Ag News

ASFMRA AgNews - April 2, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 04-01-2019 12:24


Farmland Prices Reach Historic Highs in Upper Midwest

Farmland prices reach historic highs in Upper MidwestEighty-nine acres of farmland sold for $6,950 per acre in Brown County, 74 acres sold for $7,145 per acre in Martin County and 80 acres sold for $7,563 per acre in Sibley County — all in the span of a week in February in southwest Minnesota.

Farmland values leveled off after 2014, but acreage is still selling at historically high prices in the Upper Midwest. And that’s a good thing for Minnesota farmers, who endured their least profitable year in three decades in 2018 thanks to low grain, meat and milk prices, a trade war with China and bad weather.

Despite all the headwinds in agriculture, average land values in Minnesota rose 4.5 percent in 2018, according to data compiled at the University of Minnesota. Anecdotally, land prices haven’t dropped this year.

Discover the Record Highs.

USDA Urged to Speed-Up Dairy Implementation  

Both the House and Senate sent bipartisan letters to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue last week urging him to hasten efforts to implement the 2018 farm bill dairy provisions. The nearly identical letters, signed by 38 Senators and over 70 Representatives cite the continued loss of dairy farms, and the deficiencies of previous dairy programs and make the case that the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program will provide much-needed help if it can reach dairy farmers quickly enough. USDA had previously stated in testimony that it planned for DMC signup in June of this year.

The Farm Service Agency plans to launch outreach to dairy producers this month in an effort to bolster signup for the DMC program. The outreach effort will include an online decision tool to help producers decide what impact the program will have on their operations.

Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), the House Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman for Livestock and Foreign Agriculture plans to hold an oversight hearing later this month on whether the new dairy provisions are helping dairy farmers stay in business.

Senators Introduce Expanded Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Bill

Responding to increased farm bankruptcy filings, Senator Grassley (R-IA) along with Senators Klobuchar (D-MN), Johnson (R-WI), Leahy (D-VT), Tillis (R-NC), Jones (D-AL), Ernst (R-IA) and Smith (D-MN) introduced S. 897, the Family Farmer Relief Act, last week. The bill would raise the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million to allow more family farmers to seek Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief. The current limit is $4.2 million. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings are only available to family farms and under current law if the farm is seeking relief for more than $4.2 million, it must file under Chapter 11 which is more expensive and has fewer protections for the debtor. Dairy and corn operations have the most Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings recently.

USDA Announces Retroactive Dairy Enrollment for LGM-Dairy Insureds  

USDA announced late last week that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019. 

Producers enrolled in 2018 LGM-Dairy were ineligible for coverage under the FSA administered 2018 MPP-Dairy program per the 2014 farm bill. FSA has determined that the 2018 farm bill provides the ability for producers with LGM coverage to retroactively enroll in MPP-Dairy for 2018. This retroactive sign-up is only for dairy producers with 2018 LGM coverage who produced and commercially marketed milk in 2018 but did not obtain full year MPP-Dairy coverage. FSA will notify eligible producers by postcard and provide a one-time payment for all of the months in 2018 that had margins triggering MPP-Dairy assistance.  

Changes to the MPP-Dairy program administered by FSA, now called the new Dairy Margin Coverage program, begin with the 2019 calendar year.

ASFMRA Joins Coalition Letter Supporting Charitable Conservation Easement Reform

Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced H.R. 1992, the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act last week. ASFMRA joined 10 other organizations, including the Appraisal Institute supporting the bill. You can read the letter here.

Illinois Land Values on Steady Ground

You’ve heard it before: In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location.

But that perhaps has never meant as much as it does now.

“That’s what makes Illinois so interesting when it comes to land values is there are certain sectors of even counties that are vastly different when it comes to strength of market, competition and stuff like that,” said Luke Worrell of Worrell Land Services. “Precise geography probably has never played more of a factor than ever before, in my career, at least.” Worrell noted there are a lot of wind energy and solar energy companies throwing out big money to get people to sign up.

Read the Full Story.

Appraiser Qualifications Board Issues Discussion Draft About the Practical Applications of Real Estate Appraisal Concept

The Appraiser Qualifications Board, an independent board of The Appraisal Foundation, issued a Discussion Draft about the Practical Applications of Real Estate Appraisal (PAREA) concept. Unlike an exposure draft that provides detailed prescriptions, a discussion draft requests comments to key questions the AQB is considering. 

