Organic Food As a Fast-Growing Segment of US Agriculture

Lately organic food is gaining popularity, the trend being stable for at least five years. The recent research conducted by the Food Marketing Institute provides proof that majority of American citizens buy organic food at least once a month.

This segment of US agriculture shows rapid growth. Only in 2007 organic food retailers earned more than 20 billion dollars. The annual growth of organic dairy industry is estimated to be 18 percent by the year 2010.

Let us have a look at the main idea beneath organic food production, i.e. using materials and practices that could improve the ecological balance of natural systems. We cannot be absolutely sure that organic products are free of residues yet there are best practices involved in production that are directed at minimizing pollution from air, soil and water. And organic food production is controlled y strict state and federal standards, too.

Thus mostly people tend to treat organic food as that which is devoid of fertilizers or pesticides. Nonetheless the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labelled food as organic if it is 95 percent pure.

Sometimes products contain only 70 percent of organic materials or even less. This kind of food cannot be called organic but it can be labelled “made with organic ingredients”. Thus you should differentiate between these forms of products at the supermarket.

De facto non-organic practices in the USA release more than one billion pounds of pesticides. The USDA’s tests prove that organic products contain three or four times less pesticide residues than in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables.

And conventional practices in agriculture can result in water contamination. According to Environmental Working Group’s research that was conducted back in 1955 across the Corn Belt, in Louisiana and Maryland, scientists concluded that tap water pesticide contamination was at health risk levels. The solution was in organic farming methods, as well as developing the soil.

It is important to notice that the term organic has another meaning than organic. Sometimes food producers seeking higher sales and good reputation make tricks by labelling their food as natural as it does not comply to organic food standards.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows using the term natural for food that does not contain any added colourings, artificial ingredients or synthetic substances.

That is why more and more non-organic producers try to present their products as good for health and thus, in 2008, about one third of all new US food and beverage products were labelled with the word “natural”.

An Aion Primer – Basic Aion Guide

The massively multiplayer online RPG known as Aion (full name: “Aion: Tower Of Eternity”) is NCSoft’s latest foray into the MMORPG genre. So, what’s Aion all about and what makes it different from the myriad of other popular MMO games on the market now? This article aims to be your guide to the world of Aion, to give you a primer on the basics of how Aion works and what you can expect from the game.

The game takes place in two separate “worlds”, Elysea and Asmodae, inhabited by the Elyos and Asmodians, respectively. Elysea is bright and cheerful, whereas Asmodae is more dark and sinister. Players begin the game as humans in whichever world they choose. Players gain experience by completing quests and defeating enemies, which they then use to “level up” their characters. Once characters reach the required level, they become winged immortals known as “Daevas”. Once a character has become a Daeva, they travel to the capital city of whichever world they inhabit, to begin their new lives. Features

Character Creation & Customization

An important feature in any RPG, Aion features a robust character creation and customization system. This system allows players to fine-tune the height, weight and scale of various body parts. A variety of hair styles, skin colors, facial textures and voices are available to choose from. Players can go really in-depth with their character’s detailing, by adjusting eye shape/color, nose shape, ear size/shape, and tattoos for the character’s face and/or body. Aion also features the ability to dye a character’s equipment to change its color, and the ability to interchange graphics between weapons and armor that the characters have in their inventory (though this graphic swapping must be done between items of the same type).

Skill Chains

Many RPGs allow characters to gain and improve new skills as they progress. Aion introduces a subtle twist to this game mechanic with “Skill Chains”. With “Skill Chains”, skill upgrades may only be performed in a certain order (hence the term “chain”).

Classes

There are four “primary” classes: Warrior, Mage, Scout, or Priest. Once characters reach level 9, the player can then choose from two “specialized” classes related to their original “primary” class. Warriors can become either a “Templar” or “Gladiator”. Likewise, Mages can become either a “Sorcerer” or “Spirit Master”, Scouts can be either “Assassin” or “Ranger”, and Priests can become either a “Cleric” or a “Chanter”. Professions

On top of your character classes, there are six “crafting” professions (Alchemy, Cooking, Tailoring, Handicrafting, Weaponsmithing, and Armorsmithing) and two “extracting” professions. The extracting professions are learned automatically by each player, but the crafting professions must be learned manually. A single character is able to learn ALL of the crafting professions, but only master two. Becoming a “master” of a profession gives the player a fancy title and a boost to his or her stats.

Grouping

Players can join together to form a “group”. Groups can accommodate up to six players. Certain parts of Aion are designed for group play, and in some areas a group is required for entrance. Building on the group mechanic, in Aion up to four groups may form what is known as an “alliance” when greater numbers are needed. However, being a part of an alliance can limit your rewards from smaller quests intended for single or group play.

