Tag Archives: Farmers

excessive heat warnings

Driving while single can cost more in Phoenix, study shows

Single, widowed and divorced drivers in Phoenix are likely to pay higher insurance rates than married drivers with identical driving records, according to a recent report from the Consumer Federation of America.

Phoenix was one of 10 large cities across the U.S. where the federation sought quotes for a 30-year-old woman with a perfect driving record – but different family particulars. In all 10 cities, most rates were higher for that hypothetical customer if she was single, divorced, widowed or single with a child, the study showed.

Critics say that’s the wrong thing for insurers to focus on.

Buying auto insurance “shouldn’t remind people to go get married,” said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. “Insurance pricing should remind people to be safe.”

But where consumer groups see rating criteria that have little to do with risk, others see a “sign of a healthy marketplace,” where different insurers are offering a range of pricing options.

Andrew Carlson, the legislative liaison for the Arizona Department of Insurance, said “there is nothing preventing” consumers from choosing a different insurance company.

“Consumers are free if they can find a better rate or premium,” Carlson added.

The report found differences between customers based on their marital status could be large: In Phoenix, for example, rates were sometimes as much as $400 a year higher for a widow than a married woman.

Four of the five insurance companies cited in Phoenix – GEICO, Farmers, Progressive and Liberty – had lower rates for the hypothetical married customer. Rates at State Farm did not vary with marital status, the report said.

Calls to the individual companies were referred to the Insurance Information Institute, where Michael Barry said it is not surprising to see different rates for different people.

“The auto insurance industry has generally found that married drivers pose less of a risk to insurers than single ones,” said Barry, adding that it is a “consensus opinion that has emerged over a period of decades.”

Not all risk factors are based on driving records, Barry said, noting that insurers in some states look to credit scores because they “have found that people who handle their finances correctly are less likely to file claims.”

Hunter disagreed with the notion that rates should be influenced by anything besides your behavior behind the wheel, but he said “credit score has more impact than anything else” on rates, even more so than drunken driving incidents most times.

Other advocates agree with Hunter, arguing there should be no correlation between auto insurance risk and socioeconomic factors.

“What does paying your credit card on time have to do with your driving?” asked Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the Arizona Public Interest Research Group.

“As far as I know, insurance companies are using a variety of unfair rating tools,” Mierzwinski said.

“Instead of using legitimate factors, based on causation,” Mierzwinski said the federation’s study points out “insurance companies trying to maximize their profits.”

Basing rates, at any level, on socioeconomic factors “undermines the safety” that auto insurance rates were once founded on, Hunter said. He said there is “more and more use of factors that have nothing to do with driving.”

But Carlson said that when underwriters determine premiums, “It all comes down to risk assessment.”

Companies compile all kinds of information, from marital status to driving records, he said, that helps them “determine what sort of risk they want to take with a particular customer.”

“They may target you, they may target me,” Carlson said. But ultimately they will “come up with a rate they think we will accept, so they can try to secure business.”

“They might think single people have an increased risk for that company,” he said of the federation report findings.

Hunter said the report also clearly shows “a widow penalty,” as insurance rates increase for a woman whose husband just died. The practice “just about takes the cake,” he said.

CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said raising rates in instances like that “seems inhumane.”

“It’s not at all clear” why companies use such factors, he said.

foodbank

Buck Truck Adds Substance to Food Drives

Tempe, nonprofit, crowd-funding, grocery stores, farmers, donate perishable food items, Buck Truck, Tempe Leadership, United Food Bank, Mesa, Ed Baker, Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Lisa Pino, Arizona

A Tempe-based nonprofit is utilizing the power of crowd-funding to enable grocery stores and farmers to donate perishable food items.

Buck Truck, a project of this year’s Tempe Leadership team, is accepting donations for refrigerated delivery trucks to the United Food Bank in Mesa.

The United Food Bank currently relies on donations from canned-food drives and retailers.  The donations from retailers are limited, however, as the United Food Bank lacks the ability to transport food that requires refrigeration for freshness.

“You want to provide the best food to those you’re trying to help,” said Ed Baker, a member of this year’s Tempe Leadership team. “The best foods for people to live a healthy life are fresh, perishable foods.”

The Tempe Leadership Program, a product of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, has been around since 1985 and each year puts together a team of community-centric individuals for nine months to engage in a project that can cover a range of community services.

