ASFMRA AgNews - Vol.13 Issue XXV [June 19, 2018]

By ASFMRA Press posted 06-19-2018 08:01


Senate Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill, Possible Floor Action This Week

Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the 2018 farm bill out of Committee by a vote of 20-1. Senator Grassley (R-IA) was the lone dissenter. He would like to see tighter restrictions regarding who qualifies for farm payments (actively engaged definition) and did not offer his amendment during Committee mark-up to restrict payments but promised to offer it during Senate floor consideration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attended the mark-up to discuss and defend his language regarding the cultivation of hemp. He is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Senate Leader said that he expects the farm bill to be on the Senate floor for consideration prior to the July 4th recess which starts on June 29th. Senate Agriculture Committee staff said late last week that the farm bill could be on the Senate floor as early as mid-week this week.

Of the nearly 200 amendments filed prior to Committee mark-up, over 60 amendments were adopted without debate in an en-bloc manager’s amendment during mark-up. None of the amendments significantly changed the Commodity title. Four of the amendments were related to crop insurance. None of them are controversial. They are:

  • Senator Boozman (R-AR) – an amendment to direct the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to conduct research and development on alternate wetting and drying and furrow irrigated rice practices.
  • Senator Brown (D-OH) – an amend to expand the malting barley endorsement.
  • Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) – an amendment to allow RMA to consider separate stages of development as different commodities under Whole Farm Revenue policies.
  • Senator Hyde-Smith (R-MS) – an amendment that directs the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to carry out research and development to provide a less cost-prohibitive policy for producers within the Batture land in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. 

During mark-up Senator Klobuchar (D-MN), along with Senator Thune (R-SD) offered an amendment to expand the current Sodsaver provision, which is only applicable to the Prairie Pothole Region, to additional States if the Governor of the State requests it. That amendment passed on a voice vote.

Additionally, Senator Hoeven (R-ND) had 3 amendments adopted in the en-bloc process that address wetland determinations. Those amendments seek to address the backlog of wetland determinations by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in the Dakotas.

The Committee bill and the amendments adopted during mark-up can be found here. You can watch the video archive of the mark-up here.

More News:

Today's Land Values Tell a Tale of Two Markets

Buyers of agricultural land are wondering if now is a good time to make a purchase, while at the same point in the market, sellers are asking if they should sell. Are land values still trending down or have they bottomed and higher prices are on the horizon?

Individual landowners and investors are both scratching their heads as to the current land market and where it might go. It is as if there are two land markets: one that says it is a good time to sell and one that indicates that it is time to invest in land.

The underlying strength in values of good quality farm and ranch land is supported by a number of factors. Number one is the fact that there is currently less land for sale on the market than normal. For example, in 2017 in Iowa, approximately two-thirds of one percent of ag land sold in the open market, which is less than the average 1 percent that sells per year. Even though the Iowa land market was slow last year, Farmers National Company sold 20 percent of the land in the state that was sold through a brokerage firm.

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Possible House Vote on House Farm Bill, H.R. 2, This Week

The House may vote on the motion to reconsider H.R. 2, the House farm bill, this week. A vote on immigration legislation is scheduled for later this week in the House. Recall, Freedom Caucus members of the House said they would not vote for the House farm bill until the House considered immigration legislation. Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters last week that he would switch his vote and vote for the House farm bill once an immigration bill vote occurred. The House farm bill failed when it only garnered 198 votes for, with 30 Republicans voting “no”. With the current level of vacancies in the House, 215 “aye” votes are needed to pass it.
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Court Suspends WOTUS Rule In 11 More States

A federal district court ruling has effectively suspended the 2015 Waters Of The U.S. (WOTUS) rule in 11 more states, bringing the total to 24 states.

According to Don Parish, senior director of regulatory relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), disputes over jurisdiction have slowed appeals.

“Initially, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put a nationwide stay in place,” he says. “But, because the Supreme Court ruled that the proper courts to review this case is not the circuit court, but the district court, we’re having to relitigate these injunctions all over again.”

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‘Cow Fitbits’ and Artificial Intelligence are Coming to the Dairy Farm. But Some Farmers Aren’t so Impressed.

WAYNESBORO, Ga. — In the two months since Richard Watson strapped 200 remote-control-sized transmitters around his cows’ necks, an artificial-intelligence system named Ida has pinged his phone with helpful alerts: when his cows are chewing the cud, when they’re feeling sick, when they’re ready for insemination.

“There may be 10 animals out there that have a real problem, but could you pick them?” he said one morning, standing among a grazing herd of dairy cattle wearing what he calls “cow Fitbits.”

