Business & Consumer Affairs

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Iowa Counties Stick To Home To Win Fights Over Frac Sand Mining

An entrance on the west end of a Pattison Sand Company mine in rural Clayton County, Iowa, near the small town of Clayton, on June 24, 2014. Pattison, which produces industrial sand for the natural gas and oil industries, has about 35 acres of underground mine and 300 acres of above ground for plant operations, shipping and storage, ponding and drying, maintenance, a fabrication shop, reclamation areas and an open pit mine.

A group of northeast Iowans effectively is keeping large frac sand mine companies from mining silica-rich sand in their county by building a consortium that set aside politics and focused on dealing with the matter locally, instead of with state intervention. Continue Reading →

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Federal Action Against Payday Loans Is Picking Up

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun acting to rein in abuse, producing a report critical of the industry and requiring two payday businesses to provide refunds and pay million-dollar fines. The bureau also is drafting rules that could provide further protections for consumers. Continue Reading →

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Alternatives To Payday Loans Exist

The sign for Easy Cash Solutions and the neighboring store, EZ Pawn, on First Avenue in Cedar Rapids is pictured on February 26.

Some financial institutions, banks and credit unions in Iowa are trying to create alternatives to payday loans and help people who are unbanked open accounts. The program provides second-chance bank accounts and small dollar loans. Continue Reading →

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High-Interest Payday Loans Called Predatory, But Regulations Die In Iowa Legislature

Easy Cash Solutions, on First Avenue in Cedar Rapids, is pictured on February 26

Brian Curtis took out his first payday loan when he was 19. It took more than a decade before he got out from under it and the climbing interest payments that followed. “It’s a trap,” he said. Curtis, 37, and living in Davenport, said he had roughly $5,000 in payday loan debt after taking out loans for a $1,500 car repair while living in Florida, and then again when he moved to Missouri and needed a deposit for an apartment. Add to that more than $22,000 in interest that accrued and he said he faced a bill topping $27,000. Continue Reading →

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Growing Influence: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Crop Insurance

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At least 80 groups spent more than $50 million lobbying over the Farm Bill overhaul of crop insurance. Yet, crop insurance does not ensure more food, an Iowa State University researcher says in this special report by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and Harvest Public Media. Continue Reading →

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Lobbyists Of All Kinds Flock To Farm Bill

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The $956 billion Farm Bill, which set U.S. food policy for the next decade, is no longer the purview solely of agricultural interests. It has evolved from a spotlight on commodities to a focus on consumers, a joint investigation by Harvest Public Media and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found. Continue Reading →

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Bioengineers Hope Turning Garbage Into Gas Opens A Green Frontier in Iowa, Midwest

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The thought of turning your dinner table leftovers, old cardboard boxes and even dirty diapers into fuel for your car might sound ambitious, or even absurd. But scientists, bioengineers and profit-minded businesspeople say they can do it. Continue Reading →

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Climate Change Threatens U.S. Food Security; Crop Insurance Poised To Remain Hot Topic

Soybean harvest just north of Mansfield, Ill., in early October 2013. The National Climate Assessment, released earlier in May, outlined how climate change will affect the $330 billion a year agriculture industry.

Federal crop insurance programs may serve even greater roles when it comes to farmers’ risk management plans, in light of a recent government report on global warming, industry officials say. Continue Reading →

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