At the João Havelange Stadium, known as the “Engenhão”, home of the opening ceremony of the 5th Military World Games and track and field, there is a large banner that says “Friendship through sports”. The message highlights that, beyond the results, military athletes gather every four years to exchange experiences and get to know each other. Most return home without medals, but have many stories to tell. That is the case of Luis Briones Molina of the Ecuadorian Navy, who competed for the first time in the Military World Games. Briones arrived in Brazil thinking that he could at least advance to the quarterfinals in boxing in the 68kg weight class. He ended up realizing that he needs to train harder. “The level is very high. Much more than I imagined. I thought I would win, but I found a stronger opponent and lost,” said the Ecuadorian, who lost to the Moroccan Mehdi Khalsi. Briones began boxing in the Navy just three years ago. “I still have much to learn,” he says. Corporal Cesar Bru, Venezuela, advanced to the third stage in the foil category in fencing. It was a good showing for a South American. However, this isn’t what Bru most celebrated. “We need to appreciate the opportunity to compete in Games that are as competitive as these are. It was a learning experience for me. I am satisfied with everything I did here,” he said. Also in fencing, Sgt Joao Souza of Brazil praised the technical level of competition, and commented that he thinks he needs to have more exchanges with Europeans and Asians in order for his discipline to further develop in the continent. “Athletes who participate in these events grow. The Military World Games are, without doubt, a very important event. And that’s how you grow, competing with the best athletes in the world,” he said. Denzil Ramirez, of Trinidad and Tobago, was impressed with the structure found in Brazil. “This is wonderful. I feel fulfilled as an athlete,” said Ramirez, who finished 13th in the third semifinal heat of the 5,000-meter sprint. By Dialogo July 23, 2011
A prostitution ring that offered underage girls to the criminal gang Clan Úsuga has been taken down thanks to cooperative efforts by the Colombian Army, National Police, and Attorney General’s Office. “And who will she be with, your dad? … Tell him I’ll bring him the girl, but it must be with him,” she replied. “I don’t want her to be with some other brute.” In the end, Paola Machado didn’t take her sister because she found another girl to replace her. By Dialogo May 22, 2015 Before the Police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN) captured her, Paola lived with her family in a ramshackle house in Antioquia. The arrests cap a two-year investigation that included surveillance and wiretaps. Providing underage females to gang members Allegedly, during that investigation, a Clan Úsuga member would call Paola and ask for two or three females for a party every week. Often, they would ask for “zero kilometer” girls for their “dads,” a code phrase that referred to underage virgins for their commanders. In one case, Paola readily agreed, and even offered her own 11-year-old sister when one of the minors she had contacted cancelled at the last minute, according to a wiretapped conversation. Though Paola is not officially a Clan Úsuga operative, security forces captured her along with 71 members of the gang. The National Police, with support from the Army and the Attorney General’s Office, raided hideouts in four departments, seized 84 mobile phones, computers, and memory sticks, and detained 65 regular members, six ringleaders, and Machado. A prostitution ring that offered underage girls to the criminal gang Clan Úsuga has been taken down thanks to cooperative efforts by the Colombian Army, National Police, and Attorney General’s Office. Allegedly, during that investigation, a Clan Úsuga member would call Paola and ask for two or three females for a party every week. Often, they would ask for “zero kilometer” girls for their “dads,” a code phrase that referred to underage virgins for their commanders. In one case, Paola readily agreed, and even offered her own 11-year-old sister when one of the minors she had contacted cancelled at the last minute, according to a wiretapped conversation. Their work culminated in the late April arrest of Briseda Machado, the ring’s alleged pimp, along with 71 members of Clan Úsuga. Machado, also known as “Paola,” is 24, illiterate — and regarded as one of the organized crime group’s most important leaders. Its top leaders — Darío Antonio Úsuga David, who is also known as “Otoniel,” and his top lieutenant, Roberto Vargas Gutiérrez — were allegedly both Machado’s customers. She also allegedly provided prostitutes to Luis Orlando Padierna, who is known by the alias “Inglaterra.” Machado allegedly recruited underage girls at some schools in the department of Antioquia, especially in the towns of Apartadó, Carepa, Necoclí, Turbo, and Chigorodó. She lured the girls with promises of money, cell phones, motorcycles, and clothes, which they would receive from the men with whom they had sex. The National Police is currently trying to identify and assist the girls that were abused as part of Machado’s prostitution ring. Authorities are also working to capture any other people that might have helped Machado recruit girls in local schools or neighboring towns. “Well, if the ‘zero kilometers’ won’t come and your little sister is ready, then tell her to come…,” an unidentified Clan Úsuga member told Paola. “Well, if the ‘zero kilometers’ won’t come and your little sister is ready, then tell her to come…,” an unidentified Clan Úsuga member told Paola. The arrests were part of Operation Agamemnón, an ongoing joint operation that began on February 3. The National Police and the Army have deployed 1,200 and 1,000 men, respectively, to capture “Otoniel” and “Gavilán,” whom authorities suspect are behind many of the sexual abuse cases that Colombian authorities have detected. Their work culminated in the late April arrest of Briseda Machado, the ring’s alleged pimp, along with 71 members of Clan Úsuga. Machado, also known as “Paola,” is 24, illiterate — and regarded as one of the organized crime group’s most important leaders. Its top leaders — Darío Antonio Úsuga David, who is also known as “Otoniel,” and his top lieutenant, Roberto Vargas Gutiérrez — were allegedly both Machado’s customers. She also allegedly provided prostitutes to Luis Orlando Padierna, who is known by the alias “Inglaterra.” Before the Police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN) captured her, Paola lived with her family in a ramshackle house in Antioquia. The arrests cap a