Weekly AgNews – April 4, 2017

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Senate Agriculture Committee Clears Governor Perdue

Two weeks ago the Senate Agriculture Committee held its nomination hearing with former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. Last week, the Committee cleared his nomination by voice vote. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was the lone “no” vote. The final step is a full Senate vote, which could happen this week, although with the Senate expected to vote on Supreme Court nomination Gorsuch it may not have time to fit in Governor Perdue’s nomination vote. If not this week, the vote will have to wait at least another two full weeks as the Senate breaks for Easter.

By all accounts the Senate Committee hearing was a successful hearing for Sonny Perdue. He received bi-partisan support. Over the course of 3 hours all of the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee were given the opportunity to quiz Mr. Perdue. Governor Perdue continuously affirmed that he would fight for American agriculture and work tirelessly to promote U.S. agriculture products here and abroad.

Read Testimony

Farmers Testify in House Agriculture Committee Hearing about the Next Farm Bill

In the first of two hearings convened by the House General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, farmers representing corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and sorghum testified last week about the effectiveness of the 2014 farm bill and what changes might be required for the next farm bill. All of the groups testified to the importance of crop insurance in their operations. They also discussed the need to fix county disparities and declining benchmark revenues under Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), higher reference prices under Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and the need to make payments sooner under both programs. The second hearing convenes this week with farmers representing cotton, rice and peanuts expected to testify.

Read testimony and watch a replay of the hearing 

Farm Bill Summit Panel Conservation Discussion

What works and what doesn’t – Listen to conservation experts discuss conservation policy of the past and what might be expected in the next farm bill.

Listen

Crop Insurance Raised in Dairy Hearing

The House Ag Committee held a full committee hearing on dairy policy. Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation mentioned Livestock Gross Margin reforms in his written testimony. He did not mention the LGM reforms during his oral statement (other than to say he had some in his written testimony). Basically NMPF is asking to expand the $50 M cap on livestock insurance (it doesn’t specify how much of an expansion) and allow dairy farmers to buy LGM as well as the dairy Margin Protection Program.

FROM Mr. MULHERN’S WRITTEN TESTIMONY

Finally, NMPF urges the Committee to enact policy changes that permit the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM) insurance program, run by the Risk Management Agency (RMA), to work in a complementary manner with MPP. Almost every Title I commodity has the ability to participate in both base programs and Title XI insurance programs. Prohibiting dairy from having that ability not only discourages participation in the program, it further exposes milk, our nation’s third largest commodity by cash receipts, to unwarranted levels of risk.

Specifically, the LGM cap for dairy should be expanded so that more producers can participate. LGM is a sophisticated tool that works very well for specific producers during specific times, in particular when futures prices are high enough to allow farmers to protect a high margin, well above MPP levels. Unlike MPP’s fixed premiums, LGM’s premiums change as futures markets change, and producers have the ability to make numerous decisions to help customize their risk management for their farm.

Mr. Mulhern’s full testimony 

Chairman Conaway Announces House Agriculture Committee Staff Additions

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway announced two new additions to the committee staff to help the Committee prepare for the next farm bill.

Stacy Revels, Professional Staff, will be responsible for a range of issues including biotechnology, specialty crops, horticulture, organic agriculture and food safety. Revels was previously Special Assistant to the Administrator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency. Prior to her time at USDA, she served as the policy adviser for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. Revels also previously worked for the National Pork Board and as an agriscience teacher.

Revels grew up on her family’s diversified farm in central Florida and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education and Communication from the University of Florida as well as a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Trevor White, Professional Staff, will be responsible for commodity policy and crop insurance. White was previously an Associate at Combest, Sell and Associates, where he worked on a variety of issues affecting American agriculture, including farm policy, food aid, and global food security. White also served as a member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill was frequently called upon to educate producers about the new law.

White was raised on a diversified farming operation in New Home, Texas, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from Texas Tech University as well as a Master of Science in Applied Economics from Johns Hopkins University.

