Legislative Action News, September 17, 2013

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Will fed take over groundwater regulations?
Ron Smith, Southwest Farm Press

Current status of the Ogallala aquifer “depends on where you are. Some areas are running out of water now; others have deep pockets of water that will still be available after other areas have run out.” Read more: http://southwestfarmpress.com/irrigation/will-fed-take-over-groundwater-regulations?NL=SWFP-01&Issue=SWFP-01_20130911_SWFP-01_395&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1421769&sfvc4enews=42

NJ Governor Vetoes BPO Legislation, Cites ‘Consumer Confusion’
By Scott DiBiasio, Appraisal Institute

On Aug. 19, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed bill S. 2551, legislation that would have significantly expanded the ability of the state’s real estate professionals to provide broker price opinion and comparative market analysis services.

In his veto message to the Legislature, Christie said, “While I appreciate the desire to facilitate additional business for real estate licensees in the state of New Jersey, I am concerned about potential consumer confusion.”

The Appraisal Institute chapters in New Jersey testified in strong opposition to this bill when it was going through the legislative process earlier this year.

As passed by the New Jersey Legislature in late June, the bill would have allowed real estate brokers, broker-salespersons and salespersons to perform BPOs for virtually any purpose, except for use in the New Jersey Tax Court or for use in eminent domain proceedings. The bill would have allowed for BPOs and CMAs to be performed in conjunction with tax appeals, investor due diligence, portfolio valuation and distressed loan workouts and in many legal proceedings.

The bill’s only requirement was a clear disclosure that a BPO or CMA was not an appraisal but rather “an estimate that details the probable selling price of a particular piece of property.”

Under existing New Jersey law, real estate professionals already are permitted to provide “counsel and advice on pricing, listing, selling and use of real property, directly to a property owner or prospective purchaser if the intended use of the counsel or advice is solely for the individual knowledge of or use by the property owner or prospective purchaser.” Additionally, real estate professionals are permitted to provide appraisals to state or federally chartered financial institutions for use in a federally related transactions where the use of a licensed or certified appraiser is not required by federal law.

“Determining the precise value of real estate is a complex process, crucial to the sale of a residential home,” Christie noted in his veto message. “This bill will unwisely introduce confusion into that process, with sellers struggling to determine when and why to use broker price opinions, comparative market analyses, or appraisals. At a time when New Jersey’s residential home sales are rebounding, and many first-time buyers and sellers are entering the real estate market, upsetting our state’s traditional method of home appraisals demands a clear necessity, and a compelling justification. This bill falls short on both…”

The chief proponent of the legislation, the New Jersey Association of Realtors, made it clear that they will be working with the Governor to draft new legislation that addresses his concerns. The Appraisal Institute’s New Jersey chapters will be actively involved in the consideration of any future legislation.

View a copy of S. 2551 as passed the Legislature: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S3000/2551_R1.HTM

Crop insurance becomes bigger target as primary safety net
By Ron Smith, Southwest Farm Press

As crop insurance becomes the warp and weave of the farm safety net, it provides a tempting target for some legislators and numerous organizations who view funding for U.S. farm programs as wasteful and unnecessary.

“If crop insurance becomes the farm safety net, it has to work for the farmer,” says Joe Outlaw, Texas AgriLife Extension economist and co-director of the Texas A&M Agriculture and Food Policy Center.

“When crop insurance becomes the safety net, politics will get into it,” he said, during a risk management panel discussion, part of the second annual Southwest Ag Issues Summit in Oklahoma City.
Read more: http://southwestfarmpress.com/management/crop-insurance-becomes-bigger-target-primary-safety-net?NL=SWFP-01&Issue=SWFP-01_20130913_SWFP-01_190&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1422220&sfvc4enews=42

ASFMRA Members Complete Successful 2013 Leadership Institute
By Stephen Frerichs

Nineteen farm managers and ten appraisers participated in Leadership Institute last week. The group met with Secretary Vilsack, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD) in addition to meeting with their respective Representatives and Senators. The group got a first-hand view of the frustration surrounding the lack of a farm bill passage with Secretary Vilsack telling the group Congress needs to pass a farm bill soon and Chairman Lucas expressing his frustration at how difficult it has been to pass a farm bill this time around. Nevertheless the members expressed optimism that a farm bill will be completed this calendar year.

The group also received briefings from Joe Prusaki with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Joe Glauber, Chief Economist at USDA and Kent Lanclos with the Risk Management Agency in addition to meeting with lobbyists from corn, soybeans, cotton, rice, wheat, the Farm Credit Administration, the National Farmers Union and the American Federation of Farm Bureaus.  A special “thank you” to LI’s sponsor DuPont Pioneer!.

House to Vote on Nutrition Bill this Week
By Stephen Frerichs

House Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA) has placed the “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act” on the calendar this week for a vote in the House.  It is scheduled for a vote sometime between Wednesday and Friday.  The bill is reported to save $40 billion over ten years although it does not have a bill number yet, nor has an official score been released by the Congressional Budget Office.  The general expectation is that the House will appoint farm bill conferees regardless of the outcome of the vote on the nutrition title, although the timing of the appointment may not be this week.  The House is currently not scheduled to be in session next week, but that may change if it can’t work out a continuing resolution to avert a pending government shutdown on October 1.

Continuing Resolution Needed to Avoid Government Shut down
By Stephen Frerichs

The Federal Fiscal Year ends September 30.  To date Congress has not been able to pass the annual appropriations bills that fund the various Departments and agencies throughout the Federal Government. To avoid a shutdown, Congress must pass a “Continuing Resolution”. 