two-year investigation that included surveillance and wiretaps. Though Paola is not officially a Clan Úsuga operative, security forces captured her along with 71 members of the gang. The National Police, with support from the Army and the Attorney General’s Office, raided hideouts in four departments, seized 84 mobile phones, computers, and memory sticks, and detained 65 regular members, six ringleaders, and Machado. Having been convinced by Machado, the girls would usually travel an hour by car and another hour by mule to reach the criminal organizations’ parties. There they would be asked to wear special kinds of underwear by the Clan’s leaders, who, after sexually abusing them, would sometimes regale them with gifts, such as expensive clothes or money for breast augmentation surgery. The parties, organized with Paola’s help, went on for at least two years. Having been convinced by Machado, the girls would usually travel an hour by car and another hour by mule to reach the criminal organizations’ parties. There they would be asked to wear special kinds of underwear by the Clan’s leaders, who, after sexually abusing them, would sometimes regale them with gifts, such as expensive clothes or money for breast augmentation surgery. The parties, organized with Paola’s help, went on for at least two years. “And who will she be with, your dad? … Tell him I’ll bring him the girl, but it must be with him,” she replied. “I don’t want her to be with some other brute.” In the end, Paola Machado didn’t take her sister because she found another girl to replace her. Providing underage females to gang members There are no exact figures on the number of girls that Machado prostituted, but DIJIN investigators estimate that she would send at least two or three girls every week to some Clan Úsuga hideout in the Urabá. Phone calls asking for “zero kilometers” or regular girls would rise at the end of month, when the criminal organization pays its members. There are no exact figures on the number of girls that Machado prostituted, but DIJIN investigators estimate that she would send at least two or three girls every week to some Clan Úsuga hideout in the Urabá. Phone calls asking for “zero kilometers” or regular girls would rise at the end of month, when the criminal organization pays its members. Machado allegedly recruited underage girls at some schools in the department of Antioquia, especially in the towns of Apartadó, Carepa, Necoclí, Turbo, and Chigorodó. She lured the girls with promises of money, cell phones, motorcycles, and clothes, which they would receive from the men with whom they had sex. The arrests were part of Operation Agamemnón, an ongoing joint operation that began on February 3. The National Police and the Army have deployed 1,200 and 1,000 men, respectively, to capture “Otoniel” and “Gavilán,” whom authorities suspect are behind many of the sexual abuse cases that Colombian authorities have detected. The National Police is currently trying to identify and assist the girls that were abused as part of Machado’s prostitution ring. Authorities are also working to capture any other people that might have helped Machado recruit girls in local schools or neighboring towns. Excellent. Congratulations to the Colombian police This was very tragic news The Minister of Defense should do the same thing with the guerrilla and get rid of those who oppose him. In Colombia the government is in charge, not the insurgent insurgents. What’s it worth, if they catch them then let them go two days later and they keep on doing the same thing I think this is excellent. I am against the prostitution of minors. Please, parents, what’s wrong with you? I DON’T AGREE WITH THESE NEWS ITEMS
His franchise, which has been mediocre for so long, needs to soon show the on-field results its own brass promised. Delaying its turnaround is a dangerous game.”Padres fans have been patient with us,” Preller said in March, “understanding we’re trying to build something.”The understanding he’s enjoyed might not last much longer. Throughout the first half of this year, the Padres emphasized they were on the precipice of contention. General manager A.J. Preller said it before Opening Day. Manager Andy Green told reporters the same early this season. Clubhouse veterans such as Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers echoed the sense of optimism. But winning as soon as possible appeared a secondary priority when San Diego sent outfielder Franmil Reyes, left-hander Logan Allen and infielder Victor Nova to the Indians on Tuesday in exchange for Reds outfield prospect Taylor Trammell. Preller dealt two MLB-ready players and a 19-year-old for Trammell, who has offered promise but is struggling in Double-A and remains another year from reaching San Diego under the best circumstances. In other words, the Padres decided to punt again.MORE: Here’s how to watch “ChangeUp,” an MLB whiparound show, for free on DAZNReyes, 24, launched 27 home runs this year for the Padres to go along with an impressive batted ball profile that suggests he’ll be an offensive force for years to come. Allen, 22, was a consensus top-100 prospect entering the season and logged 25 big league innings before he was traded. Each player figured to serve as complementary pieces around a core of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack next year. A 2020 surge with Reyes and Allen in tow would not have been unreasonable to expect: San Diego entered Tuesday with its best winning percentage since 2014 and was set to return almost its entire lineup next year.Now, the team’s contention timeline might be moved back.The Reds made Trammell a first-round draft selection in 2016 because of his defense, speed and power potential, but he’s still an unproven asset relative to the players San Diego sent away. The 21-year-old probably won’t make his MLB debut until late 2020 or 2021, and his .236 batting average in Chattanooga this year could indicate a lasting flaw embedded in his game. Because prospects are so difficult to project, it’s uncertain how much better he’ll get and when that growth will occur.MORE: Trevor Bauer trade gradesEven if Reyes’ defensive struggles limit his upside, and Allen winds up being a back-end starter, as one rival executive told Ken Rosenthal, it’s pretty clear those players would help San Diego more in 2020. Allen in particular seemed ready to make an impact considering the Padres’ ongoing struggle to shore up their rotation depth.So while Trammell is another uber-talented kid the organization can develop, Preller’s focus should no longer be on far-away objectives. It’s not like he doesn’t already have a stacked farm system.
