Weekly AgNews – August 15, 2017

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Dupont Acquires Farm Management Software Granular for $300m

Dupont Pioneer has acquired farm management software platform startup Granular for $300 million, AgFunderNews has confirmed.

Granular CEO Sid Gorham will continue to helm Granular while also taking over digital agriculture for DuPont, which includes responsibility for DuPont’s agronomic software business.

Dupont vice president of strategic service and planning John Chrosniak told AgFunderNews that adding farm management software to the company’s digital offering is the result of conversations with their customers.

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Report: Pace of Ag Decline Slowing

The farm economy in Nebraska and surrounding states is continuing to decline, but the pace of decline is slowing.

That’s the conclusion of a report released Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

The report, written by Assistant Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive Nathan Kauffman along with Assistant Economist Matt Clark, says that while the agricultural downturn continued in the second quarter in the Fed’s Tenth District, things appear to be stabilizing somewhat.

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Cash Rents Steady for 2018

DES MOINES (DTN) — It may be early to think about cash rents for 2018, but in Iowa, farmland owner-tenant rules require lease change notifications on or before Sept. 1. So, in late July and August, Iowa State University Extension hosted more than 80 farmland leasing meetings across the state. The general consensus from those meetings is that landowners may not be that generous in lowering rents for 2018.

“Land rents will probably come down,” said Steve Johnson, ISU central Iowa farm management specialist, “but only slightly.”

That’s not to say all cash rents will be steady. In the drought region of southeastern Iowa, ISU Extension specialist Ryan Drollette reported cash rents will likely drop as a result of dismal corn yields ranging from zero to 130 or 140 bushels per acre, instead of 200 bpa. “But in areas where yields are good, farmland owners do not appear to be as willing to reduce cash rents,” said Drollette.

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Disruptive Crop Insurance Startup Crop Pro Raises $8m from Agtech VCs

If you’re looking for disruptive agtech, this could be it and it’s not what you think.

Crop Pro Insurance has raised an $8 million Series A round led by ag-focused venture firms Finistere Ventures and S2G Ventures. Crop Pro Insurance, which is based in Des Moine, Iowa, received approval from the USDA to sell crop insurance on June 30, making it the newest player in a very small club of only 16 approved providers.

Established insurance provider GuideOne Insurance also joined the round.

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Federal Reserve Ag Credit Surveys- Second Quarter Farm Economy Conditions in the Midwest

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City each released updates regarding farm income, farmland values and agricultural credit conditions from the second quarter of this year. Today’s update provides a brief overview of yesterday’s reports.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

David Oppedahl, Senior Business Economist at the Chicago Fed, explained yesterday in The AgLetter that, “Farmland values for the Seventh Federal Reserve District increased 1 percent from a year ago during the second quarter of 2017.

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New ‘Golden Rice’ Offers 3 Micronutrients

A new version of genetically modified rice contains multiple micronutrients, rather than just one, overcoming a limitation of early modified rice plants.

Almost 50 percent of people globally eat rice to meet their daily calorie needs. While a meal of rice stops hunger, it contains very few essential micronutrients, if any. As a consequence, large segments of the human population are malnourished, especially in Asia and Africa. They do not obtain enough iron, zinc, or vitamin A to stay healthy.

Insufficient iron intake results in anemia, retards brain development, and increases mortality among women and infants. If children are deficient for vitamin A, they can become blind and their immune system is weakened, which can cause infectious diseases such as measles, diarrhea, or malaria.

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USDA Drops Corn Yield Slightly, Markets Drop

DES MOINES, Iowa — The U.S. corn crop is getting smaller, while the soybean crop gets bigger, according to the USDA.

In its August Supply/Demand Report Thursday, the USDA pegged the 2017 U.S. corn yield at 169.5 bushels per acre vs. the USDA’s July estimate of 170.7 and the average trade estimate of 166.2 bushels per acre.

For soybeans, the USDA’s U.S. yield is estimated at 49.4 bushels per acre vs. the trendline forecast of 48.0 and the average trade estimate of 47.5 bushels per acre.

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As U.S., Mexican and Canadian Trade Officials Prepare for NAFTA Meetings this Week, Farmers Hope for the Best

By mid-week, Aug. 16 to be exact, trade representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada will be gathering in Washington D.C. to kick off the first of a series of talks in the much anticipated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation process.

Many U.S. manufacturers and other industry leaders have expressed hope that renegotiation of the long-standing compact between the three neighboring trading partners will benefit U.S. corporations and businesses and their workers in the long run, as well as bring needed updates and improvements in areas of electronic banking and money exchange issues, plus provide overall modernization to the existing trilateral agreement.