PvPvE system

The “Abyss” is a PvP area physically located between the two game worlds. Once characters reach higher levels, much of the game of Aion revolves around PvP encounters in this area. The Abyss features strongholds which can be controlled by “Legions” (Aion for “guild”). Players battle it out to gain and keep control of these various strongholds. Again, Aion introduces another twist with siege weapons players can obtain from raids, and use in these battles. Control of a stronghold means income from taxes, and players get perks from stores and NPCs. Battling it out with your fellow players in the Abyss will get you “Abyss Points”. These points are used to rank you among the rest of the Aion players out there. Why does this matter? Well, higher ranks unlock visual upgrades to your characters wings, and you can use your Abyss points to purchase high-end armor and weapons.

Some Interesting Common Cold Statistics For The New Season

Common cold statistics provided by government agencies indicate that on the average children have six to ten colds per year, but some children have as many as twelve. Seeking treatment for a common cold is one of the leading causes of doctor visits, though doctors can do little to treat the illness. Antibiotics are ineffective and should not be taken for common cold prevention or treatment. Over use of antibiotics is believed to be the cause of an increase in more resistant strains of bacteria.

What to take for a common cold is a matter of some debate. Practically everyone has there own home remedy and researchers have studied many of these for effectiveness and safety. Over the counter drugs such as antihistamines have been evaluated for their effectiveness in treating common cold symptoms and while research indicates that these products are safe when used as directed, many of them may be ineffective. One study showed that the most effective of these over the counter drugs is one called guaifenesin, an expectorant.

Common cold statistics relating to lost days of school indicate that 22 million school days are lost each year on account of the illness. However, many products should not be taken by children. The directions for a common cold remedy will typically say “not for children under 12” and may advise doctor consultation. Additionally, parents should not give child aspirin or products that contain aspirin because of the established link between aspirin use, viral infections and Reye’s syndrome, a rare, but sometimes life threatening disease than can follow viral infections in children. A number of infant and toddler deaths have been associated with overdoses of over the counter cold remedies. When treating your children, read directions carefully, age and weight are factors. Those products that are designed for “children” are usually not safe for infants. Always check with your doctor before given any over the counter medication to a child.

Adult common cold statistics vary greatly. On the average, most adults have two or three colds per year, but some people have none and some have more than three. Those who care for school age children probably have more than the average. People who have asthma are more susceptible to colds. Scientists studying asthma patients found that they produce less than average anti-viral proteins. Anti-viral proteins, produced by specialized blood cells, can prevent a virus from being able to reproduce and can destroy viruses by attaching to them and causing holes in their cellular walls. Products that stimulate immune system function are sometimes recommended for a common cold, for this and other reasons.

Most immune system stimulants contain vitamin C. During an infection, vitamin C levels in the bloodstream decrease dramatically. Vitamins A, E and the mineral zinc are also necessary for proper immune system function. Other nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium are needed so that the cells of the body can easily absorb vitamin C. In other words, a good daily multi-vitamin, in addition to a well balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be good for a common cold and for overall good health.

The latest common cold statistics from Reuters Health Information concerns a study performed at the University of Virginia, in which researchers enlisted 15 people who were infected with the rhinovirus (the virus that causes the majority of common colds) to stay in a hotel room overnight alone. The objects in the room that the participants reported touching were swabbed and tested for active rhinovirus on the next day. The researches concluded that the virus remained active and capable of infected others for a day or longer. Previous information for a common cold causing rhinovirus indicated that the virus could remain active on surfaces for as long as three hours. What this new study means is that the virus remains active longer and is more easily transmitted than previously thought, making good health habits to prevent   transmission  even more important. To learn more about the common cold and natural products that may help reduce the number you get every year, please visit the Immune System Booster Guide.

Signs of Global Sanity? Sharing of Innovative Agricultural Solutions to Help Farmers and Consumers

Agriculture is the direct or indirect livelihood of three quarters of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas.

The 2008 food crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis, showed the extreme vulnerability of developing countries to fluctuations in food prices and supplies.

But the impact was not only on developing world farmers – it affected consumers world-wide in food scarcities, eg rice in Thailand, and higher prices.

In Nov 2008 Egypt – UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) sponsored the first ever international conference on Sharing Innovative Agribusiness Solutions – From Farms to Markets: Providing Know-how and Finance.

If the conference activities can be sustained it’s an initiative that would potentially benefit small farmers in developing world, consumers everywhere and the planet as a whole.

“Our vision is sustainable development”

In his opening speech Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, Founder of SEKEM said that Sustainable development could satisfy our needs and aspirations without decreasing the chances for future generations……but that we need to learn the basic principals of ecology.

“….. Being ecologically literate means understanding the principles of organisations of ecological communities including our educational comĀ¬munities, political and business communities. So that principles of education, management and politics include the principles of ecology.”

A little about SEKEM

In 1977 the economic and social hardship of his countrymen galvanised Social Entrepreneur and medical doctor Dr Abouleish into buying 70 hectares of desert scrubland, 60 km north-east of Cairo and close to the River Nile.

He called the new experimental farm there SEKEM – from Ancient Egyptian: “vitality from the sun”.

SEKEM was able to transform the desert into a showcase example of sustainable agriculture and a healthy ecosystem through biodynamic farming methods.

Its efforts in organic cultivation led to the conversion of the entire Egyptian cotton industry to organic methods.