Red Bank Mayor Pat Menna, pictured with Bella, his 14-year old canine companion who died in January, has ushered in inititiatives that offer additional protections for pets. Photo courtesy Pat MennaRED BANK – Pets certainly deserve our protection and Red Bank’s mayor is making that a priority, winning support from Sen. Jennifer Beck. “There has to be a recognition that we owe a special responsibility to pets,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna, a longtime dog owner, referencing some steps the borough has taken recently to ensure greater protection for pets and animals and to shore up penalties for those who don’t adhere to their responsibilities. “They’re not toys; it’s a lifetime commitment, that continues after the cuteness of the puppy stage is over,” Menna continued, speaking of pet owners’ responsibilities.The borough council had adopted an ordinance at its March 11 meeting that puts in place stricter requirements – including limiting tethering a dog to no more than seven hours in a 24- hour period and prohibiting tethering during unduly hot and cold temperatures or inclement weather among other restrictions – and sterner penalties for dog owners who keep their pets tethered for long periods. The ordinance also requires any driver who injures an animal to immediately stop, provide assistance and contact the police to report it.A conviction for violating the ordinance has fines ranging upward of $1,000, according to the ordinance.Menna, a lawyer who has worked as a prosecutor in a number of municipalities for many years, has found, “penalties for animal cruelty are woefully insufficient.”Those who do commit acts of animal cruelty have a fairly high rate of recidivism and can be inclined toward “transferring a lot of that aggression onto humans,” numerous studies have indicated, he pointed out.“It’s a social problem that has to be nipped in the bud,” Menna said.Menna noted during the March 19-20 snowstorm a dog owner kept the pet out on a short leash for hours during the storm. That may not have been animal cruelty under state statute. But, “Is that a violation of the tethering law? Yes it is,” the mayor asked and answered.The council is now considering an ordinance that would place additional requirements on pet stores and breeders to protect the animals and customers. There hasn’t been any concerns with how the borough’s one pet shop has operated, “But I think it’s the responsible thing to do,” the mayor said.The council last year took another step in support of animals with the adoption of resolution asking state legislators to endorse a plan that could save some cats and dogs used in medical research. The resolution was inspired by a Minnesota law allowing healthy animals used in research to be placed up for adoption, instead of being largely euthanize, as has been the practice.Red Bank was the first municipality in the state to pass the resolution and since then 30 others have joined in, according to Menna.And Sen. Beck, (R-11), a borough resident and former councilwoman, has heard the call and offered her support.Beck has introduced a bill in the Senate dovetailing off the Red Bank resolution based upon her conversation with Menna, the senator said.“This will reinforce that our society and community in New Jersey would like to see these animals find a loving home,” Beck said.Beck, who said “I am truly an animal lover,” has another bill in committee presently, commonly called “Cheyenne’s Bill,” that would require mental health evaluations for those older than 18, charged and convicted of animal abuse and the results would be in a state attorney general’s database. State law mandates only for minors but not for adults.This bill was in response to an animal trainer charged with abusing animals in his care, according to Beck.Menna last year advocated for and council approved a measure to have what was called the “Dog Days of Summer” – closing the eastern end of Monmouth Street to vehicular traffic one weekday evening a week, allowing owners to walk freely with their leashed pets. Many non-food businesses on the street cooperated and permitted the two- and four-legged customers the run of the space, often offering treats for the pet.He hopes to again have a designated night to do it this summer and he would like to see more businesses follow suit. Menna would like to have restaurants and other food establishments eventually permitted to allow well-behaved pets on premises – a common practice in European cities, he said.State statute has long prohibited non-service animals from retail and wholesale food establishments, for health and safety concerns, according to David Henry health officer for the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission.Menna, on the other hand, contended that approach is “antiquated” and will hopefully be revisited.If he had been asked about 14 years ago if he was an “animal lover,” Menna suspected his answer would have been not really. But now, having had 14 years with Bella, his pet yellow lab who died in January, he acknowledged his answer is different.“The more time you spend with animals,” he maintained, “the more you wish a lot more people were like animals.”— By John Burton
Wigan have rejected an offer from Chelsea for Victor Moses, according to Sky.Chelsea were this morning reported to be planning to pip neighbours QPR to the signing of Moses, who has been tipped to leave the DW Stadium.The Blues are now said to have made a formal bid for the 21-year-old Nigerian.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Over the years I have met with many farm families in barns, fields and around kitchen tables to discuss succession planning and all that it involves. These can sometimes be very stressful, difficult and emotional visits. Some families put off these discussions because the topic is one that many don’t like to consider. However, planning and preparation will be beneficial to all family members involved in the farm business.Faculty at Penn State University, California State University and Old Dominion University published in the Journal of Extension the findings of a study they conducted of Pennsylvania farm families on the topic of farm succession planning. Below is a summary of the research findings. IntroductionIn addition to growing concerns about how to meet the retirement needs of older farmers, it is disconcerting that few senior operators have decided how managerial control of the farm will be passed to a successor prior to their death. For example, of 106 farm operators studied in California, only half had identified a successor. A similar study of 400 Iowa farmers found less than a third had selected a transferee.The consequences of a failure to plan can be severe — if the farm is inherited by multiple heirs, inheritance taxes and other fees