American Soil’ Is Increasingly Foreign Owned

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May 27, 20194:17 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered
RENEE WILDE

FROM
WYSO

A loaded combine harvester during a late corn harvest in Hamilton, Ohio.
John Minchillo/AP
American soil.

Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can’t be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.

When the stock market tanked during the past recession, foreign investors began buying up big swaths of U.S. farmland. And because there are no federal restrictions on the amount of land that can be foreign owned, it’s been left up to individual states to decide on any limitations.

It’s likely that even more American land will end up in foreign hands, especially in states with no restrictions on ownership. With the median age of U.S. farmers at 55, many face retirement with no prospect of family members willing to take over. The National Young Farmers Coalition anticipates that two-thirds of the nation’s farmland will change hands in the next few decades.

“Texas is kind of a free-for-all, so they don’t have a limit on how much land can be owned,” say’s Ohio Farm Bureau’s Ty Higgins. “You look at Iowa and they restrict it — no land in Iowa is owned by a foreign entity.”

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Ohio, like Texas, also has no restrictions, and nearly half a million acres of prime farmland are held by foreign-owned entities. In the northwestern corner of the state, below Toledo, companies from the Netherlands alone have purchased 64,000 acres for wind farms.

There are two counties in this region with the highest concentration of foreign-owned farmland — more than 41,000 acres each. One of those is Paulding County, where three wind farms straddle the Ohio-Indiana line.

Once a foreign entity buys up however many acres they want, Americans might never be able to secure that land again. So, once we lose it, we may lose it for good.

Ty Higgins

Higgins says that this kind of consumption of farmland by foreign entities is starting to cause concern. “One of the main reasons that we’re watching this … is because once a foreign entity buys up however many acres they want, Americans might never be able to secure that land again. So, once we lose it, we may lose it for good.”

His other concern is that every acre of productive farmland that is converted over to something other than agriculture is an acre of land that no longer produces food. That loss is felt from the state level all the way down to rural communities, where one in six Ohioans has ties to agriculture.

Angela Huffman is a sixth-generation farmer in Wyandot County, which, along with Paulding County, has more than 41,000 acres of foreign-owned farmland. Her modest, two-story white farmhouse has been in her family for almost 200 years. Her grandfather was the last person to actively farm the land here. When he got out of farming due to declining markets, none of his five children wanted to take over, and the cropland is now leased.

But Huffman, a young millennial who lives here with her mother, wants to try to keep the farm going and revive her family heritage.

Walking out to the barn, a huge white Great Pyrenees dog watches over a small flock of sheep. Huffman says she’s worried about the effects of foreign land ownership on her rural community — which she describes as similar to Walmart pushing local businesses out of the market.

“Right out my back door here, Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world, has recently bought out a couple grain elevators,” Huffman says, pointing across the field behind her house, “basically extracting the wealth out of the community.”

To be fair, U.S. farmers and corporations also invest in overseas agriculture, owning billions of dollars of farmland from Australia to Brazil, but the Smithfield Food buyout has really raised concerns with American farmers. As part of that 2013 sale, a Chinese company now owns 146,000 acres of prime U.S. farmland.

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Back in the Huffman farmhouse, Joe Maxwell is typing on a laptop at the kitchen table. Maxwell is a fourth-generation farmer from Missouri. He and Huffman are part of the Organization for Competitive Markets, an advocacy group of farmers and ranchers across the nation.

Maxwell points to the Smithfield Foods elevators across the field: “The money that those elevators used to make stayed within the community. Today the money those elevators make will go into the pocket of someone thousands of thousands of miles away. This is going on across America.”

Maxwell is concerned that, as other states put restrictions on foreign purchases in place, Ohio in particular is being targeted. “So when they’re looking for investments in the U.S. and agriculture,” he says, “Ohio’s a great ag state, and you don’t have any restrictions like other states.”

Nationwide, Canadian investors own the most farmland. In Ohio, it’s Germany, with 71,000 acres.

On the southern central part of the state, John Trimmer manages 30,000 acres of corn and soybeans for German investors. He’s been working with German families that have wanted to get into U.S. agriculture since the 1980s. “They started to buy land in Iowa and Minnesota,” Trimmer explains, “but right when they started, [Iowa and Minnesota] passed state laws which restricted foreign ownership.”

“None of them have an interest in the farm.”

Instead, the Germans turned to Ohio.

But, Trimmer says, there is a misconception about foreign owners — that they aren’t good neighbors or good stewards of the land. What he sees is a growing divide between older family members who still live on the farm, and their children who have no interest in the family business and want to cash out the land.

