USDA Extends Deadlines for Dairy Margin Coverage, Market Facilitation Programs

New Signup Deadline Is December 20

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 11, 2019 – Due to the prolonged and extensive impacts of weather events this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today extended the deadline to December 20 for producers to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage(DMC) program for the 2020 calendar year. The deadline had been December 13.  USDA announced is also continuing to accept applications for the Market Facilitation Program through December 20.

“2019 has challenged the country’s ag sector – prevented or late planting followed by a delayed harvest has been further complicated by wet and cold weather,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “Because some of our producers are still in the field, time to conduct business at the local USDA office is at a premium.  We hope this deadline extension will allow producers the opportunity to participate in these important programs.”

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), the program offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. 

The Market Facilitation Program is part of a relief strategy to support American agricultural producers while the Administration continues to work on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. MFP payments are aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. 

For more information, visit the DMC webpage, the MFP webpageor your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

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More Virginia Residents Speak Languages Other Than English


By Ezaddeen Almutairi, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Nahlaa Alsilfih Alahmari and her husband, Abdullah Alahmari, are graduate students from Saudi Arabia. She is pursuing a doctorate in education at Virginia State University, and he is working toward a doctorate in media, art and text at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The couple is living in Richmond with their three children: a 9-year-old son, Muath, and daughters Ilan, 11, and Afnan, 4.

Though the family is thousands of miles from home, the Alahmaris want their children to stay connected to Saudi culture and especially the national language. So the parents speak Arabic to the children at home, and the youngsters take Arabic lessons at the Islamic Center of Richmond.

“Teaching my kids to speak in my maiden language is a very important thing to do. It is important to me as a mother and very important to the community as a whole,” Nahlaa Alahmari said. “It allows my children to feel more connected to their state of origin.”

The Alahmari family reflects the growing diversity of languages spoken in Virginia: The proportion of residents who speak a language other than English at home has risen from 14.8% in 2010 to 16.4% last year, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Approximately 7.5% of Virginia households speak Spanish, the data showed. Then come Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, each at slightly less than 1%. Dozens of other languages are spoken in the commonwealth as well — from Hindi and German to Telugu and Russian.

Arabic speakers represent one of the fastest-growing language groups in Virginia. Since 2010, the number of Arabic speakers in the commonwealth has risen 63% to almost 60,000, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Not surprisingly, the rise in Arabic speakers has paralleled the rise in the number of Virginians who trace their ancestry to the Arab world.

About 78,000 of Virginia’s 8.5 million residents claim Arab ancestry. That’s up 31%, from 59,000, in 2010.

Nationwide, the number of U.S. residents of Arab descent increased 28% — from about 1.65 million in 2010 to more than 2.1 million last year.

The states with the most Arab-ancestry residents are California (about 325,000), Michigan (200,000), New York (176,000) and Texas (157,000).

In most states, people with Arab heritage make up less than one-half of 1% of the population. The states with the highest concentrations of Arab-ancestry residents are:

  • Michigan, at 2% of the population
  • New Jersey and Massachusetts, at just above 1%
  • Virginia and New York, at just below 1%

Within Virginia, Fairfax County has the highest concentration of Arab-heritage residents — 2.7%.

U.S. residents with Arab ancestry come from a range of countries. Lebanese is the most common nationality, followed by Egyptians and Syrians.

Studies show that migration from the Middle East and North Africa increased after the Arab Spring, the anti-government protests and uprisings that spread across much of the Islamic world in the early 2010s. That might explain the rise in the Arab population in the U.S. this decade.

Although Arab countries have their own cultures and traditions, one commonality is language. As people from those countries have immigrated to America, they have brought the language with them and sought to pass it along to their children.

Academic research has documented the benefits and challenges when people continue speaking their mother tongue abroad and teach it to their children.

For example, a study titled “Bilingual Children’s Mother Tongue: Why is it important for education?“ highlights how social, racial and cultural barriers can discourage people from learning their mother tongue and how parents can establish a strong language policy to avoid language loss.

Mohammed Albishri, a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado at Denver, is a linguistic specialist. He said children who learn two languages end up speaking both better.

“For children who are already deep in the understanding of a different language, teaching them to speak in English can never have a negative impact on them,” Albishri said. “The understanding of a different language will further perfect the children’s understanding of English language. They will assimilate the language faster and better.”

About three-fourths of the Arabic speakers in Virginia say they speak English “very well,” according to the Census Bureau’s survey.

For children of immigrants, the problem often is not learning English — it’s learning the language of their home country. Nahlaa Alahmari said it can be a challenge to get her children to study Arabic.

“Sometimes,” she said, “my kids themselves resent practicing the language as they say it is too difficult for them to comprehend — which, of course, it is reasonable as no one else around them speaks the language.”

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Companies work together to integrate Comcast’s Xfinity Stream into NuEyes smart assistive technology

DECEMBER 11, 2019 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – Comcast today announced a partnership with wearable technology startup NuEyes to bring the Xfinity Stream entertainment viewing experience to visually impaired customers through NuEyes virtual reality technology. The Xfinity Stream app, which allows customers to watch live TV and On Demand content on any device, is now available on the NuEyes e2 smartglasses and VR magnifying device that enhances the usable vision of a person who is visually impaired.  Xfinity Stream is pre-installed on NuEyes e2, allowing users with visual disabilities to see TV shows, news, movies, live sports, and more, independently.

Founded by a veteran, NuEyes’ mission is to give millions of people across the U.S. who are visually impaired the independence they may have lost due to conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa. The lightweight design of the NuEyes e2, paired with handsfree and wireless functionality, gives people with low vision the ability to participate in their everyday lives in ways that were once difficult or impossible, like clearly seeing loved ones’ faces, reading, cooking and enjoying television.

“Being blind since birth, I know firsthand the power of technology to enhance independence,” said Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Accessibility at Comcast.  “Our partnership with NuEyes is an extension of our commitment to designing great entertainment experiences for people of all abilities.”

James Baldwin, an 18-year Army Veteran, began losing his vision three years ago due to an injury sustained during his service.  He lives with a prosthetic left eye and limited vision in his right eye. James was one of the first customers to experience Xfinity Stream on NuEyes e2, allowing him to watch TV again for the first time in years.  You can watch James' story here, including James’ reaction to seeing his wife Claudia, a fellow blind veteran, for the first time using NuEyes.

“Collaborating with Comcast has been an absolute joy,” said Mark Greget, Founder and CEO of NuEyes. “To be able to stream content directly to our consumers’ eyes in a way that has never been done before enables millions of visually impaired people to continue enjoying their TV experience and more.” 

Over the past several years, Comcast launched the industry’s first talking TV guide, introduced a voice-activated remote control, launched X1 eye control for the TV and produced the first live entertainment show in U.S. broadcast history, The Wiz Live, to be accessible to people with a visual disability. Comcast also has a service center specifically dedicated to customers with disabilities where agents are specially trained in the company’s accessibility features and general support issues.

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