Ag News

ASFMRA AgNews - March 5, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 03-04-2019 12:51


Land Values Remain Fairly Stable

Many agricultural experts and economists have been warning for the past few years that we could be headed for a significant correction in farm land values in the Midwest. Land value summaries showed that a reduction in average land values did occur in some regions of the U.S from 2014-16, including the Upper Midwest. Land values in the Midwest stabilized somewhat in in 2017, before showing some signs of decline in many areas in 2018. Most experts point to low commodity prices and reduced farm profitability as the primary reasons for recent decline in land values.

Read More on Value Stability

Fed Reserve Reports 2018 Farmland Values Steady

Farmland values in a major chunk of the ‘I’ states were steady overall in 2018.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported in its agricultural newsletter Feb. 14 for the Seventh Federal Reserve District that values for “good” agricultural land in the fourth quarter of 2018 were up 1 percent from the previous quarter, according to 183 survey responses.

The district includes the northern two-thirds of Illinois and Indiana, all of Iowa, Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin.

Illinois and Indiana saw no change in “good” farmland values from Jan. 1, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2019.

However, a 3 percent increase was noted in Indiana between Oct. 1, 2018, and Jan. 1, 2019, and Illinois was up 1 percent over that same period.

Iowa farmland was unchanged in the last quarter of 2018 and down 1 percent since Jan. 1, 2018.

Learn More on 2018 Values

Secretary Perdue Testifies Before Agriculture Committees

The Agriculture Committees kicked off the Congressional oversight of the 2018 farm bill’s implementation last week. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue made two trips to Capitol Hill to testify before the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. You can watch replays of the hearings by following the respective links.

This marked the first time that the Secretary has come before a congressional committee since Democrats took control of the House and it was the second time the Secretary has testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee since he was sworn in. The Secretary’s written testimony covers the state of the rural economy and USDA’s efforts to date to implement the 2018 farm bill. The Secretary also mentions in his written testimony that USDA stands ready to implement a second crop/ fire disaster bill should Congress provide one for 2018 hurricane and fire losses. Except for the introductory paragraph the written testimony is identical for both hearings.

While the Secretary’s written testimony provides no specific dates on when various provisions in the 2018 farm bill will be implemented, he did make some announcements following questions during the hearing. Specifically, by the end of April the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make dairy premium refunds from the Margin Protection Program (the old FSA dairy program) to dairy farmers. Dairy Margin Coverage Program (the new FSA dairy program) sign-ups will begin by mid-June. ARC and PLC enrollment will commence in September for the 2019 crop; and a CRP sign-up will be held in December of this year.

While several members touched on crop insurance, specifically hemp, few questions or comments focused on crop insurance as the 2018 farm bill did not make any significant changes to the program. The Secretary did say he expected hemp to be insurable for the 2020 crop. Both House and Senate Democrats did repeatedly query the Secretary about USDA’s proposed rule to change the Supplementation Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regarding benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents and voiced their strong opposition to the proposal.

FPAC Listening Session

Last week, the Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area held a public farm bill listening session in Washington D.C. Undersecretary Bill Northey kicked off the day-long session with some opening comments. Crop insurance was first on the agenda, followed by farm programs, dairy. FSA farm lending and NRCS conservation programs were on the agenda in the afternoon. You can watch a replay here. This is a listening session, so there are no responses from USDA staff to the issues raised by the speakers.

2019 SCO RMA Managers Bulletin

RMA issued MGR-19-03 last week outlining SCO eligibility for crop year 2019 in light of the fact that farmers will be making their 2019 ARC/PLC election with FSA well after sales closing dates. Recall, producers are ineligible for SCO on acres/ farms enrolled in ARC. The procedure for 2019 allows farmers with sales closing date 2/28 or earlier to cancel their SCO policy by 3/15 should they so desire.

It also requests farmers who purchase SCO for 2019 to file an acreage intention report by the later of the acreage reporting date or March 15, 2019. This report would adjust the acreage report by specifying the intended ARC or PLC election by FSA Farm Number. The number of eligible acres on farms with an intention of PLC will be the number of acres insured for SCO regardless of any actual elections made with FSA. If the producer does not file an ARC/PLC acreage intention report, then SCO will cover all acres as though the producer elected PLC.

Finally, the premium penalty outlined in section 4(b) of the SCO Endorsement will not apply.

Wheeler Confirmed as EPA Administrator

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was confirmed to fill the position of Administrator on Thursday on a party-line vote of 52-47. The confirmation received criticism from some Democrats and environmental groups due to Wheeler’s commitment to the rollback of environmental regulation overreach.

IRS Extends Filing Deadline for Farmers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Thursday it will waive the estimated tax penalty for any qualifying farmer or fisherman who files their 2018 federal income tax return and pays any tax due by April 15, 2019. For tax year 2018, an individual who received at least two-thirds of his or her total gross income from farming or fishing during either 2017 or 2018 qualifies as a farmer or fisherman. You can read the IRS bulletin here.

Economists Don't See Farm Crisis

As complaints about financial stress for farmers rise, some economists say the data doesn't show today's farm economy is in a crisis.