“The last two farms we bought here, through an owner, her and her brothers and sisters inherited it from their mother, and none of them wanted to farm. None of them have an interest in the farm.” Trimmer explains that his German clients have established a reputation in the community for letting the tenants — often aging parents or grown children — continue to live in the houses on the farms they buy.

Sellers work directly with his German clients — instead of putting the property up on the market, the sale ensures that family members can live out their lives in the family homestead, while still getting cash value for the farmland.


After long wind-up, Bush set to finally make 2016 White House pitch

After months raising money and lining up support on the sidelines, Jeb Bush is preparing Monday to enter the Republican presidential race — aiming to regain the momentum after watching several other GOP luminaries seize the spotlight.

No longer the unquestioned front-runner, the former Florida governor has to contend with 10 other candidates who already have declared and several more expected to enter in the coming weeks. Lately, he’s been bunched at the top of national Republican polls with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has not yet declared, and home-state rival Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has.

Bush reportedly is planning to get more aggressive against his closest competitors, including Walker and Rubio.

On Monday morning, he released a web video touting his record as Florida governor and pitching himself as a problem-solver.

“We led, we reformed, we got results. That’s what’s missing in Washington,” he says. “I’m ready to lead.”

The video cuts to his logo, unveiled Sunday on Twitter:  “Jeb! 2016.” The logo notably does not use his last name — a factor that has been both an asset and a liability in a race where “establishment” candidates are easy targets.

Bush will formally enter the race Monday afternoon with a speech and rally near his south Florida home at Miami Dade University, an institution selected because it serves a large and diverse student body that’s symbolic of the nation he seeks to lead.

“My core beliefs start with the premise that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line and not the back,” Bush says in a video featuring women, minorities and a disabled child to be aired at the event before his announcement speech. “What we need is new leadership that takes conservative principles and applies them so that people can rise up.”

Bush joins the crowded Republican campaign in some ways in a commanding position. The brother of one president and son of another, Bush has likely raised a record-breaking amount of money to support his candidacy and conceived of a new approach on how to structure his campaign, both aimed at allowing him to make a deep run into the GOP primaries.

But on other measures, early public opinion polls among them, he has yet to break out. While unquestionably one of the top-tier candidates in the GOP race, he is also only one of several in a capable Republican field that does not have a true front-runner.

In the past six months, Bush has made clear he will remain committed to his core beliefs in the campaign to come — even if his positions on immigration and education standards are deeply unpopular among the conservative base of the party that plays an outsized role in the GOP primaries.

“I’m not going to change who I am,” Bush said as he wrapped up a week-long European trip this weekend. “I respect people who may not agree with me, but I’m not going to change my views because today someone has a view that’s different.”

Bush is one of 11 major Republicans in the hunt for the nomination. But few among them entered the race with such a high expectations of success as did Bush. Those expectations have seemed a burden at times.

Take, for example, the question of whether Bush will report raising $100 million for his campaign in the first six months of the year. Lost amid the “will he or won’t he” is that Bush probably will have raised more in six months than former presidential nominee Mitt Romney raised in the first year before the 2012 election.

After touring four early-voting states, Bush quickly launches a private fundraising tour with stops in at least 11 cities before the end of the month. Two events alone — a reception at Union Station in Washington on Friday and a breakfast the following week on Seventh Avenue in New York — will account for almost $2 million in new campaign cash, according to invitations that list more than 75 donors committed to raising big money.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Paul Sullivan’s Ideation to Creation Shows the Art Behind Popular Entertainment

You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we’ll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.–Paul Sullivan

“Entertainment art is kind of foreign to a lot of people,” says Paul Sullivan, a Colorado born-and-bred illustrator and one of the creative and conceptual forces behind 20th Century Fox’s 2014 animated film The Book of Life. Sullivan also worked on Megamind (released by Paramount Pictures in 2010), and he’s been big into the gaming scene, involved with popular titles like Tomb Raider, Iron Man and X-Men.
Still, some people don’t consider digitally animated films and video games an art form, he says, and that’s a misconception Sullivan plans to deal with at Ideation to Creation: The Art of Paul Sullivan, which opens at ArtGym Denver with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 18.

Often the real creative work behind cinematic entertainment is hidden because viewers only see the final result of an artistic process that can take years to complete. “Everything starts with a pencil on paper,” say Sullivan. “You create this stuff in 2D, and a lot of times it just gets translated into 3D and you don’t see the original artwork that was behind it.”

