Weekly AgNews – March 7, 2017

Printer Friendly
Bookmark and Share

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Farm Bill Hearing in Kansas

On February 23rd, the Senate Agriculture Committee started its process towards formulating the next farm bill with a hearing in Manhattan, Kansas. Ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Chairman Roberts (R-KS) attended the hearing. Chairman Senator Roberts started off the hearing by noting: “We start the journey to a successful and timely 2018 Farm Bill in the Heartland, because that is where it matters most…on our farms, ranches, businesses, and city and county halls across the countryside.  Producers, agribusinesses, and our rural communities are the ones who sign up for programs, comply with regulations, and feel the pain first-hand of over-burdensome or under-supportive policies.”  The hearing was nearly 3 hours long and included 18 witnesses on two panels in addition to an introductory panel of 3 witnesses.  If you want, you can read the witness testimony or watch a replay of the hearing.  Note the first panel of witnesses starts around the 42-minute mark after the introductory panel and opening remarks by Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow.

ASFMRA Joins over 500 Agricultural Organizations

In a letter addressed to House and Senate Budget and Appropriations leaders over 500 agricultural organizations, including ASFMRA, urged Congressional leaders to reject calls for additional cuts to programs under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The letter notes that Agriculture has taken more than its fair share of budget cuts via the 2014 Farm Bill and additional cuts will make passing the next farm bill difficult.  Read the letter.

Additionally, ASFMRA signed-on with a like number of groups urging President Trump to invest federal funds and encourage non-federal partnerships to fund needed rural infrastructure improvements. For example, one-quarter of our rural road system’s bridges require significant repair, or cannot efficiently handle today’s traffic and many of the 240 locks and dams along the inland waterways are in need of modernization. The President called for major infrastructure investment in his address to Congress and rural America needs to be a major part of that initiative.  Read the letter.

House Agriculture Committee Urges House Budget Committee: “No Cuts to Agriculture”

Every year the House authorizing committees provide a “Views and Estimates” letter to the House Budget Committee before the Budget Committee starts the process of writing the Congressional Budget. Last week, the House Agriculture Committee approved its letter urging the Budget Committee to provide no further cuts to agriculture spending. The letter references the fact that the Agriculture Committee has saved over $104 billion with the passage of the 2014 farm bill instead of the projected $23 billion at the time of passage. The increase in savings is largely due to lower SNAP and crop insurance costs. The Committee also noted the current downturn in the agricultural economy will require the next farm bill to be written in a timely manner.  Read the full letter.

Senator Thune Introduces Soil Health and Income Protection Program

Farm Bill ideas are starting to pop up and Senator Thune (R-SD) introduced one last week calling it the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP). It’s a voluntary program tackling both soil health and farming of less-productive land. Senator Thune says the idea is designed for the ‘tough ag economic times we’re in.’  The SHIPP proposal is a shorter term conservation initiative than the Conservation Reserve or CRP program. Farmers would have to commit a maximum of 15 percent of their least productive acreage for three to five years, unlike the 10 to 15-year commitment farmers have with CRP acreage.  Producers have an opportunity to plant the acreage with hay or alfalfa outside the nesting and brood-rearing period established for the county.  The SHIPP annual payment rate is half of the CRP general sign-up rental per acre rate for the county. Participating producers will also receive a slight increase in crop insurance premiums for the years their land is out of production.

EPA to Review and Rescind WOTUS

On February 28, 2017, the President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review and rescind or revise the 2015 WOTUS Rule. The EPA and the Army Corps announced their intention to review that rule by providing an advanced notice of a forthcoming proposed rulemaking consistent with the Executive Order. In doing so, the agencies will consider interpreting the term “navigable waters,” as defined in the Clean Water Act in a manner consistent with the opinion of Justice Scalia in Rapanos.   Read the advance notice. 

ChemChina Says Syngenta Deal Filing Accepted by Beijing

ChemChina said on Monday that Beijing had accepted its application for regulatory approval of its $43 billion takeover of Syngenta last month. Earlier Gao Hucheng, who retired as commerce minister less than two weeks ago, said the government had not received a formal filing for China’s largest overseas acquisition.  Read more.

