Dear World,In just over six months, Ebola has managed to bring my country to a standstill. We have lost over 2,000 Liberians. Some are children struck down in the prime of their youth. Some were fathers, mothers, brothers or best friends. Many were brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments. There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars. In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago. It destroyed our public infrastructure, crushed our economy and led to an exodus of educated professionals. A country that had some 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the war was dependent by its end on barely three dozen. In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realized there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright. Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work. Our economy was set to be larger and stronger this year, offering more jobs to Liberians and raising living standards. Ebola is not just a health crisis – across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed. The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge. This would have been the case whether the confrontation was with Ebola, another infectious disease, or a natural disaster. But one thing is clear. This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world. The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away. This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise. I have every faith in our resilience as Liberians, and our capacity as global citizens, to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. History has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour, humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need. From governments to international organisations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence. The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from experiencing another national tragedy. The words of Henrik Ibsen have never been truer: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.”Yours sincerely,Ellen Johnson SirleafShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest CSX recently announced that there will be new rates for grain shippers that will have an impact on Ohio grain producers, at least in the short term. The new rates could significantly impact elevator and terminal grain pricing, as well as grain logistics, markets and movements.“This is a big deal for the grain industry that we need to be watching,” said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA). “It is something that could have a significant impact on Ohio’s grain producers. This could be an issue affecting the basis for farmers, especially in these times of depressed commodity prices.”States including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan have increased CSX rates that are scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1. The inconsistent nature of the rates is a concern.“The new rate structure picks ‘winners and losers,’ meaning that some existing grain handlers are disadvantaged more than others,” Henney said. “The new rates reportedly are disproportionate in how they impact similar operations, causing uncertainty and confusion.”Grain elevators are already accepting grain bids for this fall when the rate increases are planned and there are many questions and concerns about the situation. Legacy Farmers Cooperative in Northwest Ohio is trying to make decisions for this fall that minimize the impact to the cooperative and the producers it serves based upon the confusing CSX rate changes they face.“It looks like we will most likely see a shift of where grain is being shipped, but a lot of the details are yet to be determined. The market is still analyzing how this affects all sides of our business,” said Mitch Welty, grain manager for Legacy Farmers Cooperative. “CSX has just handed us a piece of a puzzle that will potentially shift the market. This has come as a surprise to the shippers and end users, especially those that have invested in assets to improve their ability to supply the market. The market needs time to sort it out, then we will see how it affects things on down the chain.”Until then, OABA is closely monitoring the situation.“OABA is actively engaged with our member companies and state/national partners on this issue,” Henney said. “We are working with our partners to develop a strategy to engage the Surface Transportation Board.”Henney said that the new CSX rates will likely have the following impacts on Ohio agriculture:Reportedly, these increases will impose additional shipping costs ranging from 10 to 20 cents per bushel of grain hauled by CSX, which translates to anywhere between a 35% to 380% increase in transportation costs.The increase in transportation costs may be passed down to farmers, likely through reduced local basis.Many grain handlers impacted negatively by these new rates have invested heavily — millions of dollars — to improve their own rail loading operations, often with the encouragement, if not insistence of CSX, are now put at an economic disadvantage compared to those using other rail lines without rate increases.The increased rates on the CSX likely will alter and disrupt customary “grain flows,” with consequences on agribusinesses, farmers and customers.Additionally, customers of Ohio-produced grain may be forced to look elsewhere for grain due to higher costs. This could mean an increase in imports of grain from South America for major feeders located near ports, which would hurt Ohio companies, producers and others.The potential of lower volumes on rail puts additional pressure on the viability of short line railroads, which largely rely on agricultural shipments for their livelihood. This comes at a difficult time for short line operators, who are looking for opportunities to improve deteriorating infrastructure. Lower volume could mean decreased revenue and ultimately even more deterioration of the infrastructure, if not the abandonment of some lines.While a complete shift to trucking is not viable, these rate increases could put dramatically more trucks on the roads to move grain from traditional rail houses to more competitive rail houses.