To complicate things further, Sullivan adds, “There are a lot of extremely talented people in the entertainment industry, but because of ownership rights studios own everything you are working on until you’re finished, and sometimes the products are never released.”

This show will give viewers “an inside look at the pencil-and-paper creation stage,” says Sullivan. From the initial drawing to storyboards and final shots in films, the exhibit will showcase art from the various stages of development, and viewers will also have access to a sketch wall of looseleaf paper sketches and time-lapse videos revealing his digital painting process.

The exhibition coincides with the launch of ArtGym’s digital programming. Says curator Elke McGuire, “We wanted a local artist who could show the process of how digital art is made, and we couldn’t think of anyone better than Paul.”

This is the artist’s inaugural showing in the American art scene, though in 2008 Sullivan was asked to participate an international video-game art show in Northern Italy with twelve other entertainment artists. The exhibit at ArtGym is a really great opportunity to bring awareness about entertainment art to the Denver community, and to show the value of it in a gallery setting,” says Sullivan. “I love design, I love playing with shapes, and I love color,” he continues. “I think about things in a very general way before going into detail.”

No matter what he’s working on, Sullivan always researches his subjects thoroughly (that’s the nature of entertainment art). After that, he notes, “it is about applying design knowledge and color theory to that.”

Local fiber artist Karen Sullivan nurtured her son’s passion for drawing, encouraging him to pursue art from a very early age. After graduating high school in Arvada, Sullivan went to the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, where he studied illustration under Larry Kresek and minored in animation. From there, Sullivan began exploring entertainment art while working with area filmmaker Alexandre Philippe, perhaps best known for his 2010 documentary The People vs. George Lucas.

“I really launched into my career when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2003,” recalls Sullivan. That’s when he started doing concept art for a video-game company — a gig that “spring-boarded me into working on animated films.”

Sullivan went to DreamWorks Animation to help produce Megamind and then he bounced between games and films, squeezing young adult book-cover illustration for HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House into his nights and weekends. In 2009, Sullivan had the opportunity to work with director Jorge Gutierrez, and he was intimately involved with The Book of Life from the early developmental process on, eventually coming into the roles of art director and co-production designer.

After a few exhilarating (and exhausting!) years of splitting time between Dallas and Los Angeles, Sullivan and his family moved back to Colorado, where the entertainment artist is currently conspiring with Gutierrez on his next project, an untitled kung fu space western.

Sullivan’s show will run until August, and he’ll give an informal talk at ArtGym at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 27. “This is for people who want a more in-depth look at the process,” he says. For more information on Sullivan and his work, visit his website.

Follow Jamie Siebrase on Twitter.


CVS buys Target pharm biz for $1.9B

By: Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY

Drugstore chain CVS Health (CVS) will acquire big-box retailer Target’s (TGT) pharmacy and clinic business for $1.9 billion, the companies said Monday.

More than 1,660 Target pharmacies in 47 states will be rebranded as CVS/pharmacy. Target’s clinics, nearly 80 in total, will be renamed MinuteClinic.

The retailers are getting cozier on another front, too. Target will seek five to 10 locations for new small-format Target Express stores that would also have a CVS/pharmacy inside.

“This long-term strategic relationship will certainly benefit the patients, the employees and the shareholders of both companies,” CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said in a conference call.

CVS will offer comparable positions to all of Target’s 14,000 pharmacy and clinic workers. Target appeared to leave the door open for cuts at the corporate level, however, saying it will “further evaluate the business impact and related support needs at its headquarters locations.”

The deal comes as Target is reassessing its business priorities in a bid to sharpen its strategy in a dynamic competition with online retailers such as Amazon.com and big-box rivals such as Walmart.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said the exceedingly complex health care business is not a good fit for Target, which lacks the scale and expertise to thrive in the pharmacy world.

“Everything we do and how we do it has been on the table and up for review,” he said on a conference call, adding that it’s critical Target becomes a “faster-moving, more agile organization.”

Cornell clarified, however, that Target is not currently seeking to sell any of its other core businesses. He also said he expects Target’s foot traffic to increase following the deal.

CVS also said it would open 20 new clinics in Target stores within three years of the deal’s closing.

The deal is worth $1.2 billion to Target after taxes. The company said it would use the cash to boost its “long-standing capital priorities,” including share buybacks.

Target’s pharmacy business has about $4 billion annual sales. Target said its profit margins would rise following the deal.

CVS said it would increase its debt load to do the deal and pledged to start chopping its debt over time. But the company said it would reduce its share buyback plan for 2015 by $1 billion to help fuel the transaction.

