Congress to Vote on Tax Cut Package
Republicans have completed a conference process to iron out the differences between the House and Senate tax bills. House Ways and Means Chairman Brady released the conference report late last week. The House is set to vote on the package on Tuesday with the Senate to follow. The press is widely reporting that Republicans do have the votes to pass the bill in the Senate, a simple majority is required under special budget reconciliation rules. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.Explanatory StatementCBO Score
If you read the explanatory statement, it is laid out with a description of current law, House amendment, Senate amendment and then Conference provision. The House and Senate amendment descriptions are for information purposes only. The Conference bill is what Congress will be voting on.
Another Disaster Bill on the Way
A third disaster supplemental bill to respond to the Hurricanes that struck the U.S. this year and the ongoing California wildfires is also being considered by Congress. It is probable that the disaster package will be included in the end of year spending package. The bill will likely include some type of payments for Florida citrus growers along with changes to the standing livestock disaster programs to help alleviate livestock losses in Texas from flooding. The disaster package may also include changes for cotton, which could impact STAX sales in FY 2018. [Back to Top]
House Agriculture Committee Reveals New Farm Bill Landing Page
Last week the House Agriculture Committee announced the launch of a new website landing page dedicated to the 2018 Farm Bill. Following the launch, Chairman Conaway released the following statement, “I’m committed to completing a farm bill on time. We’ve spent the past three years preparing—holding 113 hearings and six listening sessions around the country. We recognize what’s at stake. We’re working on getting the policy right and will use this site as a resource as we advance the next farm bill.” The new resource can be located here. In coordination with the launch, the Committee also released “This is the Farm Bill,” the first in a series of videos.[Back to Top]
Government Funding Expires December 22nd
Congress extended the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government through December 22nd. The previous CR, which had been in effect since October 1st, expired on December 8th. Because Congress has not completed the twelve-annual fiscal year appropriation bills for FY 2018 that fund the government, the CR was necessary to avoid a government shutdown.
Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders met with President Trump to try to reach an agreement on overall FY 2018 spending. Because the appropriation bills require 60 votes in the Senate to move forward, a bi-partisan agreement is needed. To date no agreement has been reached. After voting on the tax bill, Congress needs to address funding the government by Friday or face a government shutdown.[Back to Top]
Changes to Crop Insurance Policy Could Increase Farmer Flexibility
USDA Risk Management Agency announced Nov. 28 changes to its crop insurance policies. Major changes for 2018 focus on conservation compliance certification and choice of unit structure based on the risk management needs of producers.
“Every producer’s situation is unique. At RMA we want to ensure the policies we provide are flexible enough so that producers are getting the most effective and efficient coverage. Ensuring producers have the right coverage helps to strengthen the farm safety net,” said Heather Manzano, RMA Acting Administrator.
To offer producers increased flexibility, RMA has removed the June 1 certification deadline date from the conservation compliance provisions and will instead refer to the premium billing date. This will allow the conservation compliance certification process for crop insurance to be administered more consistently with the way it is administered for other USDA programs. RMA is also increasing the flexibility of its services by allowing a policyholder to select different unit structures by practice for either irrigated or nonirrigated practices. Policyholders may now choose an enterprise unit for one practice and the most appropriate unit structure on the other practice, be it a separate enterprise unit or optional or basic units.Read More[Back to Top]
How Interest Rate Hike Could Impact Agriculture, Land, Collateral
At the last meeting of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, the Fed voted to increase interest rates 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent. That number is expected to climb in 2018, but there’s no inkling of what it could be.
It’s no secret the ag economy has been struggling. Bob Utterback, president of Utterback Marketing, says when it comes to land values, they are inversely related to interest rates: when interest rates increase, land values feel the pressure.
He is concerned that if the President Trump’s tax reform passes and doesn’t have a way for farmers to write off interest rates on land, that could have a “detrimental impact.”Learn More[Back to Top]
Farm Bill Timeline Slips into the New Year
Almost as soon as the 2014 farm law took effect, lawmakers and farm groups said the next farm bill would make refinements – mostly on ARC, PLC, cotton, and dairy – rather than sweeping changes. Nonetheless, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees may find it daunting to fine-tune the farm bill when there is no additional money for it.
House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway says the House could debate the 2018 farm bill as early as January or February, meaning that farm-state lawmakers “are going to have some hard decisions to make” in coming weeks. Ag lobbyists are skeptical, saying Congress rarely makes a flying start when it convenes for the new year. The time line for the farm bill has slipped already. Conaway and Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts spoke optimistically of moving the bill this year, but health care, tax cuts, and budget fights precluded that.
By one estimate, the ag committees would need $15 billion a year to honor requests to double ag research spending, restore cuts in conservation programs, expand cotton and dairy supports, realign the county yields used in determining ARC subsidies, institute higher reference prices for PLC payments, and reallocate base acres. Some 340 people spoke at listening sessions around the country last summer, and “not one of them asked for less money,” says Conaway.Read More[Back to Top]
Recent USDA-ERS Reports: Farm Structure (2017), and Evolving Distribution of Government Farm Payments (1991-2015)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has recently released two separate reports that provide interesting perspective on the structure of U.S. agriculture. The first provides a detailed overview of current statistics relating to U.S. farms, while the second highlights the evolving distribution of Federal farm payments (1991-2015). This update underscores key findings from the two recent ERS reports.
Farm Structure- “America’s Diverse Family Farms, 2017 Edition”
On Friday, ERS released a report titled, “America’s Diverse Family Farms, 2017 Edition,” which provided “an overview of U.S. farms, including the latest statistics on production, financial performance, and farm household characteristics by farm size categories.”Learn More[Back to Top]
Jeffrey L. Sutton
Idaho Falls, ID
ASFMRA has just learned that Jeffrey L. Sutton passed away on May 21, 2017. The Society was honored to welcome Jeff into the membership in 1999 as an Associate member. He was active with the Idaho-Utah Chapter serving as the Idaho-Utah Chapter President Elect, Director on the Board of Directors, and as the Chapter President. Jeff made many friends through his association with ASFMRA. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Learn More About Jeff’s Life[Back to Top]
Appraiser Qualifications Board Q&As December 2017
The Appraiser Qualifications Board has issued new Q&As on the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria. View the December 2017 Q&As[Back to Top]
Appraiser Qualifications Board Public Meeting
Washington, DC - February 1, 2018
9:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) will conduct a Public Meeting on February 1, 2018, in Washington, DC, where input will be solicited on the Fourth Exposure Draft of Proposed Changes to the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria. For the first time, the AQB will also be live streaming the meeting. All are encouraged to attend the meeting in person or watch remotely via live stream.Register To Attend in PersonRegister to Live Stream the Meeting Remotely[Back to Top]