Weekly AgNews – April 18, 2017

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Who’s Buying Iowa Farmland?

Demand for Iowa farmland remains strong, despite another year of reduced farm income from low corn and soybean prices. While land demand is strong, there isn’t much land being offered for sale.

That’s how farm real estate professionals attending the March 22 meeting of the Iowa Realtors Land Institute at Ames summed up the current supply-demand situation for cropland. Competition for farmland is as intense as it’s been in the past 20 years, they say, due to a “very limited” amount of land available for sale. Also, more outside investors are getting back into the market, bidding against farmers who want to buy land.

“It’s definitely a tighter market now,” says Kyle Hansen, a real estate agent with Hertz Real Estate Services. “There are a lot of strong buyers interested, and there are very few opportunities to buy. It’s similar to the 1980s when farmers and investors with cash on hand waited to see where the bottom of the land market was, before they decided to make their purchase.”

More on Iowa Farmland

Trump: We’re Going to do a Very Major Haircut on Dodd-Frank

In the words of President Donald Trump, the era of “horrible regulations” is coming to an end.

On Tuesday, during a gathering of some of the CEOs of the country’s largest companies hosted by the White House, Trump told the crowd that his administration is working hard to “destroy” many of the regulations holding back the private sector and plans to continue doing so.

“We are absolutely destroying these horrible regulations that have been placed over your heads, not over the last eight years, over the last 20 and 25 years,” Trump told the crowd of approximately 50 CEOS, which included the CEOs of Citigroup, Blackstone, HSBC Bank, the New York Stock Exchange, BNY Mellon, Vornado Realty Trust, and others.

More on Trump’s Plan

House Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Second Commodity Hearing

In the second of two hearings convened by the House General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, farmers representing cotton, rice, peanuts, canola and sugar testified about current market conditions for their respective crops and laid out changes they would like to see in the next farm bill. Again, strong support for crop insurance figures prominently in their policy provisions. Cotton growers in particular are seeking to give cotton farmers the choice to enroll cotton oil seed as an eligible crop under ARC and PLC or STAX. With low participation in STAX to date and no eligibility to enroll cotton or cottonseed in ARC/PLC, cotton farmers are seeking relief from continued low prices.

Read testimony and watch a replay of the hearing.

USDA Approves Emergency CRP Grazing

USDA’s Farm Service Agency acting in response to a directive from President Donald J. Trump, authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas – the three states which were most heavily impacted by ongoing wildfires which began on March 6, 2017. Because Governor Perdue has not yet been confirmed, President Trump had to authorize the emergency measure.

Chairman Conaway to Chair Russia Probe

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) has been asked by Speaker Ryan to take the lead of the House Intelligence Committee probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Embattled House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, (R-CA) agreed to step aside for the Russian investigation. Chairman Conaway is number two on the Intelligence Committee in terms of seniority. His appointment should not impact the Agriculture Committee’s work preparing for the next farm bill.

Senate Agriculture Committee Schedules Second Farm Bill Listening Session

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold its second farm bill field hearing on May 6 at the Michigan State University’s Saginaw Valley Research Center in Frankenmuth, MI. from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts(R-KS) announced the hearing last week. The panel’s first field hearing for the 2018 reauthorization was held earlier this year in February in Kansas. The second installment will likely focus on the needs of specialty crop growers, organic producers, urban farmers and other niche crops and production methods — reflecting agricultural systems in Michigan that Stabenow has championed.

Senate to Vote on Governor Perdue Nomination

The Senate has scheduled a vote to confirm Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture upon return from its current 2-week recess. The vote is set for Monday evening, April 24. By all accounts he should receive strong bipartisan support.

Nut Land Values Lower in 2016 as Napa Vineyard Sale Prices Soar

Prices paid for California farm land in 2016 were largely off their record highs from the year before, but not in all cases as wine grape vineyards – particularly Napa Cabernet – stole the show.