Starting off with a dairy and crop farm, SEKEM soon began to produce herbal teas and to market its biodynamic produce in Europe. This initiative helped other farms in Egypt to switch to biodynamic farming. A part of its mix of activities the farm uses bio-fertilizers.

The 2008 Cairo conference brought together over 400 agribusiness stakeholders from more than 65 countries, including representatives of private and public institutions (technical and financial), international organizations, donor countries, civil society, universities and research institutions to share innovative agribusiness solutions

Topics covered supply/value chains, market access and linkages, Compliance with standards and conformity assessment, Technology and value addition and Innovative forms of financing

Participants were enthusiastic about working together to achieve change. central to the debate were “Innovation and opportunity”, “partnerships based on trust” and “the need for commitment”, also the need for a holistic approach to agriculture taking into account the needs of specific groups, and avoiding the mistake of thinking that “one size fits all”.

Four key issues were identified:

1. Financial: small producers need finance to bridge the gap between initial costs and eventual benefits to help them enhance their productivity and agricultural product distribution.

2. Up to date information: small farmers and SMEs need access to up-to-date market information to enable them to compete effectively in local, regional and international markets.

One example cited was an Indian project, an e-Choupal (“choupal” means gathering place in Hindi) programme that places computers with internet access in rural farming villages; e-Choupals acted as both a social gathering place for exchange of information and an e-commerce hub.

3. Investment in supply-chain infrastructure: Governments, the food industry, agribusiness and consumer goods retailers need to invesr in supply-chain infrstructures, which have a long economic life.

e-Choupal had a role here too: Out of an initial effort to re-engineer the procurement process for soy, tobacco, wheat, shrimp and other cropping systems in rural India grew a highly profitable distribution and product design channel for the company – an e-commerce platform and also a low-cost fulfilment system focused on the specific needs of rural India

4. Use of technology: using technological know-howfor improving yields, includingbio-fertilizers applied as soil or seed inoculants and foliar spray, reduction of post-harvest losses through better product preservation techniques, quality preservation processes and innovative ingredients to reduce microbial and toxin contamination, increased cost-efficiency related to local production, collective brands and quality criteria enhancement to strengthen small-scale producers, packaging technology and efficient logistics.

A range of follow-up activities was reportedly initiated, including a new project (supported by the Italian Development Cooperation) to extend ETRACE(UNIDO’s Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-Industrial Exports) activities and help other developing countries to establish similar centres.

Further follow-up initiatives will focus on promotional and outreach activities such as the development of an interactive networking and matchmaking platform for agribusiness practitioners, which will allow continuous sharing of more innovative solutions and best practices with more participants and thus foster more business and development partnerships

If the momentum from this conference can be sustained the future could be brighter for all of us, consumers and farmers alike.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Making Investment Plans

Steps In Investing

Step 1: Meeting Investment Prerequisites-Before one even thinks of investing, they should make sure they have adequately provided for the necessities, like housing, food, transportation, clothing, etc. Also, there should be an additional amount of money that could be used as emergency cash, and protection against other various risks. This protection could be through life, health, property, and liability insurance.

Step 2: Establishing Investing Goals-Once the prerequisites are taken care of, an investor will then want to establish their investing goals, which is laying out financial objectives they wish to achieve. The goals chosen will determine what types of investments they will make. The most common investing goals are accumulating retirement funds, increasing current income, saving for major expenditures, and sheltering income from taxes.

Step 3: Adopting an Investment Plan-Once someone has their general goals, they will need to adopt an investment plan. This will include specifying a target date for achieving a goal and the amount of tolerable risk involved.

Step 4: Evaluating Investment Vehicles-Next up is evaluating investment vehicles by looking at each vehicle’s potential return and risk.

Step 5: Selecting Suitable Investments-With all the information gathered so far, a person will use it to select the investment vehicles that will compliment their goals the most. One should take into consideration expected return, risk, and tax considerations. Careful selection is important.

Step 6: Constructing a Diversified Portfolio-In order to achieve their investment goals, investors will need to pull together an investment portfolio of suitable investments. Investors should diversify their portfolio by including a number of different investment vehicles to earn higher returns and/or to be exposed to less risk as opposed to just limiting themselves to one or two investments. Investing in mutual funds can help achieve diversification and also have the benefit of it being professionally managed.

Step 7: Managing the Portfolio-Once a portfolio is put together, an investor should measure the behavior in relation to expected performance, and make adjustments as needed.

Considering Personal Taxes

Knowing current tax laws can help an investor reduce the taxes and increase the amount of after-tax dollars available for investing.

Basic Sources of Taxation-There are two main types of taxes to know about which are those levied by the federal government, and those levied by state and local governments. The federal income tax is the main form of personal taxation, while state and local taxes can vary from area to area. In addition to the income taxes, the state and local governments also receive revenue from sales and property taxes. These income taxes have the greatest impact on security investments, which the returns are in the form of dividends, interest, and increases in value. Property taxes can also have a significant impact on real estate and other forms of property investment.

