Weekly AgNews – March 14, 2017

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Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Farmland

Bruce Sherrick, professor of farmland economics at the University of Illinois, gives these 10 highlights every farmer should know about land in 2017.

1. Land prices are down, but they’re not crashing. 2. Most farmers are not selling land. 3. This is not another 1980s farm crisis. 4. Low commodity prices in 2017 won’t mean a land crash. 5. Farmers are buying land.

Read the entire article and make sure you attend AgroNomics, 2017 in Savannah, Georgia to get more information and insight from Dr. Sherrick.

Fannie-Freddie Bailout Looms Over White House

Pressure is mounting on the Trump administration to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the two mortgage giants grow increasingly vulnerable to another taxpayer bailout despite robust profits. The companies are watching their capital dwindle as the Treasury takes most of their earnings, weakening their ability to weather market volatility and raising the odds of short-term losses. Corporate tax reform — a top priority of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans — could force them to take huge writedowns. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says a fix for the companies isn’t at the top of the administration’s agenda. But without action from the White House or Congress, it’s all but certain that Fannie and Freddie, which back two-thirds of U.S. home loans, will need another taxpayer rescue on the Republicans’ watch.  Read the rest of the story.

Do We Really Need to Double Food Production by 2050? Actually … No.

For decades, American agriculture has been a paragon of productivity, churning out record crops at a steady clip. We have exported both our farm products and our way of farming a round the world, and global production has risen relentlessly.

Yet now, there is concern that even this is not enough. The United Nations projects that the global population will increase from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 9.7 billion in 2050. This growth will be concentrated in the world’s poorest countries, where standards of living are set to rise rapidly, increasing demand for resource-intensive meat and dairy products. Together, these trends are heightening fears that the world’s cupboards may run bare in the coming decades.  Learn more.  

Farm Managers Sound Off On Reform for 1031 Exchanges

This coming year may see more reform and changes than we’ve seen in quite some time. Tax reform related to 1031 tax-deferred exchanges can affect your clients, especially if they’re planning to sell income-producing property.

1031 tax-deferred exchanges have existed since 1921. These exchanges allow owners of business and investment properties to defer paying capital gains taxes if they reinvest all proceeds from the sale of a currently owned property (relinquished property) into a like-kind property (replacement property). Taxes on capital gains are not recognized on the property sale if the money is used to purchase another property. The payment is deferred until property is sold with no reinvestment.  See what ASFMRA members had to say!  

March 2017 – The Beige Book Report on Economic Activity

Home construction and sales continued to expand modestly in most Districts, while residential rental markets were mixed. Home prices were steady to up modestly in most Districts, and a number of Districts noted low inventories of existing homes. Commercial real estate construction grew modestly, and sales and leasing activity grew moderately. Lending activity was steady to somewhat higher. Businesses were generally optimistic about the near-term outlook but to a somewhat lesser degree than in the prior report.  View the Beige Book Report.

As Total Crush Figures Climb, So Do Wine Grape Prices

With a bigger crop than in 2015, wine grapes from the 2016 harvest sold for higher prices, even reaching record levels in areas of North Coast. It was a bit of a sleeper crop. It just didn’t seem all that big on the vine in the Central Valley.” That’s the reaction of Brian Clements, vice-president of Turrentine Brokerage, Novato, Calif., to the California Preliminary 2016 Grape Crush Report, which puts the total weight of all grapes crushed at last year’s harvest at nearly 4.2 million tons – an 8.5 percent increase from 2015.  Glass of wine anyone?  

Perdue Nomination Paperwork Submitted

The Senate Agriculture Committee has officially received the nomination of Sonny Perdue to be the next Secretary of Agriculture, clearing a major hurdle in the confirmation process. A spokeswoman for the committee confirmed the news to Agri-Pulse Friday morning. In a statement, Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the committee, said this will allow for committee consideration.  Read more.  

Tesla’s Battery Farm on Kauai Opens, Large-Scale Solar Energy for Hawaii

Even before Elon Musk engineered Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, the two companies were collaborating. SolarCity was already controlled by Musk, who believes its solar-energy business can be reinforced and complemented by Tesla’s energy-storage business. Last year, Tesla announced a joint project with SolarCity to install a large battery farm and solar array in Hawaii. That project is now complete, and ready to provide electricity to a Hawaiian utility. Tesla, SolarCity, and partner Kauai Island Utility Cooperative unveiled the completed solar and energy-storage facility last week, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Learn more.

Agricultural Panel Talks Specialty Crops, Farm Labor Problems

An Agriculture subcommittee hearing on specialty crops veered into a discussion of farm labor and immigration policy Thursday with one multi-state farm produce company witness saying an adequate, legal labor force is the industry’s “most pressing issue.”

About 150,000 seasonal guest workers a year receive Department of Labor H-2A visas, or about 10% of what is required, said James Field, director of business development at Illinois-based Frey Farms, which produces fresh fruits and vegetables in seven states.  Learn more.