may cripple the farm and its new owners. Inadequate farm succession planning may result in heirs becoming owners who are incapable of running the farm business; family conflict among heirs; and partition of family-owned and operated farm business assets to satisfy heirs who simply want to “cash in” their share of the business.Much is known about farm succession planning, i.e., the transfer of managerial control to the succeeding generation during the life of the owner of the business. Yet relatively little is known about why families wait to make farm transfer arrangements. Delayed planning is a complex, and challenging problem.Farm families in Pennsylvania were recruited by field staff of Penn State Cooperative Extension and Pennsylvania Farmlink to participate in the study. The following criteria were used to select families: 1) family farms with annual sales between $100,000 and $249,000, whose operators report farming as their major occupation; 2) families from across the state; 3) families engaged in more than one type of farming (dairy and vegetable); and 4) families with two and three generational configurations.Forty families meeting these criteria were contacted and provided more detailed information. Ultimately, nine families agreed to be interviewed. Where possible, interviews were arranged so that more than one adult family member, ideally from two or more generations, could be interviewed either simultaneously or separately by a different interviewer. This strategy was used to ensure that the data collected represented several generational perspectives about farm transfer issues. In total, 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with adult members of these nine families; respondents ranged in age from 22 to 80.The range of family experience in terms of discussing and acting on farm succession planning issues fits into three categories, as described below.Extensive experience considering/discussing farm succession issues that leads to action and a developed planThese families developed their farm transfer plans and took actions to enact them. The families shared the following characteristics. Respective roles were worked out in these relationships. There was clarity in identifying who was considered the most likely successor(s), and how assets would be divided up amongst children. There was also clarity in the underlying rationale for taking action. Family members were aware of the financial implications of holding off transfer decisions. A sense of urgency was conveyed by the older generation by phrases such as “must be done while we’re alive” and “we need to do what we can to keep the farm in the family.” The specific strategies and techniques used by these families varied substantially.Moderate amount of experience considering/discussing farm succession issues that leads to action and the start of planningThese families began to develop succession plans and ways to implement them.The families ascribed a high level of importance to developing succession plans, although, for various reasons noted in the Findings section, they did not finalize or enact their plans. Young adult members were clear on their parents’ commitment to keeping the farm within the family. However, the specifics of the succession plans were not clear. Questions, such as how assets will be divided up amongst siblings and specific roles and responsibilities for each family member were still undecided. In two of these families, there was a lead candidate for successor, but the identified successor had not indicated whether the successor would take over the farm.Limited experience considering/discussing farm succession issues and no action toward development of a succession planThese families had not developed farm transfer plans. In these families, there were more unknowns, particularly in terms of the question about successors, and less of a sense of urgency to figure things out. Various reasons for this were noted by these families. FindingsPassive communicationMany respondents could be portrayed as passive communicators. When responding to questions about how families reached mutual understanding on issues related to family relations and plans for the family farm, respondents placed more emphasis on what was implicitly understood rather than explicitly communicated. The following comments, made by families with limited and moderate levels of experience addressing farm succession planning issues, express a reliance on an intrinsic understanding of respective roles and responsibilities.“I don’t know if my grandfather ever expected it to be sold but it was kind of a nonverbal agreement between my dad and me (that we would get the farm out of debt and keep it in the family).” (Father, family with a moderate amount of experience).“They know what they can do and what they can’t do.” (Father, family with limited experience). Delays in planning due to unresolved issues in the lives of adult childrenParents of four of the families in the study (44%) made comments indicating significant delays in their families’ succession plans due to unresolved issues or uncertainty tied to the lives of individual family members. The two most common types of personal issues that were seen as inhibiting or delaying efforts to establish/finalize farm succession plans were those related to children’s career choices and their personal relationships. Waiting for children to make career decisionsFathers of several families were interested in working their children into their farm businesses, but felt they had to wait until their children made their decisions to stay on/return to the family farm. A father of a family with moderate experience stated, “I want to let it up to his decision. I don’t want me forcing him to come back.” Another father from a family with moderate experience said, “I would like for both boys to be able to take it [the farm] over, but right now, [name of son] seems to be the more interested one.” Even in a family with an extensive amount of experience working on their succession plan, there was uncertainty tied to the son’s career decision. The father of this family stated,“Right now it’s kind of like to see if [eldest son] wants to keep on farming down here… He’s going to have to let us know… I guess that’s what we were doing… sitting back waiting ’till this three year is done.” [“Three year” refers to a three-year plan the father worked out with his son: his son rents the farm and progressively buys equipment, cows, etc. and takes on increased ownership responsibilities.] Concern about the stability of successor’s family/marriageThe following comments made by parents indicate a concern about personal relationship issues in the lives of their children.