Types of Income-Income for individuals can be classified into three basic categories:

1. Active Income-This can be made up of wages, salaries, bonuses, tips, pension, and alimony. It is made up of income earned on the job as well as through other forms of noninvestment income.

2. Portfolio Income-This income is from earnings produced from various investments which could be made up of savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, and futures, and consists of interest, dividends, and capital gains.

3. Passive Income-Income gained through real estate, limited partnerships, and other forms of tax-advantaged investments.

Investments and Taxes-Taking into tax laws is an important part of the investment process. Tax planning involves examining both current and projected earnings, and developing strategies to help defer and minimize the level of taxes. Planning for these taxes will help assist investment activities over time so that an investor can achieve maximum after-tax returns.

Tax-Advantaged Retirement Vehicles-Over the years the federal government has established several types of retirement vehicles. Employer-sponsored plans can include 401(k) plans, savings plans, and profit-sharing plans. These plans are usually voluntary and allow employees to increase the amount of money for retirement and tax advantage of tax-deferral benefits. Individuals can also setup tax-sheltered retirement programs like Keogh plans and SEP-IRAs for the self-employed. IRAs and Roth IRAs can be setup by almost anyone, subject to certain qualifications. These plans generally allow people to defer taxes on both the contributions and earnings until retirement.

Investing Over the Life Cycle

As investors age, their investment strategies tend to change as well. They tend to be more aggressive when they’re young and transition to more conservative investments as they grow older. Younger investors usually go for growth-oriented investments that focus on capital gains as opposed to current income. This is because they don’t usually have much for investable funds, so capital gains are often viewed as the quickest way to build up capital. These investments are usually through high-risk common stocks, options, and futures.

As the investors become more middle-aged, other things like educational expenses and retirement become more important. As this happens, the typical investor moves towards more higher quality securities which are low-risk growth and income stocks, high-grade bonds, preferred stocks, and mutual funds.

As the investors get closer to retirement, their focus is usually on the preservation of capital and income. Their investment portfolio is now usually very conservative at this point. It would typically consist of low-risk income stocks and mutual funds, high-yield government bonds, quality corporate bonds, CDs, and other short-term investment vehicles.

Investing In Different Economic Conditions

Even though the government has different tools or strategies for moderating economic swings, investors will still endure numerous changes in the economy while investing. An investment program must allow the investor to recognize and react to changing conditions in the economy. It is important to know where to put your money and when to make your moves.

Knowing where to put your money is the easiest part to deal with. This involves matching the risk and return objectives of an investor’s plan with the investment vehicles. For example, if there is an experienced investor that can tolerate more risk, then speculative stocks may be right for them. A novice investor that wants a decent return on their capital may decide to invest in a growth-oriented mutual fund. Although stocks and growth funds may do well in an expanding economy, they can turn out to be failures at other times. Because of this, it is important to know when to make your moves.

Knowing when to invest is difficult because it deals with market timing. Even most professional money managers, economists, and investors can’t consistently predict the market and economic movements. It’s easier to understand the current state of the market or economy. That is, knowing whether the market/economy is expanding or declining is easier to understand than trying to predict upcoming changes.

The market or economy can have three different conditions: (1) recovery or expansion, (2) decline or recession, (3) a change in the general direction of its movement. It’s fairly easy to observe when the economy is in a state of expansion or recession. The difficult part is knowing whether the existing state of the economy will continue on the course it’s on, or change direction. How an investor responds to these market conditions will depend on the types of investment vehicles they hold. No matter what the state of the economy is, an investor’s willingness to enter the capital market depends on a basic trust in fair and accurate financial reporting.

Stocks and the Business Cycle

Conditions in the economy are highly influential on common stocks and other equity-related securities. Economic conditions is also referred to as the business cycle. The business cycle mirrors the current status of a variety of economic variables which includes GDP, industrial production, personal disposable income, the unemployment rate, and more.

An expanding business cycle will be reflected in a strong economy. When business is thriving and profits are up, stock prices react by increasing in value and returns. Speculative and growth-oriented stocks tend to do especially well in strong markets. On the flip side, when economic activity is diminishing, the values and returns on common stocks tend to follow the same pattern.

Bonds and Interest Rates

Bonds and other forms of fixed-income securities are highly sensitive to movements in interest rates. The single most important variable that determines bond price behavior and returns is the interest rate. Bond prices and interest rates move in opposite directions. Lower interest rates are favorable for bonds for an investor. However, high interest rates increase the attractiveness of new bonds because they must offer high returns to attract investors.

Pit Bikes – How to Decide Which One to Buy

A pit bike differs from the dirt bikes and the mini motos in the size of their engines and the power packed in their engines. A pit bike usually has a larger engine and comes fitted with a manual gearbox and gears whereas minimotos come packed with automatic   transmission  and a centrifugal clutch.

The average maximum speed for most of the Pit bikes available readily in the market is anywhere between 40-50mph, but if you add a few accessories to your bike, you can surely get a lot more fire and power from your engine.

