ASFMRA Weekly News January 17, 2017

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Many Factors to Affect Land Values in 2017

Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values.

Randy Dickhut, AFM, senior vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National Company, said in the past three years, agricultural landowners in many regions across the country have seen a decline in profits, which also pushed land values lower.

“This winter, questions abound as to the direction of commodity prices, interest rates, inflation, challenges in the world economy, weather and U.S. tax law,” Dickhut said. “Buyers of ag land are asking if it is an opportune time to make a purchase of a farm or ranch, while sellers are asking if the market dynamics are indicating that it is good time to sell land. Depending on location, quality of land and other factors, our agents report seeing regions and local areas where land prices are stable to somewhat strengthening post-2016 harvest. Then there are other areas where land values have continued to decline.” Learn more.

Crunch Farmland Values by Computer

Will online farm real estate sites make appraisers as obsolete as travel agents? Not yet, but the online robots are gaining ground. They might even make human appraisers, lenders, renters and potential land buyers work faster and smarter.

That’s how Bruce Sherrick, director of the Center for Farmland Research at the University of Illinois, grades new services that promise to democratize farmland values and trends. He considers these Big Data tools “disruptors,” much like sites like Travelocity and Expedia revolutionized the travel industry 20 years ago. Full article.

Appraisal Subcommittee Proposes Revised Policy Statements for State Appraiser Regulatory Program Guidance

On January 10, the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) published in the Federal Register revised Policy Statements for public comment prior to their adoption. The Policy Statements are guidance designed to help the 50 states and five territories who are subject to appraiser regulatory program review by the ASC comply with the various federal laws and regulations that govern these programs. The Policy Statements address appraiser certification and enforcement, AMC licensure and enforcement, and any interim sanctions the ASC may impose on a state it finds to be in non-compliance with federal requirements. Of note in the proposal is that it does not appear to address or answer the question of what is and is not considered a “federally related transaction” for purposes of Title XI of FIRREA, as amended. Review the amendment.

Big Farm-Related Tax Changes Proposed by Republicans, Trump

From estate taxes to capital gains and cost recovery, House Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump are floating proposals to make significant changes to tax provisions important to farmers and ranchers.

During the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention, tax experts discussed the impact of potential tax changes for those involved in agriculture, according to a AFBF press release.

Both House Republicans and the president-elect have proposed eliminating estate taxes. However, while the House Republicans haven’t said anything about stepped-up basis—an essential provision for farmers and ranchers—Trump would do away with stepped-up basis for estates over $10 million. Trump would also subject transfers at death to the capital gains tax, with protections for small businesses.

“We’re quick to say, ‘Repeal the estate tax.’ But if they impose the capital gains tax where the estate tax would be, then you’ve really just replaced one tax with another. It’s still a transfer tax,” said Brennis Craddock, CPA, chief operating officer of Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Farmers Service Inc. Craddock was joined on the panel by Pat Wolff, AFBF senior director of congressional relations. Read more.

Bayer, Monsanto CEOs Meet With Trump, Argue Merger Would Create U.S. Jobs

The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto (MON), Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, are in New York pressing their case with President-elect Donald Trump to approve the massive merger between the two entities and to tout the creation of U.S. jobs if the deal goes through, people with direct knowledge of the matter tell the FOX Business Network.

The meeting between the two CEOs and Trump at his transition headquarters in midtown Manhattan took place during a busy day for the President-elect. Earlier he held his first press conference since winning the 2016 election and answered thorny questions about everything from a Russian hacking scandal to plans to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Watch the video.

Exchange Rates Helping Keep Lid on U.S. Crop Prices

Pat Westhoff says he could have used a lot of complicated charts to demonstrate the impact of the stronger U.S. dollar on U.S. grain exports. Instead, he chose just one – the change in the value of the Mexican peso relative to the dollar since the November elections.

“On election day (Nov. 8) the price of corn on the March futures contract was $3.63 per bushel,” says Dr. Westhoff, the director of the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. “As of Thursday (Jan. 5), the price was $3.61 so it hardly changed at all. “Let’s convert that same price to Mexican pesos, taking the exchange rate on Nov. 8 and the exchange rate today,” he said. “In Mexican peso terms, the equivalent of the March futures contract was 66.5 pesos per bushel on Nov. 8, and it was 77.4 on Thursday (Jan. 5) because the Mexican peso weakened that much against the dollar in that short period of time.” Read more.

Dow-DuPont EU Merger Review ‘Still Very Open,’ Vestager Says

Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face a “still very open” outcome from a European Union antitrust review of their $60 billion merger, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said as the companies met with regulators to defend the deal.

Regulators are concerned that the agrochemical industry is already “a very concentrated sector” and that farmers need to have a choice of seeds and crop-protection products, Vestager told Bloomberg TV in an interview Monday. The EU is also examining China National Chemical Corp.’s bid for Syngenta AG, which Vestager said was a “very different deal” that also showed the importance of research to develop new products.

“Farmers need innovation as well in these products and that would be something that we will be discussing with the companies moving forward,” Vestager said. Watch the video.

ChemChina, Syngenta Submit Minor Concessions to EU Watchdog

China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) [CNNCC.UL] and Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta AG (SYNN.S) have proposed minor concessions to the EU’s competition watchdog to address concerns over their $43 billion merger plan, sources told Reuters.

One person close to the deal said it was unlikely ChemChina would have to sell its Adama Agricultural Solutions Ltd (ADAM.N) unit. Discussions were focusing on remedying concerns with respect to specific products, some of which Adama may own.

This person said the overall divestments would be less than $500 million.

“It’s about individual products where competition is scarce,” this person said, adding that some of these products were only worth tens of millions of dollars.