PAREA offers practical experience in a simulated environment using various technologies for trainees seeking to earn the minimum criteria for appraiser qualifications and training.

“The point of a discussion draft is to solicit feedback regarding key questions that the AQB is considering,” said 2019 AQB Chair Mark A. Lewis. “Stakeholder feedback at this time is critical for the AQB deliberations in advance of any future exposure draft regarding this concept.”

Questions the AQB is seeking answers to include:

  • What is the maximum amount of experience a trainee should be able to obtain by completing PAREA training?
  • What “prerequisites” should be required prior to enrolling in PAREA training?
  • What level of “supervision” is appropriate for PAREA trainees?
  • What should the minimum qualifications be for those “supervising” PAREA trainees?
  • Should PAREA trainees have to complete USPAP-compliant appraisal reports?
  • How will this type of experience be verified?
The AQB will be meeting in Denver, Colorado on May 3, 2019, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm MT. A virtual reality demonstration will be provided to demonstrate one technology that could be utilized in PAREA. To register to attend in person or by live stream, click here. For a list of all events go to Please contact Magdalene Vasquez, Qualifications Board Program Manager at to answer questions.

Still Not Enough Water as the Drought Ends?

The irony in California is deeper than this year’s Sierra snowpack.

After seven years of drought to one degree or another, officials have declared California “drought-free.” Which is good news indeed.
With that in mind, now is not the time to start flood irrigating those lawns or letting the sprinkler systems at city hall and the local high school run water down the ditch, because water cops will still write tickets for washing your car on the wrong day.

But, would someone please send that “drought-free” memo to the Bureau of Reclamation, which recently announced its water allocation to Central Valley Project (CVP) users for the upcoming season.

Read more on California's Water Outlook.

USDA Offers Conservation Assistance to Landowners to Protect Wetlands, Agricultural Lands and Grasslands

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $450 million this year through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands and protect agricultural lands and grasslands.

“For over 25 years, NRCS has worked with landowners to protect their wetlands and agricultural lands,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “Conservation easements are important tools for people who are trying to improve soil health, water and air quality and wildlife habitat on their land.”

ACEP provides assistance to landowners and eligible entities helping conserve, restore and protect wetlands and productive agricultural lands and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment period, which have application deadlines set by the states. Many states have upcoming deadlines this spring.

What Assistance is USDA Offering?

Iowa Farmers Count Their Losses

A small group of farmers on Tuesday looked out at what is normally their farm ground and the now-destroyed bins that normally protect their income. What they see instead is a shallow lake formed by snowmelt and rain that has pushed the Missouri River far beyond its banks and temporarily reclaimed their river-bottom land and put their farms at risk.

The same scene is playing out for farmers in Nebraska, South Dakota and northwest Missouri right now. While the losses are devastating locally, they aren’t necessarily driving up crop prices. Fremont County, Iowa, has some 50,000 acres underwater, and local farmers estimated roughly 390,000 bushels of soybeans and 1.3 million bushels of corn are in bins, many of which are destroyed or damaged. The grain is valued at roughly $7.3 million.

See the Full Damages.

Groups Urge Congress to Address Water Needs

Over 100 organizations representing water and agricultural interests in the Western U.S. urged Congress today to use any infrastructure package under consideration to help address severe hydrological conditions in the West.

“As a nation we must continually invest in the Western water infrastructure necessary to meet current and future demands,” the groups stated in a letter sent to key congressional committees and Western senators. “Our existing water infrastructure in the West is aging and in need of rehabilitation and improvement.”

Will Congress Step In?

How to Grow Hemp for CBD, Seed or Fiber

Hemp is the belle of the crop ball in 2019, with farmers lined up for a chance to dance—but desire does not necessarily translate to know-how. From seed to harvest to processing, U.S. growers are asking a litany of hemp questions.

The year of hemp jubilee has arrived, roughly 80 years after Uncle Sam locked the maligned cannabis variety in the federal attic. American farmers can officially play the hemp game—so says the 2018 farm bill—and for prospective growers facing a chain of hemp management questions, invaluable answers are found in fellow farmers’ fields. Whether seed, fiber or cannabidiol (CBD), hemp growers share a colossal commonality: They are all learning on the go.

What do Hemp Growers Need to Know?