But on neighboring pastures here in rural Georgia, other farmers say they aren’t that impressed. When a cow’s in heat, they know she’ll start getting mounted by her bovine sisters, so they apply a streak of paint on the cows’ backsides and then just look for the incriminating smudge. No fancy AI required.

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Farm Sector Fears Large Losses From Mounting Trade Conflict

The Farm Belt will get walloped if China retaliates in equal measure against Washington’s $50 billion in announced tariffs on Chinese goods, said economists at Midwestern universities. Ohio State researchers said farmers in the Buckeye State could see a 50% drop in farm income, while Iowa State’s Chad Hart said producers in the Hawkeye State could lose up to $624 million this year, depending on how long the tariffs are in place and if other customers are found.

China is the largest market for U.S. ag exports, which generate 20¢ of each $1 in farm income. The Trump administration announced 25% tariffs on $50 billion of high-tech Chinese products, with duties coming into effect on July 6 for a tranche of $34 billion in goods. Beijing responded with a target list of the same size, also taking effect on July 6 and which included soybeans, salmon, orange juice, and whiskey along with electric cars.

Analysts say China picks trade targets for maximum political impact while minimizing discomfort to its citizens. Soybeans are, by far, the largest U.S. farm export to China, but Brazil is its leading supplier. Along with the tariffs, the Chinese Commerce Ministry also said a recent offer to buy billions more of U.S. goods, including farm exports, was off the table.

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Sale Prices for 17 States Show Tight Farmland Market

High-quality farmland prices are staying firm or trending slightly higher, according to the semiannual market update from Farmers National Company (FNC).

Comparing June 2018 to June 2017, sales prices for high-quality farmland increased in seven of the 17 states, and prices were same in four. The remaining three states—Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma—each showed a small year-over-year decrease. View a PDF of the report data.

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Ag Economic Outlook As Presented to the Farm Credit Administration

The Farm Credit Administration board today received a quarterly report on economic issues affecting agriculture, together with an update on the financial condition and performance of the Farm Credit System as of March 31, 2018.

The report discussed USDA's first price outlook for corn, soybeans, and wheat for the 2018 - 2019 marketing year and the implications for both the crop and protein sectors.

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Pruitt Talks WOTUS, E15 and Sorghum Oil

In the last couple weeks, it's been hard to not read EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's name in national news headlines. However, for farmers, agribusinesses and ag organizations in the Midwest, there are more pressing topics at hand than scandals relating to the use of taxpayer money — and those pressing topics include the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule and biofuel mandates.

On June 14, in a recent stop on his tour of the Heartland at Nebraska Farm Bureau headquarters in Lincoln, Pruitt visited with a roundtable discussion with state officials and members of Common Sense Nebraska — a coalition of ag organizations and other stakeholders united in opposition to the WOTUS rule.

For members of the coalition, Pruitt delivered some welcome news that on June 15, EPA would send a proposed "Step 2" rule to redefine "Waters of the U.S." to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.

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Committee Volunteers Needed

Looking to give back to ASFMRA? Volunteer to serve on a committee today!  ASFMRA is always looking for dedicated members to help guide the organization forward through volunteering their time and talents.

Interested in learning more? Fill out a Committee Application and return it to Hope Evans to get started!
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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!

New Members
Tina Bailey with Bailey Appraisal Service, LLP in Monticello, AR (Mid-South Chapter)
Robert Coker, Jr. with Sartain’s Heritage Properties in Yazoo City, MS (Mid-South Chapter)
Kristin Horstmann with Compeer Financial in St. Cloud, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
David Hoskins with Farm Credit of Western Arkansas in Huntsville, AR (Mid-South Chapter)
Craig Springmier with Halderman Farm Management Services, Inc. in Eaton, OH (Ohio Chapter)
Lucus Von Esh with Lucus Mason, Inc. in Alpharetta, GA (Georgia Chapter)
Mindy Wolf with Cornerstone Bank in York, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
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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!

Timothy Harpster, ARA
Tim Pepper, ARA
Zachary Suddarth
Jim Wiedeman

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

You, the members, Chapters, companies, and sponsors have always been great in supporting the Education Foundation’s annual fundraising event – the Auction! Now is the time to make your donation for this year’s Auction in Chandler, Arizona. Consider donating items representative of your area, what is unique in your part of the country. There is nothing too small or too big. The funds raised at the Auction make the development of new education, rewrites of course material, support the Leadership Institute, and much more possible. Make your tax-deductible donation to the 2018 Auction today - simply complete the Auction Donation form and return it to Hope Evans ( you have any questions concerning donations, contact Hope Evans directly at: (303) 692-1216. THANK YOU for your generous donations and continued support.
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