ASFMRA AgNews - September 17, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 09-16-2019 10:17


How a Manhattan Scion Built a Rural Empire

Stefan Soloviev is in his “western office”—the passenger seat of a Chevy Silverado bouncing along a dirt road near the Kansas-Colorado border, his farm manager at the wheel.

It’s a far cry from his desk on the 45th floor of 9 W. 57th St. in Manhattan, a skyscraper famed for its Central Park views, private equity tenants and irascible owner—Soloviev’s 91-year-old father, billionaire developer Sheldon Solow.

Out here, the son is the empire builder. In ball cap and T-shirt, flexing elaborately tattooed arms, he works the phone as the four-ton truck kicks up a dust cloud between the wheat fields. His wheat fields.

Read the Full Story.

Wind Farm Proposal Divides Ranch Community

About 70 miles northwest of Dallas, a few dozen buildings, a school and gas station make up the unincorporated community of Era. Residents of the area live on wide-open ranches and farms without much more than a handful of trees dotting the horizon.

A wind farm proposal is dividing the quiet, rural community. Residents who oppose the wind farm say that the company's tactics have been misleading and don't properly take into account the impact the towers would have on the community.

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PAREA First Exposure Draft

The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) continues to examine an alternative to the traditional supervisor/trainee model for gaining appraisal experience. The difficulties expressed by trainees trying to find qualified supervisory appraisers willing to train them are numerous and well documented. This continues to present a significant challenge to entry into the appraisal profession. Left unaddressed, the situation could ultimately erode public trust in the profession.

Read the Draft.

USDA: $3B in Resources Available for Farmers Hurt by 2018, 2019 Disasters

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, including Hurricane Dorian, can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). Signup for this U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will begin Sept. 11, 2019.

“U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow by extreme weather over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” Perdue said. “The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing. President Trump has the backs of our farmers, and we are working to support America’s great patriot farmers.”

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What Every Farmland Rental Agreement Should Include

When it’s time to sign a new farmland rental agreement, both parties can bring a lot to the table to make sure the cash rental agreement meets everyone’s needs. A few of the pieces of information that should be included also serve to demonstrate that you’re committed to fairness, sustainable farming, and the stewardship of the land.

Sustainable farming practices aren’t just another trending phrase: your farmland rental agreement is that document where you get to outline your shared expectations for soil health and tillage practices. 

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How Do You Define Regenerative Agriculture?

To bring the definition of regenerative agriculture into focus, AgriTalk recently hosted Lee Briese, a crop consultant in North Dakota. 

Regenerative ag, sustainable agronomy, soil health, environmental stewardship—all of these phrases and concepts are being applied to agronomic decisions being made out in the field today.  

Briese says, in the way he sees things, these terms can all overlap but also mean different things while still keeping the same end goal in mind: focusing on the soil. 

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VIDEO: Sept. USDA Reports Show U.S. Crop Trending Down

Ahead of the Sept. 12 USDA Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), market analysts weren’t expecting major slashes to corn and soybean yield estimates.

Watch the Videos

ASFMRA 2019 Leadership Institute

Last week 27 (12 appraisers and 15 farm managers) ASFMRA members attended the annual Leadership Institute sponsored by Corteva in Washington D.C.  The group started the week by taking a bus out to McLean, VA to visit the Farm Credit Administration (FCA). FCA Board Chairman and ASFMRA member Glen Smith and his staff briefed the group about the Farm Credit System and the agricultural economy as a whole.

After the FCA meetings, the group completed a full set of meetings that afternoon at USDA including meeting with FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce who walked the group through the disaster regulation (see below) that was released Monday of last week. The group thoroughly enjoyed the Wixted communications training session, met with members of Congress, including House Agriculture Ranking member Mike Conaway (R-TX), and farm organization representatives. The farm managers concluded with their visit to Chesapeake Farms on a day with record setting temperatures (98 degrees) for the Washington area.

USDA Announces Disaster Aid Provisions

Last week the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued a final rule promulgating details for the $3 billion in 2018 and 2019 disaster aid that Congress made available earlier this year. The primary program, WHIP+ (Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program plus) will provide payments to eligible producers who suffered eligible crop, tree, bush, vine, or prevented planting losses resulting from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, and wildfires that occurred in the 2018 and 2019 calendar years. Sign-up started September 11, 2019.

Eligible crops must be intended for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 crop years and they must be eligible for crop insurance or the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Producers must be located in a county that received a qualifying Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration of Secretarial Disaster Designation. USDA has posted eligible counties.

Producers receiving a WHIP+ payment must buy crop insurance or enroll in NAP at the 60% coverage level or higher for the next 2 available crop years. Producers can meet the purchase requirement by buying Whole Farm Revenue Coverage. WHIP+ payments for trees, bush or vine losses do not carry the 2-year purchase requirement.

An additional payment, 10% of indemnity for those without harvest price protection coverage and 15% for those with harvest price protection coverage will be paid on eligible prevented planted indemnities. The 2-year purchase requirement applies to the prevented planted bonus, but payment limit provisions do not. Signup for the prevented planted bonus has not been announced.

WHIP+ includes a new Milk Loss Program that will provide payments to eligible dairy operations that dumped or removed milk without compensation from the commercial milk market. The milk losses must be due to a qualifying natural disaster in 2018 and 2019.

A new On-Farm Storage Loss Program is also included in WHIP+. This program will provide assistance to producers who suffered losses of harvested commodities, including hay, that were stored in on-farm structures in 2018 and 2019.

EPA Officially Repeals WOTUS Rule

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler officially signed off on the formal repeal of President Obama’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule.  "Today’s final rule puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of Clean Water Act regulations, and restores a long-standing and familiar regulatory framework while we consider public comments on our proposed revised definition of Waters of the United States," Administrator Wheeler said.  The Obama-era rule had not taken effect because there have been court challenges. But the repeal formally restores the previous regulatory regime nationwide until the Trump administration releases its own rule to deal with the issue of conflicting Supreme Court rulings on waters. More lawsuits will certainly follow.

Congress Returns, Focuses on Funding the Government

After a 5-week recess, both the House and Senate returned to Washington last week. The 2019 fiscal year ends September 30. To date, none of the 12 appropriation bills has been completed. Even with the budget agreement, reached at the end of July, Congress will not be able to complete all 12 appropriation bills by the end of month. While individual bills will move along, for example the Senate will mark up the agriculture appropriations bill Tuesday at the subcommittee level and Thursday at the full committee level, the House Appropriations Committee Chair Lowey (D-NY) started the process to move a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown.

Interestingly, the first draft of the CR does not replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC) borrowing authority.  The CCC has the ability to spend (borrow) up to $30 billion in any given fiscal year. Normally, the CCC doesn’t come close to spending $30 billion. However, this fiscal year it will tap the full amount as USDA makes Market Facilitation Payments (MFP) round 1 and 2, normal ARC/PLC payments and other commodity program payments. If the borrowing authority is not replenished, MFP as well as 2018 crop year ARC/PLC payments could be delayed. Several key lawmakers have already stated they will not vote for the CR unless the CCC’s borrowing authority is replenished.  The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation is not impacted by CCC borrowing authority.