To finalize the deal, the retailers will have to secure regulatory approval from the U.S. government. Officials suggested the deal could be finished by about the end of 2015, though they said the timing is uncertain.

Spokespeople for both companies declined to say whether CVS would accept all insurance plans that Target accepts. Nothing changes for now.

“Target guests will receive communication prior to any changes taking effect,” CVS spokeswoman Carlyn Castel said in an email.

Merlo said his personal relationship with Target’s Cornell helped make the deal possible.

“I have always been a fan of his,” Merlo said. “That relationship helped to create a level of trust and confidence.”

Merlo downplayed the suggestion that the relationship could spawn brand confusion. CVS customers purchase an average of three items per trip, he noted.

“The customer is using Target and CVS/pharmacy very differently,” Merlo said.

By positioning CVS in Target stores, he believes the chain can reach more consumers. The deal puts CVS in several new markets, including Seattle, Denver and Portland, Ore.

CVS will pay $20 million to $25 million in annual rent to Target for the pharmacy and clinic space, CVS Chief Financial Officer Dave Denton said.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.


Fusion Cells Leading to Cancer?

Written by

Copyright: Medical News Today

As the number two leading cause of death in the US, cancer touches just about everyone in some way. There are many factors involved in the formation of cancer, and genetic changes are a key culprit. Now, a new study sheds light on how the fusion of one normal cell with another can trigger genomic events that turn normal cells cancerous, allowing tumors to form.

According to the American Cancer Society, in the US in 2015, around 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed, and over 589,000 individuals will die from the disease.

To further investigate causes for this ubiquitous condition, researchers from the University of Michigan and the Mayo Clinic undertook a study that is published in The American Journal of Pathology.

They note that exposure to carcinogens and infectious agents can trigger spontaneous genetic mutations that arise when cells divide. Some researchers, however, believe that the link between carcinogens and genetic changes are too uncertain to account fully for the development of common cancers.

However, researchers have suspected that cell fusion – the process whereby one or more cells combine to form a new cell with multiple nuclei – is a potential cause for some cancers, providing a reason why multiple genetic changes appear to underpin cancer development.

But there has been a lack of clear evidence that normal cell fusion alone could trigger cancer – until now, that is. In their latest study, the researchers show the missing link between cell fusion and the multiple genetic changes that transform normal cells into cancerous cells.

Additionally, the team has been able to show how, when injected into live animals, these fused cells form tumors.

‘Cell fusion generates chromosomal instability’

To conduct their study, the researchers used rat IEC-6 intestinal epithelial cells. They explain that these cells maintain a “stable diploid genomic structure” (one with two sets of chromosomes), replicate normally and lack the cellular features of cancer cells. These cells also do not form tumors when observed over several generations.

The team labeled the IEC-6 cells with either red or green dyes and then exposed them to 50% polyethylene glycol to facilitate cell fusion. The researchers could then determine if the cells had fused by noting the presence of both the red and green dyes within one cell.

While non-fused cells only contained one color, the researchers also noted that fused cells were larger than their non-fused counterparts.

Results reveal that fused cells can replicate – 19% of fused IEC-6 cells generated clones – and with replication, the chromosomes from the two separate cells fused together.

Additionally, the researchers found that 41% of the clones had abnormal numbers of chromosomes, 56% were near-diploid and 4% were tetraploid. In contrast, 86% of the non-fused cells were diploid.

Dr. Jeffrey L. Platt, from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, says their results “indicate that cell fusion generates chromosomal instability,” which refers to changes in the appearance and number of chromosomes. Because such abnormalities are typically observed in cancer, the team looked for DNA damage in the fused clones and found such damage in significantly more fused clones than non-fused clones.

They say their findings suggest that after cells fuse, a chromosomal instability might result in DNA damage and, therefore, genetic changes that underpin cancer.

Commenting on their findings, cancer specialist William B. Coleman, PhD, from the University of North Carolina Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, says:

“The frequency of cell fusion events in vivo is not known, although cell fusion is thought to occur under some circumstances such as cell injury, inflammation and viral infection. Although fusion of normal cells in vitro and in vivo may be a rare event, this study shows that cell fusion between normal cells can have pathological consequences.”

He adds that their results “provide evidence for another molecular mechanism driving neoplastic transformation – genomic catastrophe.”

Fused cells form tumors in mice

Interestingly, the team also found that when they transplanted IEC-6 cells into immunodeficient mice, during 12 weeks, they generated tumors in 61% of the hosts. In contrast, no tumors formed from the cells that did not fuse.