It is because of these performance enhancing parts, which are now becoming readily available and the otherwise constant improvement in the performance of the bikes that people have started taking a lot more interest in these bikes. It has also resulted in the setting up of various Pit Bike races and shows on international level. The popularity of this bike is going the dirt bike way. Leagues and international venues are being setup in a fashion similar to the way in which dirt biking was promoted.

Dirt bikes and dirt biking became a fashion and a sport for the adventure lovers in the 90s. There appeared a lot of leagues and similarly sponsors around that time. Dirtbiking stars suddenly became famous overnight and names like Destry Abbot, Jeremy McGrath, Derek Costella and Ryan Ambrigo became idols of dirtbiking enthusiasts.

These pro dirtbikers are a regular appearance at the famous races and shows at Las Vegas each year. These people are now also promoting pit bikes and have been spotted at various pit biking events.

Pit bikes of late have found a lot of manufacturers, both those manufacturing out of their own garage and the large companies involved in the manufacturing of other bikes as well.

Pit bikes are available in the market upwards of $500 and the price increases with the engine power, and the make. For a Pit biking enthusiast a good choice would be MonsterMoto’s 125CC bike. This bike has a 4 stroke air cooled engine and the maximum power that it can generate is roughly 9HP @ 8500 rpm. The compression ratio is about 9.6:1.

This is a good value buy because the engine is made by a company that also supplies engines to Honda, which manufactures sports bikes for events like Moto Grand Prix (Moto GP)

You can also customize your Pit bike like people do to their dirt bikes. While you can add a few parts to enhance the look of your bike, you can add a few to increase the bike’s performance. You can buy a coloured muffler to enhance you bike’s look for about $90 and you can also buy a BBR style exhaust, a stainless steel exhaust for increasing the performance of the bike.

You can similarly buy different fuel systems, carburetors etc. to improve the efficiency of the bike and also buy various accessories like alloy wheels to enhance the bikes looks.

Truly speaking, Dirt bikes and pit bikes are here to stay and will continue to rush adrenaline through the blood of all those who love adventure sitting on two wheels.

Online Agriculture Career Preparation

Becoming a part of the agriculture industry is a process that requires students to complete schooling and meet specified qualifications. Students can enter a degree program online where they learn all of the integral parts of the field. Many colleges provide online education to help students prepare for a career.

The field breaks down essential key areas that need to be learned in connection with business principles. Students can prepare for a career by completing key steps.

Key Step One: Research the Career Possibilities

Students can enter many careers in agriculture. Before enrolling in an online program it’s recommended that students consider what area of agriculture they would like to work in, as this decision often dictates what educational level and concentration to pursue. Online information can be found on the various careers to help students pin point their preferred area of interest. Greenhouse manager, plant and soil technician, ranch manager, soil composition specialist, policymaker, and educator are a couple of career options students can pursue.

Each field has students conducting different tasks and overseeing multiple aspects of their area. For example, a greenhouse manager will oversee the support structures and operation of several greenhouses. This includes being responsible for the growing of plants and where they are sold, whether it’s locally or nationally. Another possibility is becoming a soil scientist. Professionals examine the chemical, physical, biological, and mineral makeup of soil in direct relation to plant and crop growth. Students can enter these careers after first completing education.

Key Step Two: Complete Education

Once students know which area of the industry is for them, they will be able to complete the correct level of education. Online accredited schools and colleges offer students programs from the associate’s to master’s degree level. Each level presents specific career related knowledge that allows students to step into the industry with confidence. Each educational program offers students the same general coursework. Specific courses will be taken according to the specialization that students have chosen. General courses may include:

  • Soil Fertility
  • Agribusiness Management
  • Horticulture
  • Livestock Science

Students can expect to study biology, the science of soil, plant cultivation, and how to operate farming equipment. Skills are adapted through online coursework that gives lessons through video and audio demonstrations.

Completing a degree program is the best way to enter the field. Students can enter a career in approximately two years when they earn their associate’s degree. Further study at the bachelor’s level, which is often required, takes four years. Students that pursue a master’s degree can expect to earn advanced training in a two-year program.

Begin preparing for a career in agriculture by learning about the career possibilities. Online education is a great way to learn and students can begin training by enrolling in an accredited program. Full accreditation is given to agriculture schools and colleges that offer the best quality education by agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges ( http://www.accsc.org/ ).

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

Passive Investment Income

What are some ways a person can generate passive investment income? There are a number of ideas about it. Everyone has his own ideas about which one can be a passive investment income. We should have our own choice of investment. The wealthy, the marginalized, and the middle class people differ in their own preferences about investing their money. Now, let’s compare ways and opportunities according to some considerations such as safety, profitability, and also liquidity.

Safety means that your investment and the income are stable. The money that you invest could be prone to the changing market condition, economic slowdown, and social unrest. The point is that your passive investment income should always be there. In that case, it is safe to invest.

On the other hand, profitability is what we usually consider when we invest. We are supposed to believe that what is profitable is ideal. That’s right. But is it risky? Is my money stuck? Obviously, everyone would go for whatever gives them profit. Whenever we consider gains, the highest amount is always the best passive investment income. What we should consider here should not have been about the top gainers only. It’s should also be the safer ones.