The Ferguson AgReport: Trade Deficit Realities 

Hearing and reading repeated warnings that “the U.S. is incurring punitive Trade Deficits” with various nations…especially Mexico, Canada, and China…sounds increasingly ominous to many average Americans. In fact, it is probably correct that most Americans believe trade deficits are so economically destructive that U.S. governmental policy should emphasize eliminating them.

Read More

Large Grain Stocks Revive Debate Over U.S. Land Retirement

Three years ago, Congress voted as part of the 2014 farm law to wind down the CRP to a maximum of 24 million acres, its smallest size since 1988. Enrollment in the long-term land-idling program was down by 30% from its 2007 peak as farmers chased profits in the commodity boom, so the cap was a painless step that incidentally helped lawmakers meet their target for budget savings.

Land retirement is on the table again as Congress prepares for the new farm bill. This time, the argument is whether to divert U.S. cropland from production in the face of large grain inventories worldwide. The lead Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson (MN), says the CRP ceiling ought to be raised to as high as 40 million acres. The larger CRP would bolster crop prices as well as improve water quality, he says, and “address the declining wildlife populations we’ve experienced in my region.” Pheasants Forever says “a robust CRP of 40 million acres is both needed and sought” as a benefit to habitat for game birds and economic support to rural communities.

Read More

Cotton, Soy Plantings to Rise; Corn, Wheat to Fall, USDA Forecasts

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2017 – U.S. cotton farmers are planning to sow 12.2 million acres this year, up 21 percent from last year, driven by expectations of higher prices in 2017, USDA said today in a report based on a survey of growers. The estimate is also up from the 11.5 million planted acres the department predicted at its annual Outlook Forum in late February.

Projections for most other major crops, including corn, soybeans and wheat, hewed closely to the February estimates.

The estimate for corn plantings, for example, is 90 million acres, the same as predicted in February. That would be down 4 percent, or about 4 million acres, from last year. Compared with 2016, planted acreage for corn, the nation’s biggest crop, is expected to be down or unchanged in 38 of the 48 estimating states, according to the report, prepared by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

More on the forecasts

The Future of Energy Runs Through Texas, Not Washington

Despite President Donald Trump’s claims that investing in climate action is a waste of money or that decarbonizing our energy would be job-killing, Texas has proved the opposite.

The state has helped the nation reduce its carbon footprint and has earned a lot of money along the way. As the world chooses a path of decarbonization, we will deploy our vast expanses of cheap, flat, sunny, windy land and extensive reserves of natural gas trapped in shales to sell consumers the low-carbon energy they desire.

The biggest impact on Texas in recent years was from the shale revolution, which has helped the nation wean itself from coal and has reduced emissions dramatically along the way. Shale production created an abundance of affordable natural gas, which is cleaner to burn than coal. New natural gas plants are also about twice as efficient as decades-old coal plants, compounding the benefits of switching from coal to gas.

Learn More

FMC Corporation Buys DuPont Crop Protection Business

FMC and DuPont announced Friday that they had reached an agreement for FMC to acquire the part of DuPont’s Crop Protection business that it must divest to comply with the European Commission ruling related to its merger with Dow Chemical Company. As part of the agreement, DuPont will acquire FMC Health and Nutrition and receive $1.2 billion in cash.

FMC gets DuPont’s global chewing pest insecticide portfolio, its global cereal broadleaf herbicides and a substantial portion of DuPont’s global crop protection research and development capabilities, according to a press statement. In 2017, FMC expects this acquired business will generate about $1.5 billion in revenue and $475 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

With the move, FMC Agricultural Solutions will become the fifth largest crop protection chemical company in
the world by revenue, estimated at $3.8 billion. And it represents a significant change in the company’s corporate research and development culture, creating another player at work in discovering new products.

Read More

Fannie, Freddie Revamp Plan Unlikely this Year, Dividends in Focus

An overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is highly unlikely to make it into this year’s legislative calendar, Congressional staffers say, possibly shifting the new administration’s immediate focus to allowing the mortgage financing institutions’ to rebuild depleted capital.

