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MBJ FEATURE

Betting the farm

While the escalation in farmland values in the Midwest has gained national attention, Mississippi agricultural land has had a less-noticed run-up of its own. From 2009 through 2010, Mississippi’s cropland rose 5 percent in value, keeping pace with Missouri and Kansas and outpacing Illinois (3.2 percent) and Iowa (1.2 percent), the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported. Mississippi per-acre prices still ...

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Foreclosure settlement could aid underwater Mississippians

A proposed $20-billion settlement to an investigation of fraudulent mortgage foreclosure practices across the nation could help underwater borrowers in Mississippi hang on to their homes through write downs on principal balances. But the wider price could involve a block to the state bringing further legal action on related foreclosure wrongdoings. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has been part of ...

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Bankers group encouraged by bid to quash debit fees cap

The American Bankers Association says legislation introduced in the Senate last Tuesday gives it hope that banks can avoid a pending cut in the fees they receive from merchants on debit card transactions. The so-called Durbin amendment, named after sponsor Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, mandates the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors put a cap on the fees that can ...

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Retailer sees cap delay as another bailout of banks

As Indianola convenience store chain owner Walton Gresham sees it, the debate over whether to limit swipe-card fees comes down to whether Congress wants to provide an economic stimulus to businesses like his or give more charity to the banks that issue the cards. Last Wednesday, he had a name for the bill a bi-partisan group of U.S. senators introduced ...

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Surprising soybeans

First-of-its-kind study complete; three-year project yields surprises Delta soybean farmer Bill Ryan Tabb repeatedly uses two words to describe his feelings going into the 2011 planting season — “optimistic” and “scared.” And, he is not alone. So, the recent release of the findings of an exhaustive, multi-year, first-of-its-kind study of insecticide-treated soybean seeds is more than welcome by Tabb and ...

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Agent issues

A bill that seeks to curtail the activities of rogue athlete agents and expand Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s power to investigate them is headed to conference committee. House Bill 1190 was one piece of Hosemann’s business reform legislative package. At the center of the disagreement between the House and Senate is each chamber’s definition of an agent and the ...

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Stars fall on Mississippi banks: Bauer designates 45 ‘superior’

Nearly half of the Mississippi’s 92 banks and savings and loan institutions received BauerFinancial’s highest rating, a “superior” designation of five stars, for the fourth quarter. In setting its rating, the Coral Gables, Fla-based BauerFinancial evaluates – among other factors — profitability/loss trend, delinquent loans levels, charge-offs and repossessed assets, the market versus book value of the investment portfolio, regulatory ...

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Court puts claws in ‘cat’s paw’

A decision recently rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court opens employers to liability for discriminatory employment practices in a theory that up until the ruling had gained little traction in the higher courts. Now, human resources managers need to be aware that the “cat’s paw” liability theory has been deemed constitutional and holds broad implications for employment practices moving forward. ...

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Who should lead the MDA?

Speculation is rampant. Who is going to replace Gray Swoope as executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) on an interim basis, and who might the next governor chose as a permanent replacement? The Mississippi Business Journal recently conducted an informal survey of approximately a half-dozen Mississippi economic developers, and asked them who they saw as solid prospects for ...

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