ASFMRA AgNews - Vol. 13 Issue XIV [April 3, 2018]

By ASFMRA Press posted 04-03-2018 09:08

FY 2018 Appropriations Finally Completed

Even though Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 started on October 1, 2017, Congress just completed, and President Trump signed, the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill in late March. The $1.3 trillion spending bill funds the government through the end of September 2018. The bill passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support (256 – 167 and 65 – 32, respectively, see roll call links below).

The omnibus bill contains no provisions detrimental to crop insurance, commodity, or conservation programs. The bill formerly authorizes the reorganization of USDA proposed by the Trump Administration with the creation of the office of Undersecretary of Farm, Production and Conservation (FPAC). Bill Northey is the Undersecretary of FPAC and has oversight over RMA, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

There are a host of other agricultural provisions that normally are not contained in an appropriations bill. The 199A tax provision was amended so that it no longer incentivizes sales to cooperatives. The change is retroactive to January 1, 2018. The omnibus bill includes language that exempts air emissions from animal waste from the reporting requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The bill also contains a prohibition on funding to implement regulations requiring livestock haulers to install electronic logging devices (ELDs). The omnibus bill exempts farmers from having to obtain SAMS and DUNS numbers when enrolling in USDA cost-share conservation programs administered by FSA and NRCS. An extension of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) is included as well as a pilot program, funded at $5 million, to mitigate county ARC payment discrepancies.

See How Your Representative Voted
See How Your Senators Voted

More News:

The Case For Farmland Investments

Last Friday's podcast featured an interesting discussion on farmland, an asset class we do not spend a lot of time talking about but one that could make an interesting allocation for those expecting a pickup in inflation.

The two guests from the show invest in farmland in very separate structures - one was Paul Pittman, the CEO and founder of a public farmland real estate investment trust called Farmland Partners, and the other was Brandon Zick, who oversees land acquisitions for Ceres Partners, a private real estate fund.

Lack of Institutional Investment in Farmland: Both Pittman and Zick emphasized how farmland remains a very scattered and noninstitutionalized market - meaning most of the asset owners are farmers themselves. Only 2% of farms are owned by institutional investment funds like the ones Zick and Pittman operate, and that creates inefficiencies and opportunities to add value, in their opinion.

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Congress in Two Week Recess

Congress is not in session this week or last week. Staff level work on the next farm bill will continue by both House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff during this period but I anticipate no major news announcements on the farm bill until Congress returns in April.

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Mississippi Governor Chooses Agriculture Commissioner to Fill Senator Cochran’s Seat

Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced his retirement from the Senate effective April 1, 2018 due to health reasons. Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant has chosen Cindy Hyde-Smith, the state’s commissioner of agriculture and commerce, to succeed him. Chris McDaniel, who attempted to unseat Cochran, is expected to run against Hyde-Smith, a former Democrat, in the November election, and former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy has declared he is running for the Democratic nomination for the seat. Hyde-Smith will be the first female senator from Mississippi.

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California Farmland Values Decline in 2017

California agricultural land sales values were mostly softer in 2017 as the gap narrowed between highs and lows commanded for some properties.

This year’s much-anticipated annual trends report, published by the California chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, showed some highs — wine grape properties in Napa, for instance — and some predictable lows as dairy values declined to levels not seen since 2000. In all, says Janie Gatzman, agricultural appraiser with Gatzman Appraisal in Oakdale, there were no surprises in this year’s report.

Perhaps the most interesting thing she saw when studying 2017 data was the relative concern over irrigation water around the state. While Sacramento Valley buyers and sellers were largely ambivalent to state water regulations and issues centered around the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), such was not the case in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and Central Coast, where those issues tended to drive land values.

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Goodbye, Kansas Wheat?

Kansas throughout the 20th century became known as the breadbasket of the world, since it was the biggest wheat-growing state in the biggest wheat-exporting country.

It maintained that moniker through most of the 1900s and even into the 2000s. To this day, it’s still known for its production of the grain used in everything from bread to doughnuts to livestock feed.

Because of low prices due, in part, to increased world production, the number of acres of winter wheat varieties grown in the U.S. is the lowest in 99 years. Reduced profitability is driving farmers out or leading them to plant more lucrative row crops such as corn or sorghum.

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China Hammers U.S. Goods with Tariffs as "Sparks" of Trade War Fly

BEIJING, April 2 (Reuters) - China has increased tariffs by up to 25% on 128 U.S. products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, escalating a dispute between the world’s biggest economies in response to U.S. duties on imports of aluminum and steel.

The tariffs, to take effect on Monday, were announced late on Sunday by China’s finance ministry and matched a list of possible tariffs on up to $3 billion in U.S. goods published by China on March 23.

Soon after the announcement, an editorial in the widely read Global Times newspaper warned that if the U.S. had thought China would not retaliate or would only take symbolic counter-measures, it could “say goodbye to that delusion.”

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New Mobile App Helps Corn Farmers Identify Ear Rot, Mycotoxins

“Mycotoxins,” a mobile app developed by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, can help corn growers spot dangerous mycotoxin issues and learn what to do about them.

The free, informational mobile app is intended for use by corn growers, crop consultants, county Extension agents and others in crop production and seed industries, said Burt Bluhm, associate professor of plant pathology for the Division of Agriculture. It was developed as a collaboration between the division’s department of plant pathology and the department of botany and plant pathology at Purdue University.

Mycotoxins like aflatoxin are dangerous health risks to human and animal consumers, Bluhm said, and under strict health regulations, they can cause huge economic losses for corn growers.

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Economist: Korea Trade Agreement a Sigh of Relief for Ag

That the U.S. negotiated a new free trade agreement with South Korea without affecting agriculture amounts to “the dog that did not bark,” University of California-Davis agricultural economist Daniel Sumner says.

Agriculture was ubiquitously absent from the deal announced March 28 by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Korean Minister for Trade Hyun Chong Kim, which addressed issues related to automobiles, pharmaceuticals, currency and textiles.

That means the benefits to ag from the original 2012 agreement remain intact, notes Sumner, director of the university’s Agricultural Issues Center.

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ASB Issues Discussion Draft of Potential Areas of Change to the 2020-21 USPAP

The Appraisal Standards Board issued a Discussion Draft of Potential Areas of Change for the 2020-21 Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The Draft explores several topics, including Reporting Options (Appraisal Report and Restricted Appraisal Report), the SCOPE OF WORK RULE, Comments in Standards Rules, and DEFINITIONS.

Submit your written comments to by April 6, 2018.

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Appraisal Standards Board Q&A March 2018Appraisal Standards Board Q&A March 2018

The Appraisal Standards Board has issued new Q&As for March 2018:

• Employing an Extraordinary Assumption When a Client Provides Inspection Data
• Signing and Labeling of Supplemental Certifications

To view all ASB Q&As, please visit the Standards & Qualifications Q&A Page.
Questions? Please contact: Aida Dedajic, Standards Board Program Manager, at

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