Washington Week Ahead: Senate Set to Kill Obama BLM Reforms

The Senate is taking the final congressional step this week to kill the Obama administration’s overhaul of the way the Bureau of Land Management makes land-use decisions. The House voted 234-186 in February to approve a resolution that would eliminate the BLM Planning 2.0 rule, which ranchers and other critics say would dilute the influence of local and regional officials on BLM decisions. The Senate is scheduled Monday evening to vote on advancing the measure. If the Senate OKs the measure, the rule would be eliminated once President Trump signs the resolution. The rule, issued in December, is one of a series of regulations issued in the final months of the Obama administration that the Republican Congress is trying to kill through use of the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that had been used successfully only once prior to this year. A CRA resolution must be approved within a limited time after the Congress is formally notified that the regulation is taking effect.  Learn more.

Conaway Vows to Complete 2018 Farm Bill on Time

As Congress begins to work seriously on crafting a new farm bill, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said today that when it comes to budget cuts, “we gave at the office.” Conaway gave a speech to farmers and ag leaders this morning at Commodity Classic in San Antonio, and followed up with a press conference to farm media. His overarching message in both forums was the same, however:  To avoid adding more uncertainty to an already strained farm economy, the next farm bill must be done on time.

“If you want the drama associated with short-term extensions or expirations and permanent law, I need you to go to a different theater,” he said in his speech at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, drawing applause from the packed ballroom. Conaway also said President Donald J. Trump has said he wants a “strong farm bill and on time.” The Texas Republican cited a letter he and the committee’s ranking minority member, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., sent to the budget committee Wednesday, “asking for the same resources we got in 2014.”

Agriculture voluntarily agreed to save $23 billion over 10 years when it developed the 2014 farm bill, but the latest estimates show that the savings are more than four times that – about $104 billion, Conaway said.  Read more.

Average Age of Farmers on the Rise, Nationwide, Statewide, and in GLOW Region

GLOW REGION — A mere 18 cows and a few acres of land.That’s what Gordon Offhaus started with in 1959 in Elma, Erie County. “It was like that all over,” Offhaus said. “We’d cut some hay or milk some cows then get together for beers. Or hard cider.” Offhaus, unlike many of his brethren who sold out, is now 81 and still farming, albeit what he calls being “semi-retired.” The average age of those operating farms in the United States has risen from 50.5 in 1984 to 58.3 years as of 2014. In New York state, the 2012 Census of Agriculture shows that the vast majority of farm operations are run by people 55 years or older. Of the state’s 20,400 farms, nearly 7,000 were operated by those 65 and older.  Read more.

Bayer/Monsanto Seeking Merger Approval from 30 Countries

With farmer and regulator eyes turned toward the two companies, Bayer and Monsanto technology leads on Thursday repeated their confidence the merger will close by the end of 2017. The companies need approval from regulatory authorities in 30 countries. “We’ve submitted information to 20 and everything is on track,” said Adrian Percy, head of research and development at Bayer CropScience during a press conference at Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. “One strength [for getting through regulatory challenges] is these are complementary businesses,” said Robb Fraley, Monsanto chief technology officer during the same press conference. “We’re going to increase competition and innovation.” Increased rate of innovation to help farmers is the cornerstone benefit of the merger, according to the companies. “This deal between Monsanto and Bayer is all about innovation and accelerating innovation,” Percy said. “We need this to not only help growers but drive greater food production.”  Read more.

Battle Brewing Over Ethanol Program Post 2022

Ethanol already supplies over 10 percent of the U.S. gasoline market and the fuel’s share is growing. Yet Congressman Bill Flores, who wants to see ethanol capped at 9.7 percent of the market, is holding back on reintroducing a measure that would do just that, “in an effort to seek a more holistic solution.” The Texas Republican and former oil company CEO tells Agri-Pulse that if his self-restraint doesn’t trigger productive bipartisan discussions about ethanol, “then I’ll re-introduce my original legislation.” Along with a score of other recent bills, Flores’s legislation would amend the Clean Air Act by revising the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its biofuels use mandates that Congress enacted in 2005 and amended in 2007 during the George W. Bush presidency.

In explaining his bill last May, Flores charged that reducing the ethanol mandate is needed for many reasons, including that “gasoline demand has fallen and is well below the volumes implied by the ethanol mandates in the 2007 statute.” Currently, Flores is calling for a “market-based energy policy” designed to “expand access to oil and gas exploration in the U.S. rather than trying to force non-economic sources of energy and technologies into the marketplace.”  Learn more.

