ASFMRA AgNews - Vol. 13 Issue XLXIII [December 18, 2018]

By ASFMRA Press posted 12-18-2018 11:08


Farm Bill Passed

As many of you already know, the Senate and House passed the 2018 farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, overwhelmingly last week. The measure now moves to President Trump for his signature. He has indicated he will sign it, possibly this week. The Senate voted 87-13 last Tuesday and the House  followed with a 369-47 vote last Wednesday.  Follow the links to see how your Senators and Representative voted.

The bill allows offers producers a new choice between ARC and PLC on a crop‐by‐crop and farm‐by‐farm basis, applied jointly to the 2019 and 2020 crop years.  Beginning in crop year 2021, producers will have the flexibility to make an annual decision between
ARC and PLC on a crop‐by‐crop and farm‐by‐farm basis. The conference report contains no major cuts, caps or means-test of the crop insurance program.  Conservation programs are largely kept intact. The Conservation Stewardship program (CSP) becomes somewhat smaller, with the decrease in funding reallocated to EQIP, ACEP and RCPP.  Read the full summary.

WOTUS Definition Changed

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to change the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. The new rule would generally return the reach of the Clean Water Act to its more traditional bounds, largely codifying the majority Supreme Court opinions in United States v. Riverside Bayview, SWANCC v. Army Corps of Engineers, and Justice Scalia’s plurality opinion in Rapanos v. United States. Most likely this recent action by the EPA will end up in the courts.  Read the rule.

Partial Government Shutdown Looms

Congress and the Administration have until Friday to fund significant portions of the government, including the Department of Agriculture.  Currently, the Administration is at an impasse over border wall funding, seeking at least $5 billion for a border wall and Democrats only willing to provide $1.3 billion.  During the last shutdown, most of USDA did not report to work and major functions of USDA were closed. Assuming the second tranche of trade aid payments (MFP) is announced, the payments could be impacted by a shutdown.

Senator Durbin to Join Senate Agriculture Committee

With Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) not returning to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Durbin (D-IL) has announced he will join the Committee for the next session of Congress. Senator Durbin is up for re-election in 2020.  Senate Republicans have not announced committee assignments for the next session, nor have House Republicans or Democrats.

Hemp Industry Expected to Blossom Under New Farm Bill

The U.S. hemp industry is expecting business to expand and investors to beckon after Congress on Wednesday passed farm legislation that included a provision to legalize and regulate the plant under the Department of Agriculture.“This is a monumental bill for hemp farming,” said Lauren Stansbury of the Hemp Industries Association. The bill, awaiting President Trump’s signature, opens the door to state-by-state regulation, removes hemp, which is part of the cannabis plant family, from the federal enforcement of outlaw drugs and gives hemp farmers access to banking, crop insurance and federal grants, experts said.

That could open the industry, which produces therapeutic cannabidiol (CBD), fabric, rope and even ethanol, to a wave of investment. “This is a cultural shift,” said Bomi Joseph, creator of CBD product ImmunAG. “CBD is going to explode. I think the market is going to triple in size.” Cannabidiol has been touted as an elixir that can do everything from cure cancer to tame menstrual cramps, but so far the U.S. Food and Drug administration has only approved a specific formulation of CBD to treat seizures associated with rare forms of epilepsy.

The bill “puts forth a whole-plant definition of hemp including extracts,” said Stansbury of the Hemp Industries Association. “We’re not just talking stalk or flower. Any product derived from hemp is a legal consumer product.”  But for now at least the FDA could stand in the way.

Read more.

ISU Survey Shows Several Factors Led to Small Drop in Farmland Values

The new Iowa State University Land Value Survey released today shows a small drop in land values. Iowa State University economist Wendong Zhang says values dropped just under one percent (.08). He says that puts the average value of an acre of land in the state at to $7,264. That’s $62 an acre less than last year’s survey. Zhang says farmland prices peaked in 2013 at $8.716 an acre.

