President Trump Addresses Farm Bureau
Last week, President Trump spoke at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual convention in Nashville, TN. He is the first President to address the convention in 20 years. During his speech, President Trump focused on tax reform and deregulation and touched briefly on trade and the farm bill. As he discussed the farm bill, President Trump stated that he was looking forward to a strong bill, including crop insurance, being passed on time. The President called out Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) twice during his speech. Senator Roberts was in attendance and had accompanied the President on Air Force One to Nashville. Following the conclusion of his speech, the President signed two executive orders aimed at increasing broadband access in rural communities.Watch the Address
Two New Senators Seated
Two new Senators were sworn-in after the Senate returned to Washington D.C on January 3rd. Senator Jones (D-AL) who won the special election in Alabama in December and Senator Smith (D-MN) who replaced Senator Franken (D-MN) after his resignation. Smith, the former Lieutenant Minnesota Governor was appointed by the Minnesota Governor to the Senate. Senator Smith will serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, replacing Senator Van Hollen (D-MD) who remains in the Senate, but no longer is assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE) has also joined the Senate Agriculture Committee, replacing Senator Strange (R-AL). The Senate remains under Republican control with a 51 – 49 majority. [Back to Top]
The Farm Service Agency launches ARC Pilot Program
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has launched a pilot program that is designed to mitigate at least some of the county payment disparities inherent under the county based Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program. The pilot program was secured by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) in 2017 and will help ensure that ARC “payments to farmers are fair and reflect real-world yields," according to the Senator. This pilot program will give state FSA offices a role in ensuring accurate yield calculations, including fixing disparities between comparable counties which could help to lessen the payment disparities experienced by farmers enrolled in ARC. Through the pilot, the FSA has selected 14 counties across seven states (California, Florida, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas) that will receive additional support under ARC after reevaluating the method of determining county fields. FSA stated that it selected states and counties based on which faced weather related disasters. [Back to Top]
OIG Faults RMA Use of Data Mining
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report late December faulting RMA’s use of data mining. The OIG’s objective was to determine whether the results of the data mining performed under contract by Center for Agribusiness Excellence (CAE) are being utilized by RMA and AIPs to administer and enforce crop insurance program compliance and integrity initiatives.
The report contains 3 findings with RMA management recommendations responding to each finding. OIG found RMA needs to obtain better information from CAE, improve reviews of anomalous agents and loss adjusters with high loss claims, and validate RMA’s loss voidance methodology that it claims from spot checks.Read the Report [Back to Top]
Outlook for U.S. Farm Income: Stable but 'At Much Lower Levels'
After a three-year plunge, U.S. farm income is stabilizing “at much lower levels than in previous years,” said the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, warning that “growing inventories and trade uncertainty remain the key risks to the outlook.” In its periodic Ag Outlook report, the regional Fed said 2017 income was 18% below the long-term average.
“Longer-term projections for farm income were also expected to stabilize but at levels below the long-run average from 1970-2017,” wrote KC Fed economist Cortney Cowley. “Continued oversupply of agricultural products, especially crops, is a significant risk and would likely keep prices from rising to more profitable levels. International trade could help support agricultural prices and incomes, but uncertainty over trade deals has generated additional risk for the agricultural sector.”
Some 40% of the total value of U.S. crop production is exported, an increase from 29% in 2013, said the KC Fed. “Uncertainty surrounding NAFTA and other trade deals is a key risk to the agricultural outlook.”Learn More [Back to Top]
Farmland Prices Stabilized in 2017 but Still Fell in Nebraska and Other States
Average prices for high-quality farmland increased over the past year in seven leading agricultural states, held steady in seven others and declined in Nebraska and three others, an Omaha farm management company said.
Counting all crop and ranch land in the 18 states, including less-productive land, prices are down slightly but more stable than over the previous several years, said Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National Co.
“We think this is just kind of a stabilizing time,” Dickhut said Thursday. All things considered, he said, “I’d still say there’s a trend that it will soften more. We don’t think we’re done going down.”Read More [Back to Top]
Purdue/CME Group Ag Barometer Declines to 126 in December 2017
The Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer declined for the second month in a row in December, drifting to a reading of 126.
