries surrounding credit scores. What is a FICO score? Is it really necessary to monitor this metric on a daily basis, as some personal finance counselors suggest? Will a better FICO score make me a better person?

Good questions all. A FICO score is a type of credit score created by the Fair Isaac Corp. Lenders use it, and other scores like it, to assess whether it’s a good idea to lend you money. A good credit score entitles you to better interest rates, since you’re a lower risk, thus potentially saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars when buying a house or car.

A decade or so back your credit score was something you sometimes had to pay to access, usually from one of the three big companies that generated credit scores. The information is now much more available, and it pays to know your score, particularly if you’re in the market for a big purchase. They should also be checked periodically to make sure of their accuracy.

About 100 attendees picked up these tips and others in May when FICO brought its Score a Better Future event to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business. The credit education event featured a 45-minute interactive FICO Score education program followed by individual credit counseling sessions for any attendee who registered. More than 40 individuals opted for individual counseling.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, delivered opening remarks at the event. Jones is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over credit score/credit reporting issues.

For the traveling show, FICO uses participants in the FICO Score Open Access Credit and Financial Counseling program, such as Operation Hope, National Urban League and Gateway Family Solutions, as part of this financial inclusion initiative. Future events are being scheduled in Washington, DC, and Charleston, SC, along with several other cities.

While good credit doesn’t necessarily equate to a good soul, it does offer food for thought. As one attendee says, “It made me realize the factors that are contributing to my debt and my personal decisions that impact my credit score.”

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