While the sparkle on tree nut ground diminished somewhat over previous year figures, notable highs were seen around the state in wine and table grape vineyards, rangeland and land labeled simply as “cropland,” according to the latest trends report from the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA).

For 27 years, the California ASFMRA has published a trends report on agricultural land values in the state, giving the industry a snapshot of farm land sales prices in the previous year. The reports are co-chaired by Californians Tiffany Holmes, senior appraiser with Edwards, Lien & Toso in Hilmar, and Janie Gatzman, Gatzman Appraisal, Oakdale.

More on California land values.

Analyst: U.S. Corn Planting Pace Just Average

It’s early April and the first third of the month is flying by with very little planting progress so far in the U.S. Soils need to warm up, for the most part, and weather has mostly been cooperative on the temperature side, but precipitation amounts have also been average to above average so far. That leaves some planting completed across the U.S., but, for the most part, we are only about average in planting progress to this point in spite of early snow melt and warm early spring temperatures.

U.S. weather forecasts as of 4/11/17 for the next seven days still show above-normal temperatures for most of the U.S. (except the Pacific Northwest), with precipitation above normal for all but the Southeast and a band including the states of MN, SD, WY, and CO. The eight- to 14-day is cooler (below-normal temperatures) for the northern third of the U.S., but above normal for the southern half of the U.S. The warm temperatures will help soils to warm up in many areas, but the precipitation chances will slow planting where moisture falls.

More on the planting pace.

Chile Turning to U.S. for More Wheat, Corn

In the report, the USDA noted that area planted to both wheat and corn decreased in Chile during the 2016-17 marketing year, reflecting anticipated droughts that led farmers to plant less.

With less planted area to the crops, the United States has staked claim to a larger share of Chile’s import market.

In the case of wheat, U.S. wheat exports to Chile in the 2015-16 marketing year reached 373,000 tonnes, up 100% from 186,000 tonnes in the 2014-15 marketing year.

More on Chile-U.S. exports.

Reuters: Corn Firms on Short-covering Ahead of U.S. Planting Season

U.S. corn futures climbed nearly 2 percent Monday on short-covering ahead of the Midwest planting season and chart-based buying, analysts said.

Wheat futures were also higher on short-covering while soybeans were modestly lower, retreating from early advances.

As of 12:58 p.m. CDT (1758 GMT), the Chicago Board of Trade May corn contract was up 6-1/2 cents at $3.66 per bushel. May wheat was up 3-1/4 cents at $4.27-1/4 a bushel and May soybeans were down 1/4 cent at $9.41-3/4 a bushel.

Read more.

Report: Drone ROI Averages $15 Per Acre

Many retailers know approximately what a drone might cost. Fewer know what return on that agtech investment might bring – but a new report brings fresh ROI insights.

DroneDeploy, a cloud-based software platform for commercial drone use, has now been used on 10 million acres, and the company celebrated this milestone by analyzing drone uses, frequency of flights and that all-important ROI. CEO Mike Winn says on average, users are capturing around $15 per acre on their farm.

“A lot of people are using this technology and putting it to work,” he says.

According to DroneDeploy’s analysis, 60% of their users are creating drone maps at least once a week. That’s up from 40% a year ago, Winn says – and he expects the trend to continue.

More on drone costs.

Smart Farming Drones-Agriculture’s High-flying Future

If you’re in agriculture, you can expect to be in the business of farming drones soon if you aren’t already. All over the world, smart farming drones are taking the industry by storm, helping farmers increase yields while reducing environmental impact – a win-win once thought impossible.

Smart farming

By 2050, the world will need to grow about 70 percent more food to feed the growing world population. With likely water shortages and limited available arable land, this is a seriously tall order. Making it happen will require some serious science – smart farming.

Sometimes referred to as precision agriculture, smart farming is a growing body of knowledge and new technology focused on harnessing geographical, environmental, and biological data to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural foods while reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

Read more.