“For the last five years we have seen four declines — despite last year in 2017 there was a two percent increase — we have seen a steady decline off the peak,” Zhang says. Zhang says he has been asked repeatedly in the last five years if there is a concern about another collapse in values like we saw in the 1980’s. He says he is not concerned.

Read more. 

Determining Ag Data Needs for the Future

Companies are generating a lot of information and putting it to work. What's next? The world of big data gets a lot of attention in agriculture, with the promise of smart programming that takes all the information gathered on the farm and turns it into advice, or other information, you can use. And the market is starting to see that with tools for seed selection, but that’s only a start. Farm Progress talked with James Swanson and Michael Stern recently about the future of digital farming, and learned a bit about what’s ahead — as well as what’s needed for information to be even more complete. Swanson is the chief information officer of the Bayer Crop Science Division; Stern is head of digital farming, Climate Corporation.

Read more. 

Appraisal Standards Board Proposes Changes

The Appraisal Standards Board has published the Third Exposure Draft of proposed changes for the 2020-2021 edition of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The draft proposes a reporting model that reduces specificity without diminishing USPAP reporting requitements. The Appraisal Standards Board is seeking your comments and opinions. You can learn more about the proposed changes at their upcoming webinar.

2019 Outlook: Ag Technology

Yield monitoring and precision ag technology have been on the farm for almost three decades. However, many industry voices say there are still huge strides to be gained in maximizing today’s technology as well as the gains that will come from future technologies used on the farm. “Agriculture needs technology, but technology needs agriculture because it can showcase the opportunities of technology,” said Josh Henretig, senior director of Microsoft’s AI For Earth at the 2018 Farm Journal AgTech Expo. According to AgFunder, in 2017 there was $2.6 billion invested in agtech.

Read more. 

Economists See Challenges Ahead for Farmers

Iowa State University economists see substantial challenges ahead in forecasts for farmers in Iowa. With growth in both soybean and livestock production over the last few years, they say that Iowa will need to rely more on exports to make its living on pork and soybeans—particularly to China, the country with perhaps the strongest taste for the products in the middle of trade escalations riddled with tariffs.

As farmers hold their breath for the results of the trade war that has seen tit-for-tat tariffs between the U.S. and China, one sign came on the direction things are going. It may be a good one.  On Wednesday, Chinese state-owned companies bought at least $180 million in soybeans, over 1.5 million metric tons, after an extended period of refused shipments. American soybean farmers may be able to take it as a breath of some relief for their record harvest this year that has been sitting in silos across the Midwest. Dr. Lee Schulz says the growth in livestock production likely isn’t over yet, seeing increased production to the tune of about 6 percent.

Learn more. 

Indigo Ag Acquires TellusLabs

Indigo Ag, Inc. has acquired TellusLabs, a two-year-old start-up that uses satellite imagery to develop ag insights. The addition of the platform will expand the scope and precision of Indigo Ag’s data insights and recommendation platform.

“At Indigo, we are always looking to expand and improve our offering to growers,” says David Perry, Indigo’s CEO. “TellusLabs’ technology will bolster our effort to produce rigorous and useful agronomic recommendations tailored to each acre of a farm. And the team behind the technology is fundamentally aligned to our mission.”

Founded by David Potere and Mark Friedl, TellusLabs has developed a living map of the world’s food supply, tracing farm management decisions and agronomic parameters in real time, including field boundaries, crop type, planting and harvest dates, and overall crop performance.

Learn more about this innovation.

Welcome New Members!!

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!

Shuhong Chang in Plano, TX (Texas Chapter)
Tyler Dohlman in Chester, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Landon Foster in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Tyler Geiger in Deep River, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Chris Grebner in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Madison Howard in Buckingham, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Trevor Maiers in Ames, IA (Illinois Chapter)
Brant McKibben in Marshalltown, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Morrigan Miller in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Mark Nyentap in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Sloan Reighard in Richland, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Ashley Uthe in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Taylor Westhoff in Pulaski, IA (Iowa Chapter)