Legislative Action News, April 2, 2013

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ASFMRA Opposed Senate Budget Amendment
By Stephen Frerichs 

As the Senate was considering its budget last month, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers joined 39 other agricultural organizations in opposition to an amendment that had been filed by Senators Begich (D-AK) and Flake (R-AZ).  The amendment purportedly aimed to provide transparency for the crop insurance program, but given the authors of the amendment it was clear the intent was not transparency but rather an attempt to weaken the crop insurance program over time.  Ultimately, the amendment was not brought up for consideration by either Senator so no vote on it resulted.  Read a copy of the letter sent to Senate. 

Sequester Impacts at USDA
By Stephen Frerichs

USDA is slowing releasing information about how the across-the-board sequestration will impact on-going USDA programs.  USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is suspending a number of statistical surveys and reports for the remainder of the fiscal year due to reduced funding caused by sequestration. The following reports are suspended:

• All Catfish and Trout Reports including Catfish Feed Deliveries and Catfish Processing
• July Cattle Report
• Potato Stocks Reports
• All Non-Citrus Fruit, Nut and Vegetable Forecasts and Estimates
• June Rice Stocks Report
• All Hops and Hops Stocks Estimates
• Mink Report
• Milk Production Reports including Production, Disposition and Income
• June on- and off-farm stocks for Austrian Winter Peas, Chickpeas, Dry Peas and Lentils
• July acreage forecasts for Austrian Winter Peas, Dry Edible Peas and Lentils

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has suspended for 30 days starting March 1 payments for the 2011 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for both 2012 and 2013 crop years, and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC) for 2013.  Payments for these programs will resume in April.  Because these programs are subject to the across the board cuts, USDA has decided to reduce the 2013 direct payment, due in October 2013, by 8.5% instead of the 5.2% required by the Sequester. The larger direct payment cuts will void the across-the-board cut in the SURE, NAP and MILC programs. Otherwise some 350,000 farmers would have been required to repay small portions of payments under the SURE, NAP and MILC programs. Instead USDA will handle those repayments by reducing the direct payments and avoid administrative collection costs that it would otherwise incur.

Impact of sequester on farm payments
From Agri-Pulse

Meat inspectors have not been taken off the job but farm programs have been affected as noted by National Farmers Union President, Roger Johnson talks about how sequestration has affected farm payments including dairy, MLIC, and others.

Listen to the audio: http://www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/audio03252013.mp3

President to Release Budget April 10
By Stephen Frerichs

President Obama will release his 2014 budget on April 10, principal deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week. The president’s budget is formally due on the first Monday in February, but the White House has said that its two-month delay was in part due to the administration’s focus on sequestration.  The budget will likely call for cuts to farm program spending, including crop insurance.

Land Trust Survey
By Stephen Frerichs

The American Farmland Trust (AFT) recently issued a report inventorying private land trusts that work to protect farm and ranchland in the United States. Many ASFMRA members are familiar with land trusts and appraisers may complete appraisal work for some of them.

The report found that land trusts have protected more than 3 million acres of farm and ranch land nationwide, and at least 4.9 million acres of farm and ranch land have been protected by 192 land trusts and 119 state and local programs.  Interestingly, land trusts have protected significantly more ranchland than cropland—about 76 percent of the protected agricultural land is ranchland.  Also, much of the land trust work is concentrated with 52 land trusts protecting 95 percent of the land, and 55 holding 87 percent of the easements. Finally, most of the land protected by land trusts was donated to them. If you’d like to read the full report, click here: http://farmlandinfo.org/documents/39420/LT_Report_Finalx_with_attachments.pdf

Report: Banks Continue to Meet Rural America’s Credit Needs
From ABA Daily Newsbytes

Banks specializing in agricultural lending extended more than $141 billion in farm loans, accounting for the majority of U.S. farm credit outstanding as of year-end 2012, according to the ABA Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report released on National Agriculture Day.

The report shows that the nation’s 2,215 farm banks are small farmers’ major source of credit. Such banks held $74 billion in small farm loans — with an original value of $500,000 or less — on their books, and $20.6 billion in micro-small loans with an original value of $100,000 or less.

Farm banks also increased ag loans by 13.9 percent or $10 billion in 2012, and held 1.19 million small farm loans — more than 841,000 of which were under $100,000, the report said. Ninety-five percent of farm banks were profitable, with 67 percent reporting an increase in earnings.

They also added more than 3,615 jobs in 2012 — a 4.2 percent increase — and employed 90,569 rural Americans.

“The continued growth in farm loans demonstrates the important role banks play in the success of farms and ranches, both large and small, [and they] remain the most important source of ag credit … ,” said John Blanchfield, director of the ABA Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking. Download the report: http://www.aba.com/Press/Documents/2012FarmBankPerformance031813.pdf. For more information, contact ABA’s John Blanchfield at jblanchf@aba.com.

Ag Bank Performance Scorecard Updated
From ABA Daily Newsbytes

In related news, the ABA Agricultural Banks Performance Scorecard has been updated to include 2012’s fourth-quarter data. The members-only resource enables the industry’s 2,215 agricultural banks to compare their performance with other institutions in their peer group, based on 23 different indicators. The scorecard, which is available on aba.com, shows five years of historical data, and a quartile breakdown of the most recent quarter.

Ag banks, among other things, can use the resource to create investor reports, update their boards of directors on quarterly performance and track their overall progress. ABA also has provided a video that illustrates how the scorecard works. Read more and download the scorecard.  For more information, contact ABA’s Brittany Dengler.

Farm Banks Increase Ag Lending, Jobs in 2012 Despite Slow Economy
Source: American Bankers Association news release, AgriMarketing

U.S. agricultural banks increased farm and ranch lending by 13.9 percent, or $10 billion, in 2012 and held $81.8 billion at the end of the year, according to the American Bankers Association’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report.

Economist: “Why I’m Not Worried about Hyper-Inflation”
From LandOwner

Economist Dr. Mark Datzour believes concerns over hyper-inflation are over-stated. Login to read about this and more at: http://portal.asfmra.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=27&Time=820983562&SessionID=62057594yhofx712z58m6ib178uofz4n8xa01t8fypx92ywdh85706r0j6bv566f&MenuKey=123

Farm Manager & Appraiser Career Opportunities

Check out some new job opportunities on the ASFMRA Career Webpage:

Job Title: Farm Manager
Company: U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management
Position Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Application Deadline: May 1, 2013

Job Title: Appraiser I/II
Position Location: Las Cruces, NM
Application Deadline: Open until filled

Job Title: Associate Director Agrifinance, Mortgage Loan Production (Job ID 1300000P)

Job Title: Staff Review Appraiser I
Position Number: #2106028
Position Location: Kansas City or St. Louis, MO
Application Deadline: June 1, 2013

Get complete info: http://www.asfmra.org/ag-careers-center/

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