WGA’s Tom Nassif on Need for Agtech Amid California’s Farmworker Shortage and Immigration Policy Uncertainty

It’s now been over a year since Western Growers (WGA), the member association for west coast fruit, vegetable, and permanent crop farmers, opened the doors of its Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT) in Salinas. In January 2015 it started with six startups and is now home to 35

With the idea of bringing agtech entrepreneurs closer to the farmer they’re aiming to serve, the Center provides desk space for startups and organizes various events aimed at facilitating this interaction, and helping its startups flourish.

In January 2015 it started with six startups and is now home to 35 with more startups in the pipeline which will take it past its original target of 30-35 businesses.

Read more.

ASFMRA, ASA, NAIFA Express “Strong Opposition” to CA Senate Bill 70

Would Allow Appraisers to Omit Prior Appraisals, Sales, Listings from Report with Client Approval

On April 10 ASFMRA, along with the American Society of Appraisers and the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers, sent a letter to the Chair of the California Senate’s Standing Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development to voice opposition to Senate Bill 70. The bill, if passed, would “allow appraisers to omit critical information from appraisal reports”, such as “prior appraisals having been performed by the appraiser, or sales, option, or listing information”. While this would require consent by the client, “it is easy to imagine this consent being tucked into the boiler plate language of an engagement letter”.

The letter emphasizes “[t]here is no benefit to consumers or appraisers in the…bill, and in fact the bill could encourage unethical behavior and harm consumers”. Moreover, such a bill would “place California at odds with the 54 other jurisdictions who rely on [the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice] as the governing set of appraisal standards” by allowing for the omission of specific requirements USPAP otherwise imposes. Such a move would override the existing biennial review USPAP undergoes, and erode Standards that have been developed and refined by public comment for over a quarter of a century.

Read the full letter sent by ASFMRA, ASA, and NAIFA.

First Education Foundation Auction Donation Received

The first Education Foundation Auction donation has been received! The FIRST 2017 Auction donation was made by the Indiana Chapter!

The Indiana Chapter has donated an Indianapolis 500 Racing package. You do not want to miss your opportunity to bid on this amazing package that includes everything that you will need to have an amazing weekend! The package has it all – includes two tickets for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race weekend (May 25th through May 27th), two race day tickets located in the Paddock Grandstand where you will have a spectacular view of the Start/Finish, two tickets for admission to Miller Lite Carb Day (May 25th), two tickets for Legends Day (May 26th), two tickets for admission to the garage area immediately following completion of the race, and a three day auto parking permit!

Make your tax deductible donation to the Education Foundation Auction today by simply completing the donation form. Return the completed form directly to Hope Evans via e-mail at: hevans@asfmra.org or fax at: 303.758.0190.

Mark your calendar now – November 16, 2017 in Savannah, Georgia and be part of this special event. Plans are being made and we need you to make the Auction a success again this year! We need your donations. The Education Foundation Auction’s success depends on you – ASFMRA members, Chapters, sponsors, exhibitors, and nonmember supporters.

Make your commitment for Auction items by October 23, 2017. Auction items should be shipped directly to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa to arrive no later than Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Please do not send your Auction items to arrive at the hotel more than three (3) days in advance – not to arrive before November 10, 2017 – due to the cost the hotel charges for storage.

If you have any questions concerning donations, contact Hope Evans directly at: 303.692.1216 or hevans@asfmra.org. THANK YOU for your generous donations and continued support.

2017 Journal of ASFMRA

The Journal of the ASFMRA has long served the ASFMRA membership and agribusiness community by providing the most up-to-date studies, research, practices, and methodologies proposed by the leading academic, management, appraisal and consulting members of our professions.
Interested in how producers perceive things like environmental sustainability, adoption measures and maintenance of environmentally friendly conservation measures?  Read Conservation Attitudes and Satisfaction on Agro-Environmental Conditions of South Dakota: A study of Landowners’ Perceptions in 2017′s Journal.