Last week the House started the process by introducing a Continuing Resolution (CR) which includes the continuation of the automatic across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.  The CR however did not directly include provisions to defund or delay Obama-care as many conservative Republicans desired, so without sufficient votes to pass the CR last week, the House will attempt another version this week which will likely include direct defunding or a delayed implementation of Obama-care with the hope that the version garners enough Republican votes for passage. Clearly defunding or delaying the implementation of Obama-care will not pass in the Senate so even if the House does pass a CR this week, the Senate will amend it and send it back to the House.  Congress has 14 calendar days to work out an agreement that the President can sign or the government will shut down on October 1.

Waterways investment vital for agriculture, economy
FBNews – American Farm Bureau Federation

With more than 60 percent of exported U.S. corn shipped via inland waterways and 95 percent of agricultural exports and imports moving through U.S. harbors, funding for flood protection, port improvements and upgrades to the nation’s aging locks and dams infrastructure are as critical as they’ve ever been-to farmers and ranchers and the economy as a whole, according to Farm Bureau.
Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act this spring brought the country one step closer to these important water transport upgrades, but there’s been little movement in the House and that’s not sitting well with farmers and ranchers. Through Farm Bureau’s Bring the Heat campaign, producers are personally delivering a message to their lawmakers: Passage of WRDA is a must to ensure the reliability of the most affordable, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable mode of transporting agricultural products. Read more: http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=37451

Highlights of Leadership Institute 2013
By Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA

ASFMRA’s annual Leadership Institute got underway at the Westin in Alexandria, VA on September 8.  Appraisers arrived by Sunday afternoon. Those arriving early had time to take in some of the monuments and Smithsonian museums along the National Mall.   Sunday evening supper at
Legal Seafood was enjoyed by all appraiser participants.  The appearance of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neal Young at a nearby table was a highlight for the more seasoned participants!  Mr. Young appeared at a Farmers Union rally the following day. 

Monday’s schedule for appraisers included meetings with lobbyists Bill Garber and Scott DiBiasio of the Appraisal Institute; Paula Douglas Seidel of The Appraisal Foundation; a panel discussion with John Ross, director of valuation services for the Department of the Interior, Brian Holly, MAI, chief appraiser for the Department of Justice, and A. Eric Alvarez, chief of the real estate division for U.S. Fish & Wildlife; and Karin Gross and Deena Devereaux, counsel with the IRS.  

Managers arrived by noon on Monday.   The managers and appraisers met at USDA at 1:15 on Monday for a private meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.   Secretary Vilsack made a number of points regarding the farm bill and immigration which were delivered in a speech to the media the next day.    Thanks to participant Darrell Limkeman AFM for arranging this meeting.   Monday afternoon meetings for the managers included presentations by senior economist Tom Reynolds of DuPont and Farm Manager Coordinator Rob Vincent of DuPont Pioneer.    Results of the ASFMRA Government Relations Survey were presented by Merrill Swanson, ARA and Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA.  

Appraisers and managers both benefited from Tuesday’s full-day session of Communications and Advocacy Training with Eileen Wixted and Company. This is high-powered, intense, and extremely beneficial preparation for legislative visits to Capitol Hill.   Tuesday evening’s activities included supper with and presentation by Jim Borel, Executive Vice President of DuPont.   An open-air bus tour of the monuments, including a walking tour of the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Wall, Korean War Memorial, and Iwo Jima Memorial concluded the evening.

Wednesday’s schedule included presentations by ASFMRA lobbyist Stephen Frerichs on the status of the Farm Bill; Joe Prusacki, Director of the Statistics Division for National Ag Statistics Service; Kristi Noem, Congresswoman from South Dakota and member of the House Ag Committee; a roundtable with John Hays, V.P. and Senior Policy Analyst with Farm Credit Council along with lobbyists from the corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice associations plus National Farmers Union.   Wednesday afternoon’s schedule included a meeting with House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with individual visits to the participant’s Senators and Congressmen. 

Thursday’s schedule included a private meeting at USDA with chief economist Joe Glauber, followed by meetings with Kent Lanclos, Deputy Administrator of the Risk Management Agency and Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Relations for American Farm Bureau.
The appraisers schedule concluded with lunch.  

The managers’ day continued northward to Chesapeake Farm, a 3,300 acre farm owned by DuPont near Chestertown MD.   A tour of the farm with biologist Mark Connor and a visit with Trey Hill, a large farm operator and spokesman for agriculture, at his farm was followed by supper at Waterman’s Crab House.    The group was joined by Mr. Hill along with Ed Makowski, director of marketing for DuPont and Matt Scuffham, district sales manager for Pioneer.   An overnight stay at the farm was followed by a country breakfast in the early 1700′s farmhouse.  A tour of herbicide test plots was led by Don Ganske, field development senior consultant for DuPont.   The managers experience concluded with a sporting clays shoot at the facility on the farm.  

Once again, Leadership Institute provided participants with access to a great array of ag policy influencers along with communications training which is useful every day.   The camaraderie, networking, and experience are invaluable as leaders are developed for our state and national activities along with enhanced leadership capabilities within our own communities. 

Leadership Institute is a cooperative effort by ASFMRA staff along with Stephen Frerichs and DuPont Pioneer, with the assistance of farm manager coordinators Rob Vincent, Lonnie Smith, and Pat Tomlinson.  

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