But not everyone is feeling so optimistic about the upcoming talks. Among U.S. agricultural producers and support groups is a lingering fear that a lot could go wrong as negotiation efforts play out. U.S. agriculture greatly relies upon and benefits from the existing NAFTA agreement in its current form. Charles Baron of the Farmers Business Network, a digital platform for producers, says farmers are feeling vulnerable over the uncertainty of the trade issue—and for good reason.

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Ethanol is Heading Toward Obsolescence. Iowa Will Need a New Plan

Over 40 percent of Iowa’s corn production goes to making ethanol — for a market that could soon disappear. Futurists predict that the energy and transportation industries are poised for rapid change, and that liquid fuels will soon go the route of telephone landlines.

There are three technology developments coming at us very quickly: 1) electric vehicles will soon be cheaper to buy and operate than gasoline and diesel vehicles, 2) solar and wind are becoming the cheapest forms of energy, and 3) homeowner-sized energy-storage systems will soon be widely available at reasonable prices. In his book “Clean Disruption,” Stanford professor Tony Seba argues that these three trends will soon make gasoline and diesel vehicles obsolete.

A “disruptive technology” is one that comes onboard very quickly, disrupting the status quo. Examples: One hundred years ago the introduction of the car quickly displaced the horse and buggy; today, the rapid adoption of cellphones is displacing telephone landlines.

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AQB Examining Feedback

For the last two years, the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) has been examining potential changes to the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria (Criteria) by way of the releasing of specific documents, public hearings and meetings as well as online briefings, according to a release by The Appraisal Foundation (TAF).

To solicit feedback from its stakeholders, the AQB issued a Concept Paper, Discussion Draft, three Exposure Drafts, held a public hearing, an online briefing, and several public meetings over the last two years. The number of responses for each publication has far exceeded comments received on past drafts issued by the AQB. The AQB had hoped that consensus would start to build among the proposed requirements, which include: changes to the college degree requirement, revisions to Guide Note 4 (GN-4) and the development of modules in lieu of field experience, and revisions to experience requirements, the release said.

The only consensus at this time seems to be a lack of consensus regarding the comments on the Third Exposure Draft.

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Member Spotlight: Janie Gatzman

Farming has been in Janie Gatzman’s family for four generations. As soon as she was big enough to sit in front of him, her father had her out on a Honda 3-wheeler checking water with him on their almond farming and processing operation. The passion and knowledge he shared with her was contagious and from a young age, she knew she would find a career centered in ag.

A passion for the topics of land use and water policy, a love of being outdoors and meeting new people lead Janie down a road of trial and error while trying to find the right career. After internships with the Farm Bureau and a stint, in law school Janie found the perfect combination of what she wanted in a job with ag appraisal.

A member since 2003, Janie first discovered ASFMRA while working her first appraisal job at Farm Credit. “All of my coworkers recommended ASFMRA because the curriculum is centered on agriculture” said Janie, “I remain on the cutting edge of my field due to my involvement with the ASFMRA and with the California Chapter of ASFMRA.” Offering up-to-date courses on the latest issues affecting the ag industry makes it easier to stay on topic of changing trends in the profession. Which, as Janie notes is very important for appraisers who “trade in information and having the best understanding of the most current market information makes you the most effective appraiser”.

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Are You Interested in Serving on the AQB or ASB?

The Appraisal Foundation is seeking qualified candidates to serve on the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) and the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB).

Background and Qualifications:

The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) is responsible for establishing the minimum education, experience, and examination qualification criteria for real estate appraisers. Also, the AQB sets the minimum requirements for real estate appraisers to maintain their state credential. The qualification criteria are the minimum criteria that real property appraisers must meet to become state licensed or certified. The AQB also sets the minimum requirements for personal property appraisers, and adherence to the personal property criteria is mandatory for Foundation Sponsors who confer personal property designations. Familiarity with appraiser qualifications is a prerequisite of service on the AQB, and a minimum of ten years of appraisal experience is required.

The Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) is charged with developing, interpreting, and amending the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). Familiarity with USPAP is a prerequisite of service on the ASB, and a minimum of ten years of appraisal experience is required.

The AQB and ASB have up to four face-to-face meetings per year. In-person meetings typically consist of 1½-days of work sessions and a ½-day public meeting. In months when the Boards do not meet in-person, they conduct web or teleconference meetings. Individuals serving on the Boards are compensated for their time and are reimbursed for travel expenses. Those individuals selected for a position on the AQB or ASB will serve initial terms of one to three years commencing January 1, 2018.

The Boards Nominating Committee of the Board of Trustees is interested in business leaders from a variety of disciplines and background for positions on these Boards.

How to Apply:
Please click here to complete an online application.  Application Deadline – August 21.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact Arika Cole at: arika@appraisalfoundation.org or via phone at 202-624-3072.