Fannie and Freddie stocks soared late last year when President Donald Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the companies that have been in government conservatorship since the 2008 financial crisis should be privatized.

Hedge funds and other investors have been lobbying for the removal of government controls over the mortgage giants’ profits, which since 2012 have been transferred to the Treasury, and their eventual privatization.

The shares dipped when Mnuchin seemed to backpedal on the privatization pledge during his January confirmation hearing and suffered another setback last month when a court rejected investors’ suit against the dividend transfers.

More on Fanny and Freddie’s Future

Texas Rural Land Value Trends for 2016

The Texas Chapter of the ASFMRA is set to release its latest issue of the popular Texas Rural Land Values Trends on April 20th during
the 27th Annual Outlook for Texas Land Markets in San Antonio, Texas. The publication, chaired by current President Patty Weber, ARA,
takes countless hours. The project would not be complete without the help of 56 chapter volunteers, a graphic artist and the Chapter’s
Secretary. The 60 page publication takes nearly a year to produce with plans for the next issue taking shape once the current book is
printed. Each year, something new is added and/or changed to keep the look fresh and the content complete and accurate.

The Texas Rural Land Value Trends provides current and historical data for rural properties across the state of Texas with sales prices
and rental rates covering a variety of land types. The book is organized geographically into seven regions, each containing an
editorial overview and a current land and lease value table.

When asked about this year’s information, Weber had this to say, “Overall land values in 2016 varied from region to region and within
land types. Despite prices leveling in some areas, most market participants report positive expectations. It will be interesting to
see what 2017 holds in store considering changing political and economic winds.”

Over the past 19 years, the Rural Land Value Trends has grown to be the number one resource for land and lease value data in Texas.
Available in both print and electronic formats, it is a trusted tool used by thousands of business professionals across the country.
The presentation of the publication is a highlight at the Annual Outlook Conference each year.

Information on the Annual Outlook for Texas Land Markets Conference
Information on the Texas Rural Land Value Trends and the activities of the Texas Chapter, ASFMRA

Welcome New Members

Thank you for being a part of ASFMRA! Help ASFMRA welcome our new members and thank them for choosing the Society as the organization that they desire to be affiliated with. ASFMRA continues to support rural property professionals and offers services, resources and education which will be of benefit to all of our members, both professionally and personally.

We are recognizing new members of the Society on a monthly basis. You may recognize your colleagues in the following list and we encourage you to welcome them into ASFMRA!

New Members
Alex Billman with Farmland Management Services in Black River Falls, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Michael Bretl with Farmland Management Services in Wisconsin Rapids, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Bradley Bujan with CBRE in San Antonio, TX (Texas Chapter)
Kelsey Burgener in Moweaqua, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Randy Dewald with Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma in Mooreland, OK (Oklahoma Chapter)
Delaney Drost in Fort Collins, CO (Colorado and Wyoming Chapters)
Katherine Fraser in Turlock, CA (California Chapter)
Manuel Gomes with Farm Credit West in Tulare, CA (California Chapter)
Lee Hancock with NeWEST Real Estate and Agriculture in Pueblo, CO (Colorado Chapter)
Beth Holland in Donnelly, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Emmalee Hortenstine in Sullivan, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Jeremiah Johnson with U.S. Government in Lindstrom, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Mitch Kehren with AgStar Financial Services, ACA in Northfield, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Aaron Kreutzer with High Plains Farm Credit in Hays, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Benjamin Laird with Farm Credit Services of America in Wayne, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Brooke Lindgren with Farm Credit Services of America in Huron, SD (South Dakota Chapter)
Nicholas Machado in Fresno, CA (California Chapter)
Robert Perdue with Perdue Russell Matthies & Fusco Real Estate Appraisal in Temecula, CA (California Chapter)
Karl Pippenger with Farmland Management Service in Phillips, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Cade Sallee with Farm Credit of Southern Colorado in Fowler, CO (Colorado Chapter)
Brian Sampson in Fresno, CA (California Chapter)
Mykel Taylor with Kansas State University in Wamego, KS (Kansas Chapter)
William Thompson with Valbridge Property Advisors-Dugger, Canaday, Grafe in San Antonio, TX (Texas Chapter)
Richard Zollinger with Farmland Reserve, Inc. in Ankeny, IA (Iowa and Missouri Chapters)