Another significant factor that must be considered is liquidity. Let us suppose that we earn very attractively from our safe investment. What does that mean to us anyway? When you are ready to use your fund because you really need it and that’s the reason why you invested, is it possible to convert it to cash now? If there is no liquidity, our passive investment income is only an imagination. You would become wealthy only in your dreams. Liquidity is not only about the comfort of making a withdrawal. It is also about how smooth it is to invest.

Now, here are three kinds of investment we may consider whether which passive investment income is better for us. So, let’s talk about three kinds of portfolios such as business, stocks, and real estate.

Business is a personal activity that deals with economic factors that determines future gains. It is the chemistry of work and investment. This means that a businessman does not only wait for passive income, he should also work for it. Therefore, it is an active income and at the same time passive.

In the aspect of safety, business is not that safe. It is exposed to economic cycle. Businesses are under the supply and demand law. If the demand for their goods has been increasing, the price will also increase, and so will the supply. As time goes by, the demand will influence the supply to increase more. So if the supply is much greater, it will then influence the price to decrease. Consequently, businesses are getting more unstable and their future is turning gray. But, businesses may also get more resilient. As this type of investment is a little active, the active control of a businessman can manage a worse situation. Therefore, these two characters of investment regulate the cycle. Because of this, business becomes good. It is definitely a good example of passive investment income when it comes to safety.

In stock market, it’s the other way around. Safety is a very controversial issue here. Obviously, the risk involved here is very high. But the potential return is high, too. Passive investment income is more common in stock trading. Therefore, your income here is not the product of your active participation in the company. It is the product of your decision.

In the area of real estate, the lesser amount you invest, the safer it is. The bigger the investment you have, the riskier it becomes. But land alone is considerably not risky. The reason why real estate becomes a little risky is because the cost of structural materials is getting higher. Structural materials are also subject to the law of supply and demand. So, if we only rely on land for passive investment income by renting it out, our passive income will not be affected by any price fluctuation. Aside from that, structures depreciate over a period of time. Therefore, investing in real estate can be risky or safe depending on the kind.

In terms of profit, it is more attractive in business. In some businesses, you have to spend time before you earn regularly. Usually, the profit is negative especially if they are just beginning to operate. They should promote their brands and strengthen themselves in the market. When the consumers buy their goods, passive investment income begins. On the other hand, other businesses are doing well in the beginning of the operation. During the first stage, their sales shoot up. Subsequently, they grow very early. As time goes by, consumers get sick and tired of their goods. Consequently, these businesses reduce their passive income. Nevertheless, what is nice about business is the resilience to catch up with the competition. In business, the consistency of income is stable. One more advantage in business regarding this is the petty cash. Passive investment income in business need not come after a fixed cycle like that in stocks. There is always readily available petty cash.

On one hand, profit potential in stock investing is definitely high. As the character of stocks is risky, risk appetite causes the value of stocks to go up quickly. On the other hand, risk aversion and profit taking in the intraday trading can cause the value of stocks to go down quickly, too. Risk management in the stock market depends on the traders. Speculators enjoy their passive investment income from the price volatility while non-aggressive traders and investors get their passive investment income from dividends. Therefore, we can’t rule out the risk nature of stocks. When we gauge the balance between the energy we exert and the profit we earn, investing in stocks could be the most attractive one. We must not forget that passive investment income is an income that we could get without extra effort. If stock market really offers this potential, it must be a better option for passive investment income.

In real estate, how can we have a passive investment income? There is no doubt that one may enjoy his passive investment income in real estate without extra effort. The point is whether or not the ratio of profit is balanced with the investment. Surely, we can gain in real estate primarily because the usual investment is big as well. But always remember that you should pay the capital gains tax annually. This might explain why landlords do not solely rely on renting out their lots. Hence, land is usually developed to optimize the gains. Regarding the actual amount of gains, real estate could guarantee a better passive investment income. Therefore, we should really consider the ROI.

In terms of liquidity, it is somewhat less in business. Of course, liquidity still exists. However, much time is spent to put up a business, to start gaining, and even the time it takes to stop operating. Although the period of time executing all these can be determined according to a business plan, the process is still slower depending on the kind of business. Retail businesses are quite liquid whereas manufacturing industries are not.

Among the common types of investments known to many, investment in stocks is the most liquid one. You can open and close an investment account at your convenience. Moreover, you may select any available stock you wish to invest in. If you wish to have exposure in stock market, to take profit, or to pull out your investment, it won’t take that long. You may do so at any given time wherever you may be.

On the contrary, liquidity is a big problem in real estate. In business, there are still ways to determine it, but hardly in real estate. Usually, it is like a game of chance to sell even a small house and lot. Thus, investing in real estate, earning passive income, and even pulling out your investment will never occur overnight. It won’t matter if it doesn’t affect productivity. For instance, you have found a better opportunity that needs quick decision. Then, you think it best to change your existing investment into such a new one. Perhaps, before you are able to pull out your investment from real estate, your commitment to others will have already been canceled. In similar case, you might get stuck.