“When we sat down to decide what our project would be, it was brought up that United Food Bank has a difficult time accepting fresh food,” Baker said. “We thought, ‘If only we could get 10 or 15 people to donate for a refrigerated truck.’”

The final decision was the concept of Buck Truck, to which contributors are encouraged to donate $1, $10 or $15.

The goal is to raise $41,000 for trucks that can “deliver fresh vegetables and meats from local farmers, ranchers, suppliers and grocery stores” as opposed to non-perishable items typically collected by charities in canned-food drives.

The Buck Truck website states that the refrigerated food truck will allow 24,000 pounds of what previously would have been wasted food to be distributed monthly, which it notes equates to 20,000 fresh meals.

“Buck Truck is very important because it will allow us to provide fresh produce and lean protein to our 200 partners,” said Lisa Pino, president and CEO of United Food Bank. “It’s the food you need for a healthy, adequate diet.”

The importance of Buck Truck is not only to increase the quality of food being served to those in need, but also the quantity, as Arizona is currently scarce in resources to serve what she explained is one of the hungriest states in the country, said Pino.

“The Buck Truck is nimble and responsive to Arizona’s hunger needs,” she said.

Arizona is tied as the worst state for childhood hunger, and is fifth worst in food insecurity (limited access to adequate food sources), according to statistics cited on the United Food Bank website.

As well as helping absolve statewide hunger, Pino noted a collateral benefit of Buck Truck is also contributing to helping reduce food waste.

“A theme of sustainability is key for us,” Pino said. “We want to eliminate food waste and engage more young people on the issue.”

guayule

Guayule could drive Arizona’s economy

It’s common knowledge that America’s largest import is oil, but do you know what’s second? Hint: it’s a commodity used for tires, hoses and thousands of household products.

The United States imports 100% of it’s natural rubber from the Hevea tree grown in nations like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once upon a time, there was enough rubber to supply all of our needs, thanks to imported natural rubber and synthetics made from petroleum, but like with everything else in the global economy, the need for rubber is being stretched beyond it’s supply.

Enter Arizona, the home of a native Sonoran Desert plant called guayule (why-you-ly). A hundred years ago, it was touted by names like Edison, Firestone, Ford and Rockefeller as the panacea for our nation’s rubber shortage. Ironically, it even appeared on the front page of the New York Times on December 7th 1941, touted as a backstop supply of rubber in case of Japanese aggression. Shortly thereafter, over 25,000 acres was put into production as part of the war effort.

Unfortunately, like every other time guayule has cropped up, worldwide prices or geopolitics have conspired to cut it down before long-term research could be done–until now.

In 2009, a Casa Grande company, PanAridus, started acquiring the largest privately owned germ plasm bank of guayule on the planet, marrying the sciences of genetics and bio-agriculture to making guayule profitable for farmers to grow and for tire companies to use in the manufacturing process.

Guayule and Arizona are a match made for a planet with finite resources. Not only does the plant use about half the water as conventional crops like cotton or alfalfa, but it’s grown on unproductive and arid land. One hundred percent of the plant is used, either for rubber, resins or as cellulosic biomass.

With consistent testing in hand, PanAridus is now growing more guayule per acre than can be grown by tapping the Hevea tree, and this past autumn for the first time in history, guayule samples were publicly offered to be tested against ‘traditional’ rubber sources that have been used to make tires, tubing and medical supplies.

Will 100 years be worth the wait? With an exploding Asian market, the possibilities for a center for the $300 billion tire industry being sited in Arizona look positive. PanAridus is currently looking at sites for a test facility in rural Arizona that will allow it to grow its patented strains in large enough quantities for tire companies not just to test its purity, but to actually blend it into the tires they sell all around the world.

Blending rural agronomy with genetics to grow crops like guayule will give us key strategic advantages we need not only to create jobs at home and increase profits at the farm gate, but also to create a ‘best practices’ sustainable industry that can be exported around the world.

 

Michael Fraley is CEO of PanAridus. Learn more at www.PanAridus.com.

guayule

Guayule could drive Arizona's economy

It’s common knowledge that America’s largest import is oil, but do you know what’s second? Hint: it’s a commodity used for tires, hoses and thousands of household products.

The United States imports 100% of it’s natural rubber from the Hevea tree grown in nations like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once upon a time, there was enough rubber to supply all of our needs, thanks to imported natural rubber and synthetics made from petroleum, but like with everything else in the global economy, the need for rubber is being stretched beyond it’s supply.