“I’d like to make sure that if he gets married the marriage is stable before we go ahead and start getting him involved in the business and then have a divorce or messy situation like that.” (Father, family with moderate experience).“I was going to set up an agreement between him [oldest son] and me but I was kinda’ waiting. I didn’t trust her [his wife] and here last month she picked up and moved out. So I’m glad in that respect [e.g. waiting]; otherwise she would have had half of this.” (Father, family with limited experience).“I mean they’re interested and [son’s name] is certainly interested in what’s going on around here but as far as [my son] ever getting a part of it, help manage it, or help own it or anything else I just don’t see it. One reason is his wife wouldn’t have too much to do with the farm.” (Father, family with limited experience).The father of a family with a moderate amount of experience summed up the challenge of dealing with such personal issues with the following comment: “It’s easier to talk about farm issues than family issues.” Efforts to incorporate children’s perspectives into conversations about the farmAlthough it was understood by almost all parents that farm succession planning cannot be driven unilaterally by the senior generation, there was variation in how they went about asking for or accommodating children’s perspectives and concerns.Some parents tried to be subtle in their efforts to exert influence with their children. For example, a father of a family with a moderate amount of experience said, “I whisper in their ears.” A father with limited experience described how he and his college-aged son make decisions: “It’s like the old Abbott and Costello routine—’Who’s on first?’ Who’s in charge? I try and avoid telling ‘em what to do.”The parents quoted below had clearer notions about how to involve and communicate with their children about succession planning.“I don’t think I want to come to them with ‘this is the will.’ I want to come to them with a skeleton of what the will would look like to see if I (can better) appreciate their opinions.” (Father, family with a moderate amount of experience).“Sometimes I think still looking back it would have been better off sometimes sitting the whole family, everybody saying we’re going to do it this way. I think that is the best way to go… I think as a rule [having frequent family conversations about farm succession issues] is important if you want your children to stay and take the farm on… Better to get them involved to get them to take an interest in it. I think that’s important.” (Father, family with extensive experience).A surprising finding was that in half of the families, respondents felt unable to make immediate progress with farm succession planning due to unresolved issues or uncertainty tied to the lives of individual family members. Findings of personal disappointments and strained relationships are consistent with the literature, where many families experience high stress levels when considering and discussing farm planning issues.Intra-familial communication dynamics indicated heavy reliance on implicit understandings and expectations regarding other family members’ intentions, roles, and responsibilities. This passive orientation toward communication, together with the sense that some families were in a “wait and see” pattern (regarding the career and relationship decisions of children), left key issues unresolved, e.g., who would be the successor and how would other family members be compensated.Much of the discussion within the farm succession planning literature seems to be framed from within a power-holder centered perspective; much of the attention is on how current operators chose and groomed their successors and passed on management control. In contrast, our findings indicate that there are issues in the lives of the successor generation family members, beyond the “control” of older generation members that can delay or derail the succession planning process.Accordingly, we posit that intergenerational transfer of ownership and management can be helped by being inclusive of younger generations in key discussions and decisions about the future of the farm. Family members need opportunities to share individually held views, to explore common goals and values, and move forward, together, in establishing shared visions for farm and family.SummaryWhile not easy, it’s important that farm families have discussions about the transfer of management and ownership to the next generation. Involving Extension professionals, lenders, veterinarians or other trusted advisors can help start and keep the process moving.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest For the first quarter of 2019, U.S. beef exports were slightly below last year’s record pace while pork exports continued to be slowed by trade barriers, according to March data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). U.S. lamb exports were a first quarter bright spot, trending significantly higher than a year ago.March beef exports totaled 107,655 metric tons (mt), down 4% year-over-year, while value fell 2% to $678 million. For the first quarter, exports were down 3% at 307,306 mt valued at $1.9 billion (down 0.8%).March beef exports were very strong on a per-head basis, with export value per head of fed slaughter averaging $335.81 — up 1% from a year ago and the highest since December. The first quarter average was $309.32 per head, down 2% from a year ago. March exports accounted for 13.6% of total U.S. beef production and 11% for muscle cuts only, which was fairly steady with last March. For the first quarter these ratios were 12.9% and 10.2%, down from 13.2% and 10.7%, respectively, a year ago.Pork exports totaled 211,688 mt in March, down 7% from a year ago, valued at $520.7 million (down 15%). First quarter exports were 6% below last year’s pace in volume (600,268 mt) and down 14% in value ($1.47 billion).Pork export value averaged $48.55 per head slaughtered in March, down 15% from a year ago. For January through March, export value averaged $46.15 per head, down 16% from the first quarter of 2018. March exports accounted for 25.6% of total U.S. pork production and 22.7% for muscle cuts only — down from 27.5% and 23.5%, respectively in March 2018. First quarter exports accounted for 24.4% of total pork production (down from 26.6%) and 21.3% for muscle cuts (down from 23%). Beef exports to Korea still red-hot; Japan cools slightly in MarchSouth Korea continues to be the growth leader for U.S. beef exports, with first quarter volume climbing 8% year-over-year to 56,173 mt, while value ($414.2 million) was 13% above last year’s record-shattering pace. U.S. beef has achieved remarkable success in Korea’s traditional retail and restaurant sectors but is also rapidly gaining popularity in outlets such as convenience stores and e-commerce platforms. Recent export growth is not only in the ever-popular short rib category, but also in short plate, briskets, clods and rounds, as end-users recognize the versatility and affordability of high-quality U.S. beef.Beef exports to Japan were moderately lower than a year ago in March, but still finished the first quarter 2% above last year’s pace in volume (74,147 mt) and 5% higher in value ($480.4 million). This was fueled by growth in variety meat exports, with the U.S. shipping more tongues and skirt meat to Japan. U.S. beef faces a widening tariff disadvantage in Japan compared to imports from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, and the latest tariff reduction for these countries didn’t take effect until April 1.