Joe Glauber, a former USDA chief economist, and Vincent Smith, an economics professor at Montana State University, co-authored an op-ed for Dow Jones news service that challenges the argument that American farmers are facing a crisis. Glauber and Smith are both visiting scholars at the American Enterprise Institute.

In the op-ed piece published Tuesday, Glauber and Smith challenged media portrayals of farmers struggling to make ends meet, stating: "The plight of American farmers always makes for good copy, even when the facts don't match the rhetoric. And when media reports suggest that farmers are about to face a financial crisis, based on one or two pieces of cherry-picked data, farm interest groups rush to Congress to ask for more subsidies, on top of the $20 billion a year already being given to crop growers."

What is the Data Showing?

U.S. Farm Debt Soars to Levels Seen During 1980s Farm Crisis: Agriculture Secretary

The amount of debt held by America’s farmers has risen rapidly to 1980s-levels at $409 billion from $385 billion last year, with loan demand remaining “historically high,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Wednesday.

The figures reflect a level of strain on the U.S. farm belt that is comparable to the agricultural crisis of three decades ago, this time driven by lingering weakness in commodity prices, storms damaging crops and loss of key export markets such as China due to President Donald Trump’s trade disputes.

See the Debt Comparisons

Hemp: Viable South Carolina Crop

Industrial hemp production could be a viable crop alternative for South Carolina farmers, according to Clemson Cooperative Extension crop and agribusiness agents.

Clemson officials teamed with industrial hemp industry associates for a session at the 2019 S.C. AgriBiz and Farm Expo in Florence about the state’s hemp crop. David DeWitt, Clemson Extension agent and agronomic crops program team member in Lee County, said interest in industrial hemp is increasing in the agricultural community.

Save the Date: Education Week in Omaha, NE will include a Valuing a Cannabis Operation class for Appraisers as well as an Alternative Strategies for Enhancing ROI session for farm managers and ag consultants, which will feature a session on hemp as an alternative crop to soybeans, corn and/or tobacco.

Is Hemp Viable in South Carolina?

How to Serve the Growing Hemp Market

The year of hemp jubilee has arrived, roughly 80 years after Uncle Sam locked the maligned cannabis variety in the federal attic. U.S. farmers can officially play the hemp game, so says the 2018 farm bill, and as of January 2019, 41 states have given hemp a green flag.
The spectrum of legal leeway is noteworthy, with Colorado at full commercialization, Kentucky running a close second, Minnesota allowing a relatively progressive policy and other states permitting various levels of production or research.

Is Hemp Just a Fad?

Rural Landowners Air Opposition to Industrial Wind Farms

When Tom Behrends purchased his farm east of Brewster in 1993, he envisioned peace and solitude on the prairie.

That’s no longer the case.

The serenity Behrends once enjoyed was invaded by steel behemoths, or noise generators as he calls them. They interrupt his view, the “whooshing” of the blades delivers a constant noise and shadow flicker is more than an occasional disruption.

Join us for Education Week in Omaha, NE which includes a Alternative Management Strategies for Enhancing ROI session, and will discuss wind farms on July 23.

Read Tom's Full Story

Agencies Plan for Water Rationing Under SGMA

Local groundwater regulatory agencies set up under 2014 legislation in California are discussing future rationing schemes with irrigators as they scramble to submit long-term aquifer sustainability plans to the state by a deadline of early next year.

The plans are required by January 2020 for the state’s 21 most critically overdrafted or important basins. Most of those basins are in the San Joaquin Valley, where surface water cutbacks in recent years led to an overreliance on wells.

What Is in Store for Water Cutbacks?

Corteva to Utilize DroneDeploy to Scout Seed Production, Customers' Fields

Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, announced today a global agreement with DroneDeploy to use DroneDeploy in its fleet of more than 400 DJI drones across the Company's global Seed Production and Supply Chain, as well as its Pioneer Strategic Account Management and Agronomy teams in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Europe. DroneDeploy is the market leader in commercial drone software and aerial site intelligence for the construction and agriculture sectors.

"This agreement fortifies Corteva Agriscience as a leader in the use of advanced UAV technology," said Jeremy Groeteke, Corteva Agriscience U.S. Digital Agriculture Lead. "The field intelligence technology will enable our Pioneer agronomy and strategic account management teams to work with farmers to provide real-time aerial views of their operation."

Learn More About the Technology

Plant-Based, Animal Protein Demand Shows No Sign of Letting Up

Farmers, ranchers, fisherman and the rest of agribusiness will try to satisfy dietary protein demands as the global population soars in number toward the nine billion the United Nations projects by 2040. With that steady increase comes rising incomes and, especially in developing countries, demand for more and more protein-laden foods.

How to meet the demand? Boundless possibilities emerge, butting up against the array of challenges of bringing protein foods to market — the shrinking bases of arable land base and fresh water, for example, plus climate change, concern about animal agriculture’s environment impacts, animal rights issues, and more.

How Farmers and Rancher Meet the Demand

Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) Publishes Fourth Exposure Draft

The Appraisal Standards Board, an independent board of The Appraisal Foundation, published the Fourth Exposure Draft of proposed changes for the 2020-21 edition of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) today. Among several important changes are eased reporting requirements for Appraisal Reports, and allowing multiple intended users in Restricted Appraisal Reports.
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