Enter Arizona, the home of a native Sonoran Desert plant called guayule (why-you-ly). A hundred years ago, it was touted by names like Edison, Firestone, Ford and Rockefeller as the panacea for our nation’s rubber shortage. Ironically, it even appeared on the front page of the New York Times on December 7th 1941, touted as a backstop supply of rubber in case of Japanese aggression. Shortly thereafter, over 25,000 acres was put into production as part of the war effort.

Unfortunately, like every other time guayule has cropped up, worldwide prices or geopolitics have conspired to cut it down before long-term research could be done–until now.

In 2009, a Casa Grande company, PanAridus, started acquiring the largest privately owned germ plasm bank of guayule on the planet, marrying the sciences of genetics and bio-agriculture to making guayule profitable for farmers to grow and for tire companies to use in the manufacturing process.

Guayule and Arizona are a match made for a planet with finite resources. Not only does the plant use about half the water as conventional crops like cotton or alfalfa, but it’s grown on unproductive and arid land. One hundred percent of the plant is used, either for rubber, resins or as cellulosic biomass.

With consistent testing in hand, PanAridus is now growing more guayule per acre than can be grown by tapping the Hevea tree, and this past autumn for the first time in history, guayule samples were publicly offered to be tested against ‘traditional’ rubber sources that have been used to make tires, tubing and medical supplies.

Will 100 years be worth the wait? With an exploding Asian market, the possibilities for a center for the $300 billion tire industry being sited in Arizona look positive. PanAridus is currently looking at sites for a test facility in rural Arizona that will allow it to grow its patented strains in large enough quantities for tire companies not just to test its purity, but to actually blend it into the tires they sell all around the world.

Blending rural agronomy with genetics to grow crops like guayule will give us key strategic advantages we need not only to create jobs at home and increase profits at the farm gate, but also to create a ‘best practices’ sustainable industry that can be exported around the world.

 

Michael Fraley is CEO of PanAridus. Learn more at www.PanAridus.com.

fresh produce

New Arizona Law Makes It Easier For Farmers To Donate Fresh Produce

A new Arizona law aims to increase fresh produce donations directly from farmers to food banks and other charities. The Western Growers-sponsored bill signed last night by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer allows farmers to receive tax deductions if they donate some of the crops they produce—literally giving away the fruits of their labor to the hungry. Building on the spirit of giving, the law revises previously complicated rules for the donations in hopes of boosting charitable contributions.

Sponsored by Arizona Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler), the new law will apply to all 2012 tax year Arizona grown fresh produce donations.

“I am very pleased and appreciate the action whereby Gov. Brewer signed my Senate Bill 1121. This bill will make farm fresh produce donated to food banks easier to accomplish and will greatly benefit some of the most needy in our society,” said Yarbrough. “I applaud Western Growers for urging this legislation.”

Arizona food banks are also excited about the new law.

“We’re looking for good, solid nutritious food. And fresh produce, you can’t hardly get any better than that,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president & CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “We’re really excited about the potential of this law. What we know is that these growers and owners of fresh produce products in Arizona have one purpose in mind—that is to feed hungry people. They don’t grow product to see it wasted.”

Analysis from the food bank shows that less than 1 percent of fresh produce grown in Arizona was donated to food banks in past years. Hildebrand hopes the new law will change that. The law makes these fresh produce donations common sense by allowing farmers and others to deduct the wholesale market price of the fresh produce for tax purposes. The law also gets rid of complicated restrictions that entire crops be harvested on behalf of a charity. That means farmers can immediately donate food when they choose.

That’s important for Arizona farmers like Western Growers board member Gary Pasquinelli of Pasquinelli Produce Company, who heard about a similar law developed with help from Western Growers in California. Pasquinelli asked the right question: Why not a similar law in Arizona? Paul Muthart, also of Pasquinelli Produce Company, then provided critical input to make sure the tax deduction would work with businesses tax structures.

Established in 1984, the Association of Arizona Food Banks is a private, non-profit organization serving five-member regional food banks (Community Food Bank, Desert Mission Food Bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, United Food Bank, Yuma Community Food Bank) and a network of nearly 1,600 food pantries and agencies. As one of the first state associations in the nation and an inaugural partner state association of Feeding America, AAFB was instrumental in the development of a statewide gleaning project, and our advocacy efforts have brought about beneficial state and federal legislation for our member food banks and the people they serve. For more information, to find a food bank or pantry in your area, or to learn more about donation and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.azfoodbanks.org.