These are some ways a person can generate passive investment income. Whether you wish to invest in stocks, real estate, or business, you can always find an opportunity to generate passive investment income.

Choosing the Right Dental Assistant School

Which School Should You Enroll Yourself?

The dental assistant school you choose to enroll in is one necessary factor in your success as an assistant. You must choose among these schools the one approved and accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA). Certification for dental assistant is only granted by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) to those who graduated from accredited schools. Such certification is very important as some states require license of assistants in allowing them to work in the field. Most of the employers also have higher regards on those who graduated from accredited programs because they are assured that the assistants they hire would be competent enough and skillful.

Enrollment Prerequisites

Just like other degree programs or courses, a high school diploma or an equivalent is usually required in enrolling to school. Some schools aside from the high school diploma or its equivalent, also requires some subjects or courses in science (biology and chemistry in particular), health, computer and office or management.

Classes and Programs

There are programs available online. However, you must make it sure that its mother school is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the ADA. Aside from the accreditation you must also check if there is a balance between lecture classes and laboratory or hands-on trainings. Practical experiences must always be included in the program. Usually, the assistant programs consist classes on dental anatomy and basic anatomy, dental procedures and theory, nutrition and preventive dentistry, disease   transmission  and pathology, pharmacology and radiology, names of instruments and use of equipment, communication and patient interaction, medical office administration and record keeping.

Evaluating School for Assistants

The student aspiring to be an assistant must consider if the school provides the appropriate training for the different roles of an assistant. The program of the school must provide comprehensive trainings regarding the important roles of a dental assistant. Aside from the trainings the students must also give proper education and preparation for the students for the Dental Assisting National Board’s CDA examination. Reviews must be conducted by the school among their students. Also, the school’s location is very important to consider. The student must have initially planned which state he or she would like to work in so that the standards of the school meet the state’s standards for dental assistants allowed to work in the field. The student-teacher ratio must also be considered. Proper supervisions must be given to each student not just during laboratory or practical experiences but also during the classes on theories. Furthermore, check whether financial aids are available such as student loans, scholarships and grants. The tuition fees for dental courses in different schools are to be noted. Check also the success of the graduates of the school. Take note of how many were granted the certification of being an assistant and how many among those who went into internships got jobs compared to the number of graduates. The percentage has to be relatively high to be able to say that the said dental assistant school will provide you the proper training and lead you to excellence and success in the field.

Starting Out in the Bu$ine$$ of Agriculture

There are five things to seriously consider when starting up a farm, no matter if you are pursuing an interest in crop farming, raising livestock like cattle or sheep, for instance, or growing fruit:

1) There’s tough, hard work involved

If you want to farm, it’s tough, hard work with little satisfaction in the end. It’s no wonder 90% or more of the young people that come off of farms don’t want to go back to it. No money in it, comprised mostly of blood, sweat and tears, with a little reward in the end. No benefits, no health coverage, no labour unions to say when you should start your day, have your lunch break and end it. That’s all for you to decide. And your hours in your day depend on the weather and how many things you have to have done in a day.

2) Start small (a must!!)

Never go off the deep end if you don’t know how to swim. You could drown in bankruptcy or personal injury if you have no idea what you are getting into. The thing that I have learned over the years and from talking to other veteran farmers is to start small. Especially if you have no prior experience. Unlike those farmer’s sons and daughters that want to continue to farm by taking over their parent’s operation and can go into or continue, a newbie needs to learn first either by working on an existing farm that has been operating for a number of years, or get a mentor, or both.

For example, if I want to get into cow-calf business, I have to do my research and asking questions first before I take the plunge and purchase some cows with calves. I do have previous farming experience which helps significantly, as well as capital to keep the newly founded herd on, so that is not as much of a problem as other folks do who are moving from the big city to the wide countryside.

3) Do your research: Popularity and Fabs aren’t Everything

Don’t give in easily to the fabs and the popular equipment or livestock out there. Often time those popular type of livestock or equipment will not work out for you and your plan of operation. For example, the Angus breed. Angus cattle are not really known for their docility, just the fact that they produce darn good beef off their carcass and are the most popular breed observed in the United States and Canada to date. Yes they are good for range cattle, yes they are good mothers, yes they have great calving ease (depending on selection), yes the A.A.A (American Angus Association) have a great marketing initiative to make them the highest selling breed on the market in competition with the other coloured breeds. But, is that what you want? Not too long ago a genetic disorder has cropped up in the Angus breed called Curly Calf Syndrome, a disorder that results in dead calves at birth from suspected linebreeding of cattle from similar lineages–which is often the case when you have millions of Angus cattle across the continent. Another concern is that the Angus breed is more for those who can handle potentially aggressive mothers and somewhat-nutty bulls, among other things. I could go on.