“We believe one cell fusion event can both initiate malignancy and fuel evolution of the tumor that ensues,” says lead author Xiaofeng Zhou, from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Dr. Coleman also adds that most cases of human spontaneous cancer are believed to come from cells that underwent random DNA damage or random errors during replication.

He calls for further research to determine whether cell fusion events between normal human cell types can bring about genomic catastrophe and neoplastic transformation.

Last week, Medical News Today reported on two studies that suggested immunotherapy is highly effective against cancer.


Supreme Court says no in Jerusalem passport case.

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
Updated 12:48 PM ET, Mon June 8, 2015
(CNN)—The Supreme Court struck down part of a federal statute Monday that allowed Americans born in Jerusalem to record in their passport “Israel” as the place of birth.

The 6-3 decision is a victory for the Executive, and a loss for Congress and the 12-year-old boy caught in the middle of a separation of powers dispute.

For the last 60 years, the United States policy has been to recognize no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, held that “over the last 100 years, there has been scarcely any debate over the President’s power to recognize foreign states.” Kennedy said that it was “clear” that in the statute at issue in the case,” Congress wanted to express its displeasure with the President’s policy, by among other things, commanding the Executive to contradict his own, early stated position on Jerusalem. This Congress cannot do.”

Kennedy said that the President has the exclusive power to grant formal recognition to a foreign sovereign and said that the law infringes on the Executive’s “consistent” decision to withhold recognition with respect to Jerusalem.

“Recognition is an act with immediate and powerful significance for international relations, so the President’s position must be clear. Congress cannot require him to contradict his own statement regarding a determination of formal recognition,” Kennedy wrote for the Court’s majority.

In dissent were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.

READ: SCOTUS rules in favor of man convicted of posting threatening messages on Facebook

Roberts, in a dissent joined by Alito, said “Today’s decision is a first: Never before has this Court accepted a President’s direct defiance of an Act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs.”

Roberts said “the statue at issue does not implicate recognition” but “simply gives an American citizen born in Jerusalem the option to designate his place of birth as Israel for the purposes of passports and other documents.”

Scalia took the rare step of reading part of his dissent from the bench, which was joined by Roberts and Alito, saying that the law at issue “merely requires the State Department to list a citizen’s birthplace as Israel” and does not require the President to make “any other kind of legal commitment.”

“Today, the Supreme Court confirmed something that lower courts and scholars had long assumed—that the power to recognize foreign governments (and their territory) resides exclusively with the Executive Branch,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, an analyst for CNN and a law professor of the American University Washington College of Law. “This is not only a landmark win for presidential power over foreign affairs, but a rather decisive loss for Congress—which passed the statute at issue entirely to thwart a half-century-old Executive Branch policy,” he said.

Legal experts have been closely watching the case eager to see how the Court would resolve the separation of powers dispute.

Caught in the middle was a 12-year-old boy, Menachem Zivotofsky. When he was born his parents sought to have “Israel” listed on his U.S. passport as his place of birth pursuant to a federal law. But the State Department refused.

For the last 60 years, the United States policy has been to recognize no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem. In 2002 when Congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, President George W. Bush signed the law but issued a statement saying he objected to section 214 at issue in today’s case.

In Court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli said that Congress can’t use its authority to regulate passports “to command the Executive branch to issue diplomatic communication that contradicts the government’s official position on recognition.”

He noted that the question of the status of Jerusalem “is the most vexing and volatile and difficult diplomatic issue that this nation has faced for decades.”

“The nations in the region, and frankly people around the world and governments around the world scrutinize every word that comes out of the United States Government and every action that the United States Government takes in order to see whether we can continue to be trusted as an honest broker who could stand apart from this conflict and help bring it to resolution,” he said.

But Zivotofsky’s lawyers framed the case differently. Alyza D. Lewin said the case is not about formal recognition, but simply how an American is identified on his or her passport.

“We do not claim this is recognition,” she said at oral arguments.

Justice Elena Kagan seemed to side with the State Department at oral arguments.

“History suggests,” she said, “that everything is a big deal with respect to the status of Jerusalem. And right now, Jerusalem is a tinderbox because of issues about the status of and access to a particular holy site there.”

Scalia argued the other side saying that Congress is entitled to do what is authorized under the Constitution and “the fact that the State Department doesn’t like the fact that it makes the Palestinians angry is irrelevant.”

The 12-year-old boy was in court to hear arguments on the major separation of powers case that featured his name. After arguments he told reporters, “I’m an Israeli, and I want people to know that I’m glad to be an Israeli.”