Share Your Experience – Make a Referral

You know first-hand what a great organization ASFMRA is and what it means to you both professionally and personally. Pass that benefit on to others that you know who would benefit from membership with The Most Trusted rural property professional organization – ASFMRA! Talk to those you know who would benefit from ASFMRA’s educational offerings, networking, and meetings. Let them know your experiences of being involved in this great association and some of the business contacts you have made along with lasting friendships. Your peers listed below have done just that! They spoke to individuals about ASFMRA and those individuals have now become members of ASFMRA!

Ray Bartholomew
David BGaughman, AFM
Maria Boerngen
Brooke Carey
Bonnie Downing, ARA
Carl Evers, AFM
Gary Helin
Kyle Knight
Kim Larson
Edward Lumpee, ARA
Philip Sadler
Adam Schmidt
William Sellwood, ARA
Monty Smith, AFM
Jennifer Stites
Merrill Swanson, ARA
Sara Wilson

Thank you to all who have referred someone and in some cases, more than one, to join ASFMRA.

Education Foundation Dollars at Work

The Education Foundation spends development dollars – dollars donated by you, other members, Chapters, companies – for expenditures such as: A102 update and edit, A600 course development, A304 editing, A250 editing, editing of many seminars, and general editing of educational material. Each year, the Education Foundation sponsors Students at Summer Education Week. The development of both AAC courses along with editing some courses were also covered by Foundation dollars.

As you may be aware, the Education Foundation is a non-profit organization that develops educational programs for professional advancement which includes courses, seminars, and webinars. Informative programs to increase awareness of the role agricultural consultants, rural appraisers, farm managers, and review appraisers have in agriculture, rural economy, and public policy is also provided by the Foundation. This is possible due to the generosity and support from members, Chapters, and companies.

You can make your tax-deductible contribution supporting the Education Foundation by one or a combination of the following:

  • Include a donation along with your dues invoice in any amount that you would like.
  • Make a monthly gift, annual gift, semi-annual gift, or consider an Endowment.
  • Encourage your Chapters to make a donation.
  • Make a donation in Memory of or in Honor of a deceased fellow member.
  • Make a donation at any time throughout the year – don’t forget that last minute donation at the end of the year.

These types of donations can be a great way to show your support the Education Foundation that has been beneficial to so many. Any expression of support is greatly appreciated, and as you know, your contribution is tax-deductible. Thank you!

Donate

Make the Most of Your Membership – Mark Your Calendar Now for Orientation

Learn about the benefits you receive from your ASFMRA membership through this informative meeting which will consist of a power point presentation and conference call. New Member Orientation meetings/calls are done on a quarterly basis. This is the perfect way to afford new members the opportunity to get together with ASFMRA Executive Council and ASFMRA Staff for an open/interactive forum to be briefed on ASFMRA meetings, education, and other opportunities. You will also have the opportunity to learn about other new members to the Society. If you are a new member, you will receive an email invitation which will contain a link for you to join the power point presentation and the call in information for you to participate in the conference call portion of the meeting. Join us to learn about the benefits you receive from your ASFMRA membership. The upcoming schedule is as detailed below.

  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017 9 am PT / 10 am MT / 11 am CT / 12 pm ET
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2017 9 am PT / 10 am MT / 11 am CT / 12 pm ET
  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017 9 am PT / 10 am MT / 11 am CT / 12 pm ET
  • Tuesday, January 16, 2018 9 am PT / 10 am MT / 11 am CT / 12 pm ET