The Ag Economy Barometer is based on monthly survey responses provided by 400 agricultural producers from across the U.S. December’s barometer value was the lowest reading since March and the second-lowest reading of 2017.
The decline in the Ag Economy Barometer over the last two months was driven entirely by producers adopting a more pessimistic perspective regarding the future. The Ag Economy Barometer has two sub-indices, the Index of Future Expectations and the Index of Current Conditions, which provide insight into the drivers behind changes in barometer readings. December’s results revealed that producer optimism about the future declined sharply for the second month in a row. As recently as October, the Future Expectations index was at 137. The index fell to 127 in November and in December, dropped again to 120 –the lowest reading for the Index of Future Expectations since October 2016.
In sharp contrast to the increased pessimism about the future, producers have become more optimistic about current economic conditions in U.S. agriculture. The Index of Current Conditions, the barometer’s measure of producers’ short-run expectations, increased in December to 139 – the highest reading since July and the second-highest reading since data collection began in October 2015.Learn More [Back to Top]
U.S. Grain Companies Fear Harm From New Tax Law
CHICAGO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The new U.S. tax law is poised to drive more control over the nation’s grain supply to farmer-owned cooperatives, provoking concern among ethanol producers and privately run grain handlers that they could be squeezed out of the competition to buy crops.
Until now, the cooperatives, private companies, and publicly traded firms had a more even opportunity to handle the grain supply used in everything from loaves of bread in supermarkets to livestock feed.
The changes mean massive grain traders such as Archer Daniels Midland Co, Bunge Ltd, and Cargill Inc could find it difficult to source corn, soybeans, and wheat.Learn More [Back to Top]
McKinney Throws Down Canadian Trade Gauntlet
Think Sumo wrestlers circling. And circling. And circling. But not wrestling.
That’s the comparison Ted McKinney draws between the U.S. and Canada, as they discuss NAFTA from afar. Says McKinney, the USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, “There may be too much circling and not enough engaging. But that time’s coming to an end.”
McKinney, an Indiana native who stresses his love for Canadian friends, says Mexico’s elections in March present a hard deadline for renegotiating NAFTA.Learn More [Back to Top]
Trump Backs Crop Insurance, Says NAFTA 'Not the Easiest Negotiation'
Speaking to a friendly farm crowd, President Trump, who proposed a 36% cut in crop insurance funding last May, said he will work with Congress for a 2018 farm bill “that delivers for all of you, and I support a bill that includes crop insurance.
“On NAFTA, I am working very hard to get a better deal for our country and for our farmers and for our manufacturers,” said the president during a 35-minute speech to farmers and ranchers who attended Farm Bureau’s annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s not the easiest negotiation, but we’re going to make it fair for you people again.”
Farm groups and their allies in Congress are giving top priority to a strong crop insurance program in a farm bill that is expected to make few major changes in federal policy. The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee aims for House passage of a bill by spring. The 2014 farm law made the federally subsidized program the major U.S. farm support at around $8 billion a year, ahead of crop subsidies and land stewardship. Learn More [Back to Top]
ASFMRA has just learned of the passing of Dr. Richard Schoney. The Society was honored and pleased to welcome Dick into the membership in 2007. He maintained his membership in the Academic classification. He was a member of the Wisconsin Chapter. Dick passed away in August 2017. To learn more about Dick’s life, simply click here – Richard Schoney’s Life
. Dick made many friends through his association with ASFMRA who will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. [Back to Top]
Appraiser Qualifications Board Public Meeting
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.Webinar RegistrationIn Person Registration [Back to Top]
Wyoming Chapter Meeting
The Wyoming Chapter held a very successful meeting on Friday, January 11th in Casper Wyoming. In attendance along with chapter members were Brian Stockman, EVP and Paul Reisch, ARA, District VI Vice President. Special congratulations to Theo Hirshfeld, incoming chapter President, and President-Elect Emily Lucke. [Back to Top]