ASFMRA AgNews Vol.13 Issue XIX [May 8, 2018]

By ASFMRA Press posted 05-08-2018 08:34


ASC Denies TriStar Waiver Request

The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) unanimously rejected, by voice vote, a temporary waiver request from TriStar Bank of Dickson, TN, during a special meeting April 23 in Washington. ASFMRA President David GaNun, ARA had provided comments to the ASC urging the subcommittee to reject the waiver request from TriStar Bank. The Committee determined that no appraiser shortage existed in the area, nor that appraisals were untimely prepared during the time period submitted by Tristar Bank in its waiver request.

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ASFMRA Joins 64 Other Organizations Urging No Cuts to Crop Insurance

With the House expected to take up the farm bill on the House floor as early as the week of May 14th, ASFMRA joined 64 other organizations to urge the House to oppose harmful amendments to crop insurance, including those that would:
1) reduce or limit participation in crop insurance
2) make insurance more expensive for farmers during a time of economic downturn in agriculture
3) harm private-sector delivery.

Read the Letter
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House to Take Up Senate Bill S. 2155?

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling has stated that he is considering passage of S. 2155 without changes, which would mean no conference committee would be required between the House and Senate. S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act would make changes to Dodd/ Frank provisions, providing some regulatory relief. The bill passed the Senate in March of this year. ASFMRA has been closely watching S. 2155 as it does contain a provision, section 103, that establishes a new process to allow for appraisal waivers for FRT of less than $400,000.

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Preparing for House Farm Bill Floor Debate

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway is diligently working behind the scenes to prepare for the upcoming House floor debate over the farm bill (HR 2). With Democrats opposed, due largely to policy changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Chairman Conaway will need 218 Republican votes to pass HR 2. He has been meeting with non-Agriculture Committee Republican members individually. Since the House was in recess last week, Republicans will continue to whip the farm bill this week when they are back in Washington. If it appears that they will have sufficient votes, House Leaders could bring the farm bill to the House floor the week of May 14th.
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USDA Announces Disaster Payment Provisions

Last week Secretary Perdue announced additional details regarding the 2017 ad hoc disaster program. USDA is calling the disaster program the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program or WHIP. Sign-up for the program is expected to start in July. In addition to USDA WHIP payments, USDA will provide $340 million through a block grant to the State of Florida for Hurricane Irma losses to citrus production expected during the 2018 through the 2020 crop year, reimbursement for the cost of buying and planting replacement trees – including resetting and grove rehabilitation, and for repair of damages to irrigation systems among other things.

WHIP payments will be based on the following formula: Payment = Expected Value of the Crop x WHIP Factor - Value of Crop Harvested - Insurance Indemnity
The WHIP factor ranges from 65 percent to 95 percent. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2017 will receive a 65 percent WHIP Factor. Insured producers, or producers who had NAP, will receive between 70 percent and 95 percent WHIP Factors; those purchasing higher levels of coverage will receive higher WHIP Factors.

Producers who certify to an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least 75 percent derived from farming or ranching, including other agriculture and forestry-based businesses during the tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015, will be eligible for a $900,000 payment limitation with verification. All other producers requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a $125,000 payment limitation.

Finally, all producers opting to receive 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance at the 60% coverage level, or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) at the 60% buy up coverage level if crop insurance is not available. Coverage must be in place for the next two applicable crop years.

Read the USDA Announcement
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House Republicans Will Pass Farm Bill on Their Own, Says Conaway

With Democrats solidly in opposition, House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway says he will canvass his Republican colleagues to make sure they will pass, as early as next week, a farm bill that toughens work requirements on SNAP recipients and loosens crop subsidy limits for farmers. Passage could require a repeat on the House floor of the party-line approval in committee on April 18 of the most partisan farm bill in years.

Republicans hold a 235-193 margin over Democrats but need a simple majority of 215 votes at present — because seven seats are vacant — to pass legislation, so they cannot afford more than a handful of defections. A band of conservative groups, including Heritage Action and Club for Growth, say Conaway’s bill is an unacceptable mix of cronyism, waste, and dependence-inducing farm subsidies. Two members of the House Freedom Caucus, which has three dozen members, plan to offer an amendment to cut federal spending on crop insurance by one third.

The farm bill would spend $87 billion a year, three fourths of it on SNAP.

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Napa Winegrape Values up Almost 3 percent in 2017

A 3 percent hike in overall winegrape values in Napa County last year to nearly $751 million pushed agricultural values to a record $757.1 million, according to the latest crop report. The boost in value comes amidst a 7 percent decline in the county’s grape crush that was attributed to record rain, extreme heat and devastating wildfires.

Napa’s winegrape values remain in a league all their own as nowhere in California do wineries pay more for grapes.

Growers farm nearly 34,000 acres of red winegrapes and just under 10,000 acres of white varieties in the county. Harvested tons at the end of last season, according to the annual crop report, came in at over 142,000, a decline from the 153,000 tons harvested in 2016.

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Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer Drops 10 points in April 2018

The Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer fell 10 points to 125 in April. The sharp drop in the ag producer sentiment index, which is based upon a monthly a survey of 400 agricultural producers from across the U.S., was attributable to producers’ weakening perceptions of current conditions in the production agriculture sector, along with a decline in their expectations for future economic conditions.

The Index of Current Conditions fell to 123, 11 points lower than in March, and the Index of Future Expectations declined 9 points to 126. Both the Ag Economy Barometer and the Index of Future Expectations hit their lowest readings since March 2017 and the Index of Current Conditions was at its lowest level since May 2017.

The undercurrent of concern expressed by producers in March became more pronounced in April as the trade dispute with key export customer China continued. In February 2018, when asked to look ahead 5 years, 13% of producers said they expected agricultural exports to decline. When the same question was posed in April, the share of producers expecting lower exports increased to 17%.

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Bayer Announces Leadership Post Monsanto Merger

Liam Condon, president of Bayer’s Crop Science Division, has been tapped to lead the crop science executive leadership team of a new, merged company once the closing of Bayer’s acquisition of rival Monsanto is cleared by global regulators.

Two key leaders from Monsanto, CEO Hugh Grant and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robb Fraley, will leave the company shortly after the acquisition is completed. In a note to employees, Grant said eight members of the Monsanto leadership team representing more than 250 years of service will not transfer to Bayer.

“All of you have pushed our global team to do better, to see challenges as opportunities, to deliver innovation and keep our customers first,” Grant told Monsanto employees. “I’m proud of the path we have paved, and I know, together with Bayer, the company will continue to move modern agriculture forward. I will always be your biggest champion.”

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Nebraska Ag Land Values Fall 2.77 percent, the 2nd Straight Decline

Farmland values in Nebraska declined for the second straight year after a long run of increases.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue’s property assessment division issued a report Friday showing that agricultural land values dropped 2.77 percent. They fell 0.15 percent last year, the first decline in at least 25 years. Meanwhile, residential property values this year increased 5.4 percent, and commercial property values went up 6.94 percent.

Experts said farmland and ranchland property value chases the decline in the prices of corn, soybeans, beef and other commodities over the past few years.

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