“U.S. beef cuts are still subject to a 38.5% tariff in Japan while our competitors’ rate is nearly one-third lower at 26.6%,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “This really underscores the urgency of the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, which must progress quickly if we are going to continue to have success in the leading value market for U.S. beef and pork.”Japan’s tariffs on beef variety meat are lower, but U.S. shipments are subject to a duty of 12.8% while competitors pay less than half that rate.Other first quarter highlights for U.S. beef include:Beef muscle cut exports to Mexico continued to shine, with first quarter volume up 14% from a year ago to 35,481 mt and value climbing 16% to $220.7 million. While variety meat exports trended lower year-over-year, combined beef/beef variety volume still increased 1% to 57,591 mt while value jumped 12% to $280.2 million.Exports to Taiwan were 3% above last year’s record pace at 13,487 mt, though value slipped 7% to $117.8 million. U.S. beef dominates Taiwan’s chilled beef market with nearly 75% market share — the highest of any Asian destination.CAFTA-DR markets continue to be an excellent source of growth for U.S. beef exports, with first quarter volume to Central America up 15% from a year ago to 3,628 mt and value up 19% to $21.2 million. Exports to the Dominican Republic soared 71% to 2,345 mt valued at $18.9 million (up 65%).Lower exports to Hong Kong and Canada offset some of the first quarter growth in other markets. Exports to Hong Kong trailed last year’s pace by 36% in volume (21,304 mt) and 30% in value ($177.1 million). Exports to Canada were down 14% in both volume (23,199 mt) and value ($143.8 million).S. exports to China were up 4% from a year ago to 1,723 mt, but this came at lower prices as export value fell 17% to $13.2 million. There is tremendous potential in the Chinese market for U.S. beef, but due to China’s restrictive import requirements and retaliatory duties pushing the tariff rate to 37%, U.S. prices are significantly higher than the competition. By comparison, most beef suppliers are subject to a 12% tariff in China while beef from New Zealand is duty-free and Australian beef pays only a 6% rate. Australia’s grain-fed beef exports to China in the first quarter totaled 14,347 mt, up 77% year-over-year. Market access obstacles take toll on first quarter pork exportsSince mid-2018, most U.S. pork entering Mexico has faced a 20% retaliatory duty imposed in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This turn of events ended six consecutive years of record export volumes to Mexico, and early 2019 is showing no signs of relief. First quarter exports to Mexico were down 13% year-over-year in volume (177,420 mt) and sank 29% in value ($261.9 million). The U.S. is still Mexico’s primary supplier of imported pork but Canada, Chile and the European Union have gained market share in 2019 and Mexico’s domestic pork production is trending significantly higher.U.S. pork also faces retaliatory duties in China, raising the total tariff rate from the normal 12% to 62%. This will make it difficult for U.S. pork to capitalize on any increase in China’s demand for imported pork, which analysts are projecting in the second half of 2019 and beyond, due to the spread of African swine fever. Through March, U.S. exports to the China/Hong Kong region were 20% below last year’s pace in volume (89,689 mt) and down 34% in value ($172.1 million).Leading value market Japan has not imposed any new tariffs on U.S. pork, but U.S. exports are at a disadvantage compared to pork from the European Union, Canada and Mexico due to their new trade agreements with Japan. As with beef, this gap will widen unless the U.S. and Japan reach a trade agreement. Through the first quarter, U.S. exports to Japan were 9% below last year’s pace in volume (92,503 mt) and 11% lower in value ($374.9 million).“The current environment for U.S. pork is a good illustration of why it has been such a high priority for the U.S. industry to develop a wider range of international destinations,” Halstrom said. “Though we absolutely must get back on a level playing field in Mexico, China and Japan, larger exports to emerging markets have offset some of the decline.”First quarter highlights for U.S. pork include:Continued strong growth in Colombia and a large increase in shipments to Chile and Peru pushed exports to South America 41% above last year’s record pace in volume (40,998 mt) and 40% higher in value ($99.3 million).Exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic also continue to exceed the record pace of 2018. Strong growth in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama along with continued growth to top market Honduras pushed exports to Central America 12% higher in volume (20,903 mt) and 7% higher in value ($48.1 million). Export volume to the Dominican Republic increased 15% to 10,969 mt while value was up 13% to $24.2 million.Oceania is a key market for hams and other muscle cuts destined for further processing, and first quarter exports increased significantly to both Australia and New Zealand. Export volume to the region was up 31% from a year ago to 30,070 mt while value increased 14% to $78.6 million.Exports to Taiwan surged 83% in volume (6,584 mt, the highest first quarter since 2011) and 57% in value ($14.3 million). U.S. pork has been limited in Taiwan by a zero-tolerance policy for beta agonists, but exports have still trended higher over the past two years. In 2019, the U.S. is the only major pork supplier reporting larger exports to Taiwan. Demand for U.S. lamb still climbingFueled by strong variety meat demand in Mexico and strong muscle cut growth in the Caribbean, the Middle East and Central America, U.S. lamb exports posted a solid first quarter. Exports increased 68% in volume to 4,173 mt while value was up 29% to $6.9 million. For muscle cuts only, exports were lower year-over-year in March, but first quarter exports still increased 25% in volume (659 mt) and 19% in value (just over $4 million).