“My understanding is that [divestments] are very minor,” another source close to the deal said.

The European Commission’s website showed “commitments” submitted on Jan. 9, which typically means the parties have proposed remedies such as asset divestment or specific product pricing. It did not elaborate on the nature of the commitments. Full article.

U.S.-Cuba Agricultural Trade Poised for Growth

Experts at a workshop at the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention & IDEAg trade show shared with attendees what normalized trade relations with Cuba could mean for American farmers and ranchers’ bottom lines.

Dr. Steven Zahniser, an economist at the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service, set the stage by reviewing what trade has looked like in the past with Cuba, to where we are today, and what the future might bring. Zahniser said growth in U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba remains limited, with credit restrictions putting our products at a disadvantage. Meanwhile other countries have stepped in and filled the gap, leaving the U.S. with a smaller market share.

“Normalized trade with Cuba could bring an increase of $1 billion per year in agriculture exports, compared with the estimated $195 million in sales of agriculture products from the U.S. to Cuba in 2016,” said Zahniser. He and other economists look to U.S. trade with the Dominican Republic as a model for what to anticipate with Cuba. Although the Dominican Republic is part of a larger free trade agreement, Zahniser called this a solid comparison in both for market size and purchasing power. Read more.

Farmers Seeking Real Safety Net in Next Farm Bill

Sen. Charles Grassley says his top priority when Congress begins writing a new farm bill will be to preserve the crop insurance program because “there is no safety net more valuable to farmers and taxpayers.”

So once again the Iowa Republican and farmers, many from the South, could be on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to drafting legislation that will set the course of farm programs for the next five years.

Grassley has been the leading proponent of stricter limits on farm program payment through the years. Last April, he introduced the Farm Payment Loophole Elimination Act to try to limit the number of “non-farming managers” USDA allowed in the new payment rules it released under the 2014 farm bill.

(The legislation, which would have limited the number to one, has led to comments such as that by one farm bill expert who said he is convinced Sen. Grassley “is determined to destroy commercial agriculture in the United States.” Full disclosure: Grassley was my senator when I lived in Iowa and is a nice man. But for someone who claims to be the only true farmer in the Senate he seems to have little understanding of the realities of farming today.) Learn more.

North Coast Vineyards See More Drone Use as Agriculture Market Soars

A Napa Valley company that has been taking aerial imaging of vineyards to new technological heights for a decade and a half has formed a strategic partnership with grapegrower-oriented startup makers and operators of unmanned aerial vehicles, often called drones.

It’s the second significant foray in recent months that brings the fast-growing field of agricultural drones to the North Coast.

The deal pairs image processing by Angwin-based Scientific Aerial Imaging Inc., better known as VineView (vineview.com), with drones built by Halifax, Nova Scotia-based SkySquirrel Technologies (skysquirrel.ca) then marketed and flown by Napa Valley’s Hawk Aerial (hawkaerial.com). Hawk Aerial has plans for piloting drones for vineyard operators or selling drones that can be piloted largely autonomously by designating a flight path on a virtual map of the vineyard.

“We think that is the most exciting part, that vineyard operators can fly as often as they want and send images to VineView for processing,” said Bryan Soderblom, CFI, CFII, MEI, VineView’s lead pilot and marketing director. View the images.

Soybean Prices to Come Under Pressure in 2017: Braun

In 2016 soybean prices had their best year since 2012. But a repeat performance for the oilseed in 2017 may prove difficult thanks to challenges on both the supply and demand fronts.

Front-month Chicago soybean futures finished last year up 14 percent from where they began the year, peaking at 35 percent in June. The most active March 2017 contract is up nearly 18 percent over where last year’s contract sat a year ago today.

Speculators opened 2017 with a net long position of 94,247 contracts in CBOT soybeans futures and options – very similar to where both 2013 and 2014 began, but considerably different from 2016.

Although this long position has decreased five weeks running, optimism could wane even further in the coming months, especially since the fundamentals are not exactly bullish.

Of the last five years, soybean prices performed most poorly in 2014, and there are many signs that suggest 2017 could follow in its footsteps and start heading south. Learn more.

Calling All Firms That Are Looking for Interns!

ASFMRA has the ability to post your internships on our website and include in Ag Student News. So, if you are looking to fill some internships over the summer, let us know and we will get those positions posted. We have over 100 student members and over 500 students that receive our monthly publication – the perfect audience to fill your need and provide a student with some great work experience! You can email internship and career opportunities to Jaleen Edwards and ASFMRA will post your position for free and make sure that it is featured in the appropriate e-newsletter.

Government Relations Chapter Representatives Needed

ASFMRA is seeking volunteers to hold the position as Chapter Representative on the Government Relations Committee. Are you interested in influencing Public Policy and understanding what is going on with the farm bill and appraiser regulation? The ASFMRA Government Relations Committee would like to invite you to a call with our national committee leaders and our consultants in DC to provide updates an items that could impact you at the National and the state level. Join us on January 20th at 8:00 am PDT / 9:00 am MDT / 10:00 am CDT / 11:00 am EDT. To join the call please use 1-800-582-3014 with participant code 348 174 69#.

Agenda:

  • WELCOME & PURPOSE FOR CALL – President Mike Krause, AFM
  • INTRODUCTIONS & AND ANY TOP OF MIND STATE ISSUES – Mike Krause, AFM
  • FARM BILL & OTHER ISSUES – Stephen Frerichs
  • MANAGEMENT WRAP UP – George Baird, AFM
  • POLICY & REGULATORY ISSUES – John Russell
  • APPRASIAL WRAP UP – Brian Gatzke, AFA
  • THANK YOU – Mike Krause, AFM

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