Taxes Could Flow with Dakota Access Pipeline

North Dakota stands to gain more than $110 million annually in tax revenue after oil begins coursing through the Dakota Access pipeline, an analysis by The Associated Press shows. The calculation shows the potential payoff for a state whose officials have supported the pipeline despite concerns from Native American tribes and other opponents who fear it could harm drinking water and sacred sites. The money the state stands to make in just one year far outstrips the $33 million in costs to police a section of the pipeline that’s been the subject of intense and sometimes violent protests over the last year.

“The amount of the windfall to the state doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Payu Harris, an American Indian activist and pipeline opponent. “That’s why the state of North Dakota expended the resources they did.” Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8 billion pipeline will carry oil more than 1,000 miles to a shipping point in Illinois and may be moving oil as early as next week. Its completion would be welcome both for drillers seeking a cheaper path to market and for the state government in North Dakota, where declining tax revenue has clouded its budget.  Learn more.

Dow-DuPont Close to Winning EU Approval

Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. are on track to win European Union approval for their $74 billion tie-up as soon as next month after tweaking concessions to allay antitrust concerns, according to people familiar with the situation. Regulators don’t see the need for more feedback from rivals and customers and plan to consult the EU’s lawyers and policymakers on final approval for the deal, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. Shares of both companies rose more than 3%.

The takeover, announced a year ago, is one of a trio of mega-deals that would reshape the global agrochemicals industry. The others are Bayer AG’s plan to buy Monsanto Co. and China National Chemical Corp.’s agreement to buy Syngenta AG. The combined transactions would whittle down six industry players to three behemoths in America, Germany and China.  Learn more.

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

  • Cody Barilla with American AgCredit in Great Bend, KS (Kansas Chapter)
  • Taylor Bussman with Tinjum Appraisal Company, Inc. in Detroit Lakes, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
  • Ann Denk in Mondovi, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
  • John Fleischmann with Badgerland Financial in Baraboo, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
  • Brian Frischmeyer with Monsanto in Urbandale, IA (Iowa Chapter)
  • Will Gabbert with FCS Financial in Sedalia, MO (Missouri Chapter)
  • Daniel Glenn with Glenn Real Estate Group, Inc. in Wrightsville Beach, NC (North Carolina Chapter)
  • Kaci Levorsen in Fargo, ND (North Dakota Chapter)
  • William McClure with U.S. Bamboo Coalition in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Florida Chapter)
  • Jared Oachs in Herman, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
  • Kalley Otremba in Sauk Rapids, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
  • Phillip Poppe with Farmers National Company in Saybrook, IL (Illinois Chapter)
  • Madison Ryckman in Fargo, ND (North Dakota Chapter)
  • James Schieffer with Rabo Agrifinance in Troy, MO (Missouri Chapter)
  • Austin Schoon in Clinton, MN (North Dakota and Minnesota Chapters)
  • Harry Schulz in West Fargo, ND (North Dakota and Minnesota Chapters)
  • Austin Svenningsen in Fargo, ND (North Dakota Chapter)
  • Theodore Tice in Chicago, IL (Illinois Chapter)
  • Roxanne Waite with AgChoice Farm Credit in Beavertown, PA (Northeast Chapter)
  • Kacie Wiederholt with FCS Financial in Maryville, MO (Missouri Chapter)

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!

  • Dennis Badtke, ARA
  • Ronald Dunker, Jr.
  • Dennis Hoyt, AFM
  • Terry Kestner, ARA, RPRA
  • Will Mullenix
  • Nicholas Pease
  • Adlai Riekhof, ARA
  • Tyson Steffen
  • Rodger Tinjum, ARA

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

Your Donation Makes a Difference!

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 to 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 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. Donate today!

California Chapter to Release 2017 Trends in Agricultural Land and Lease Values

The California Chapter is set to release its latest issue of the popular Trends publication on March 30th during the Outlook 2017 Agribusiness Conference in Fresno. The book’s co-chairs, Janie Gatzman, ARA and Tiffany Holmes, ARA will have spent countless hours on the project when it hits the press along with their team of 42 chapter volunteers, a graphic artist, and the chapter’s Executive Vice President. The 100 plus 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 in an effort to keep the look fresh and the content complete and accurate. Read more.