The NFL playoffs begin Saturday, and if recent reports are any indication, this season could mark the end of the 12-team postseason era. In March, the league will vote on whether to expand its tournament field to 14 teams for the 2015 season — after which the floodgates may open for further expansion in subsequent seasons.This is not necessarily a bad thing. The NFL playoffs are a TV ratings bonanza, and it doesn’t seem as though our appetite for football is waning (despite a trying year off the field). Plus, teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans — all of which missed the playoffs this season despite winning records — make a case for creating more playoff spots. (And the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers hosting a home playoff game makes the case for re-seeding the field.)But which expanded format is best? As I’ve done in the past, I’ll take the perspective that the best format is the one that sees the most deserving team win the most often, using a Monte Carlo simulation to test playoff fields of various sizes.More specifically, I generated random preseason Elo ratings for every team (based on the historical distribution of real-life preseason Elo ratings) and simulated the real-life 2014 regular season schedule 1,000 times — an exercise similar to that performed by Doug Drinen in this classic post at the Pro-Football-Reference.com blog. For each of those simulations, I tracked the regular season standings, seeding the teams within each conference using simulated point differential as the tiebreaker.The preseason ratings represent the starting talent levels for every team, but they can go up or down depending on the simulated game outcomes, in accordance with the Elo formula. For instance, a team assigned an initial Elo below the league-average mark of 1500 could tear off an improbably great regular season and finish above 1700. That would be used as the team’s strength rating going into the postseason.For potential expanded fields of 14, 16, 20, and 32 teams, I tracked how often the most talented preseason and end-of-regular-season Elo team won the Super Bowl, as well as the average preseason and pre-playoff Elo ratings (and rankings) of the simulated Super Bowl champs. For comparison, I also ran this test for contracted fields of 2, 4, and 8 teams, as well as the current 12-team setup.Here’s a little more to help decipher that chart. When the playoffs contained just 2 teams, the average simulated Super Bowl winner had an Elo of 1565.3 before the season, which gave it an average ranking of 9.2 among the NFL’s 32 teams. Also, 12.8 percent of those Super Bowl winners were ranked No. 1 in the preseason. After the regular season was simulated, those teams averaged an Elo rating of 1690.1, with an average ranking of 2.5 within the league, and they led the league in post-regular season Elo 44.7 percent of the time. Finally, following the Super Bowl the average winner from our two-team-playoff universe had an Elo rating of 1711.6.Comparing those categories across all formats, the irony is that a BCS-style two-team playoff produces the most talented champion from the perspective of both preseason and end-of-regular-season Elo ratings. But since that’s clearly neither realistic nor desirable, it appears the 14-team bracket is the superior option. On average, it yields the most talented team of any expanded format, and enables that team to win the Super Bowl with quite a bit more frequency — perhaps due to first-round byes only being given to the top seed in each conference.Interestingly, a 14-team bracket also yields the best average post-Super Bowl rating for the champ among any format tested, expanded or not. (Granting that the current 12-team setup sees the better regular-season team win more often.) Based on this research, then, a 14-team playoff seems to strike the best balance between letting teams settle things on the field and putting the most deserving teams in a position to succeed.
OSU Junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington (92) tackles Minnesota senior running back David Cobb (27) during a Nov. 15 game in Minneapolis. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorMINNEAPOLIS — After 30 minutes of football, Minnesota had 118 yards on the ground.Up until Saturday’s matchup with the Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium, Ohio State had only been giving up 125.2 rushing yards per game — let alone in one half.Despite No. 8 OSU holding on for a 31-24 win in frigid temperatures, senior cornerback Doran Grant said the rushing output early in the game was hard to take, especially for senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett.“Mike Bennett took it very personally — he said some words I’m not gonna say right now,” Grant said about Bennett’s words to his teammates during halftime. “But the second half, we did a better job stopping the run.”Bennett said giving up 118 first-half yards to the Golden Gophers was simply unacceptable.“I don’t know what makes the rest of the guys mad,” he said after the game. “But watching the running back run up the middle of our defense pisses me off a lot.”Most of that yardage came by way of Minnesota senior running back David Cobb. He had 96 yards on the ground by halftime and scored both of his team’s first-half touchdowns. Those touchdowns — one of which capped off a 39-yard drive that saw Cobb carry the ball on all five plays — allowed the Golden Gophers to make up for an early 14-0 run by the Buckeyes.“I felt like there was a lot of apathy, like, ‘We only let ‘em get 14 points,’” Bennett said of OSU’s halftime attitude. “And I felt like we shouldn’t let them get any.”He said it wasn’t the first time he’s spoken up about his team’s play, but added he was particularly enthusiastic because run defense is his area of expertise.“If they’re running the ball, I’m gonna speak up,” he said.Redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee said Bennett shared his thoughts when players expressed that the Buckeyes were “fine” at halftime.“Guys around were saying, ‘Hey, you know, we’re fine, we’re fine,’” Lee said after the game. “But Mike took the lead and took the role like, ‘We’re not OK.’“Guys weren’t really doing their jobs, doing their assignments. We had this look around the locker room it’s like, ‘All right, just do your job, and let’s buckle down and let’s shut these guys down.’”Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa said Bennett took the vocal lead, but added that others on the team felt the same. He said that led to a new attitude when the Buckeyes took the field after the break.“Definitely came out with nice intensity in the second half,” Bosa said.After another 15 minutes of game time — accounting for the entire third quarter — Minnesota had added just 23 more yards on the ground. In that quarter, Cobb was held to just 15 yards on his five carries.Defensive line coach Larry Johnson speaks to senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett (63) during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 in Minneapolis. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorBennett said the Buckeyes’ play in the second half came after he led their “biggest call to action” in the locker room.“I think guys really responded to what I said and rallied around it,” he said. “And the other leaders stepped up, and the young guys really kinda took that seriously and started getting a chip on their shoulder, and we went and played this second half the way we should.”But even after the strong third-quarter showing, the Buckeyes gave up a total of 218 yards on the ground. The fourth quarter saw Minnesota run for 77 yards, 31 of which came on a quarterback scramble by redshirt-sophomore Mitch Leidner.“I think we got stuck in a rough call and he took advantage of it,” Bennett said of Leidner’s run. “That happens in football, but … what’s most frustrating is it boosted their rushing stats, because I feel like in the second half, we shut down the run.”Bennett finished the game with just two total tackles — one for a loss — but his vocal leadership helped spark an improved second-half performance for the Buckeye defense.OSU gave up 10 points in the second half, and seven of those points came two plays after a fumble by redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall gave Minnesota the ball in the red zone. The other three came on a late-game, second-down field goal when the Golden Gophers were trying to preserve time and get the ball back for a last-ditch comeback try.Cobb finished the day with 145 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while Leidner totaled 56 yards rushing.Before Saturday, OSU hadn’t given up more than 178 rushing yards since the season-opener on Aug. 30, when Navy’s triple-option attack helped the Midshipmen to 370 yards on the ground.But even though the Buckeyes held the Golden Gophers to just 85 passing yards, Lee said the success they had running the ball early is what will stick out in their minds.“Pass defense is pass defense, but you know you don’t ever want to let a team run all over you,” he said.After the Buckeyes’ close win, they are scheduled to return to Columbus on Nov. 22 to take on Indiana at Ohio Stadium. The game’s start time has not yet been announced.
Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones (12) lifts the Stagg Championship Trophy into the air following the Buckeyes win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 6 in Indianapolis. OSU won, 59-0.Credit: Chelsea Spears / Multimedia editorSeason-ending injures to two Heisman Trophy caliber quarterbacks, a week-two loss to an unranked opponent and the death of a teammate.That’s the string of adversity the Ohio State football team had to overcome on its way to a 59-0 drubbing of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and an eventual berth in the first-ever College Football Playoff.“We can say we did that and it just shows how truly special this group is and how we can come together, coaching staff, support staff, players, everyone,” senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said after OSU’s title-game win. “We just all came together and it was truly special.”Senior cornerback Doran Grant echoed Heuerman, and added the team’s attitude helped it fight through difficult times.“The thing is, I know we have a resilient team,” Grant said Sunday. “We’re fighters, and we overcame a whole lot of adversity.”The Buckeyes (12-1, 8-0) topped the Badgers on Saturday in Indianapolis, and then found out they were ranked No. 4 in the final edition of the College Football Playoff standings Sunday afternoon. That ranking meant OSU had moved into the final playoff spot, setting the Buckeyes up for a matchup with No. 1 Alabama on New Year’s Day.The game pits Buckeye coach Urban Meyer against Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban for the fourth time in their coaching careers. Meyer is 1-2 against Saban in the three previous matchups.Even after locking up their 35th Big Ten title, Grant said the Buckeyes weren’t positive they had done enough to convince to the playoff selection committee. But at the end of the day, they did.“We weren’t quite sure we were gonna get in or not, depending on what the committee put down, but (we) got in,” he said. “(I’m) excited. Chance to make history.”Going into the weekend, the Buckeyes needed at least a win — if not a blowout victory — in order to stake their claim on a playoff spot.But the matchup with Wisconsin came just more than a week after redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett — who was putting up Heisman-caliber numbers — fractured his ankle, and just under a week since the Buckeyes learned of the death of walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge.Barrett had already replaced another Heisman candidate in senior Braxton Miller, who was ruled out for the season after tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder during fall camp. So when OSU took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was down to former third-string redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones at quarterback, playing with the memory of Karageorge in mind.“A lot of things happened this past week,” Meyer said after the game. “There’s a family grieving that was a big part of our family. Kosta, we had a prayer and a moment of silence for him in our locker room for him and his family. We’ll never forget our teammate.”Senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett — who wore Karageorge’s No. 53 against Wisconsin in honor of his late teammate — said the player’s death brought the Buckeyes closer together.“Maybe he gave me strength, because I’ve never played like that before,” Bennett said. “I think he gave the guys strength and we were able to rally around together because we realized how special it is to do what we do with each other.”Bennett finished the game with a career-high four tackles for loss and two sacks, while also forcing a fumble that was returned by sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa for a touchdown.Bennett and the rest of the defense’s play was coupled with unprecedented offensive success for OSU, considering Wisconsin came into the game with the No. 2 defense in the nation.Jones racked up 257 yards and three touchdowns through the air while sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott piled on 220 yards and two more scores on the ground.On top of the adversity suffered in recent days, junior linebacker Joshua Perry said he and other non-seniors wanted to send the Buckeye veterans out with their first Big Ten Championship.“There was a lot of talk about that,” Perry said after the game. “They’ve been here, done a lot of great things. They’ve won a lot of games and really didn’t have too much to show for it, so we wanted to send them out right.”As the team banded together for the seniors — including Karageorge — and injured teammates, Meyer said the Buckeyes are the most improved team he’s coached. But he added they still have room to grow with the playoff looming.“We’re not a finished product,” he said Sunday. “There’s too many young players out there … the future’s very bright, though.”Grant said the team recognizes it has room to grow, and added that has helped the Buckeyes on their path to the playoff and a matchup with the top team in the nation.“That makes us better,” he said of playing through adversity. “Having to fight, having to be together, having to depend on one another even more knowing that we already had one loss early in the year.”And now after overcoming that loss on the field — and losses off of it — Grant said OSU will take on the Crimson Tide with the same attitude it had against the Badgers.“Play with a chip on our shoulders, and that’s what we did last night, too,” Grant said Sunday. “Gotta play angry, because we need that respect, we want that respect for Ohio State. Because that’s what Ohio State deserves.”Meyer said he didn’t initially expect the Buckeyes to be in the position they are before the season started. He added that he feels the team has proven what it can do, but he didn’t realize that until the blowout of the Badgers.“I started seeing it but I didn’t believe it completely until the experience we had on Saturday night,” Meyer said.While his coach said he realized how far the Buckeyes had come while still in Indianapolis, Grant said it took until Sunday to fully grasp what the team has accomplished, and to turn its attention to what lies ahead.“Last night was kinda like, ‘Man, what just happened?’” Grant said Sunday. “But then now, it’s all coming. We see it on TV, we’re in the four spot, we see our name by that four. So now it’s real, it’s legit and we’re ready to take on this challenge.”OSU and Alabama are scheduled to play on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m.