Another example is rookie producer that has a small farm of 80 acres or less decides on going all out and purchasing large, brand-new machinery that is only suitable for farms with huge tracts of field-land to cover. A farm of only 80 acres maybe only devote half the acreage to the production of barley or corn; the other half would more likely go into living space, garden, and livestock areas. That’s only 40 acres of crop sown, and if that newbie goes out and spends all that money on that kind of machinery that is only going to be used once or twice a year, at the very least, he shouldn’t even be farming: he should be owning an equipment dealership instead. It sounds harsh, sure, but look at it this way: that machinery is probably worth more than the farm is. Depretiation, as well as the long run costs of maintaining this new-fangled equipment just isn’t necessary on a small farm. Either hiring custom outfits to till, sow, spray and harvest the crop for you or purchasing older, and much cheaper machinery from an auction is the best thing to go for. Personally, I’d have it custom done. Or convert it into hay or pasture…

4) Plan, plan, plan!

Planning is a huge deal in today’s world when one is starting a farm right from scratch. A farm is a business, no matter if it involves selling grain and livestock, or fruits and vegetables. A business plan, be it complex or simple, is the best thing to develop and have on hand when planning and implementing those plans to the farm. It also gives the bank an idea of what you want to do if you wish to take out a loan. Back in the old days, you could start farming without needing to form a plan, everything was simple and plain. Now, you have tons of options to choose from and just as much ways to sell your end product. Plan what to do and how to do it: it’s the key to success.

5) Location, location, location.

The most important factor that determines what kind and what size of farm to start up are the varied choices to consider in location, geography and climate. All of these have an influence in your choice to farm in that area and what crops and livestock are best to raise or grow. In the case of livestock, there are at least four factors to contend with that are totally out of your control when raising the critters: topography, climate, vegetation, and soil.

Case in point, look at the differences between that found in Alberta, Canada and in Florida, USA. Alberta has quite the variation in topography, from the rugged Rocky Mountains to the west, to prairie that stretches from the southern border all the way up to Lloydminster and west to the foothills, as well as a significant patch up in Grande Prairie and Peace River areas. We also have boreal forest that extends from south of Athabasca all the way to the northern border and beyond. Florida doesn’t have that much of variation in topography: grasslands and swamps as well as the ocean that surrounds much of its southern, western and eastern borders (note: there are also many swamps found up here in Alta, many of which have no bottom: those are considered “muskeg” or “bog”). Alberta has a drier climate that varies in rainfall: the prairies get less rainfall than the boreal forest. Florida is quite a moist area all around because of the influence of the ocean and its currents. Alberta has four defined seasons, one of which is more wickeder than the other three. Florida’s four seasons are very much less defined, with snow being rare around there.

Alberta has a very wide range of soil type, from rich, organic soil created from the grasses of the prairie, to acidic, sandy soil derived from the spruce and pine of the boreal forest. New soil is also found in various areas; clays are also found to the north, south of the boreal. Florida’s soil (forgive me if I get this wrong) ranges from loamy to sandy with not much between, depending on the topography.

Vegetation comes in wide varieties as well in Alberta, thanks to human intervention. We are able to grow C4 grasses (annuals like corn; other annuals that are not C4’s are most cereal crops like wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale) in the spring and summer months, only to have them die when the cold snows hit. Most of the native vegetation is adapted to withstand cold winters to regrow in the summer, therefore 98% of the grasses found in pasture and hayland are C3 grasses, grasses that start to grow in early April and last until June or July, already completing their life-cycle long before winter arrives. The trees and shrubs too are adapted to a colder, drier climate: our prime example are evergreens. Florida does not have to worry about extreme cold temperatures, thus the grasses that grow there are more commonly C4 grasses, those grasses that will grow later in the spring/summer and complete their life-cycle come fall. C3 grasses are also found there, but grow only during the “winter” months. The trees and shrubs there as well as adapted to a warm, humid climate and thrive as such. Similar differences are found in forbs grown in Alberta and Florida.

When you get these different climates even with cropping systems, this can limit you to what type of crop plants you can/should plant. Some areas of the USA and Canada can be too cold for one crop and too warm for another, or vice versa. Soil type is also very important, as well as topography. You can’t grow a field of wheat in the chaparral desert of Arizona, even if you tried! The mountainous terrain of the Cumberland hills in the Apalachain mountains, for instance, is not a wise place to plant corn. So topography, climate and soil type is critical in determining where to farm, how to farm and what to farm.

6) When you get down to it, it’s all up to you in the end.

There are more variables, such as personal choices and goals, that should also be taken into account when wanting to establish a farm, and this can be considered a sixth factor in choosing where/how to farm. Are you able to contend with Alberta’s cold winters, where the snow gets deep and feeding livestock can sometimes be a challenge, but the summers are warm however short, with beautiful fall days and summer storms to live with? Or would you rather like a warm humid climate where you are able to graze 365 days a year with hurricanes and swarms of bugs (i.e. chiggers, flies, mosquitoes) to contend with? And do you prefer to tinker with machinery and watch your crop grow, or would you rather be happy with looking after livestock, with fixing fence, looking after sick animals, planning pasture rotations, feed diets, breeding and birthing schedules, etc? Perhaps you may want to do both. And perhaps you may only want to have a few acres as a hobby farmer instead of going whole-hog and have a farm that is at least 100 acres in size?

It’s all up to you.