ASFMRA AgNews - October 1, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 23 days ago


Struggling Farmers See Bright Spot in Solar

U.S. farmers are embracing an alternative means of turning sunlight into revenue during a sharp downturn in crop prices: solar power.

Solar panels are being installed across the Farm Belt for personal and external use on land where growers are struggling to make ends meet.

The tit-for-tat tariffs applied by the U.S. and China to each other’s goods have cut demand for American crops. Futures prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are all trading around their lowest levels since 2010. Making matters worse, record spring rainfall left many farmers no time to plant a decent crop.

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Why Robots Will Soon Be Picking Soft Fruits and Salad

It takes a certain nimbleness to pick a strawberry or a salad. While crops like wheat and potatoes have been harvested mechanically for decades, many fruits and vegetables have proved resistant to automation. They are too easily bruised, or too hard for heavy farm machinery to locate.

But recently, technological developments and advances in machine learning have led to successful trials of more sensitive and dexterous robots, which use cameras and artificial intelligence to locate ripe fruit and handle it with care and precision.

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California Farmers Face 'Catastrophic' Water Restrictions. Can they Adapt to Survive?

It was 2015 and, as far as John Konda knew, farming still had a viable future in the San Joaquin Valley.

So he expanded.

The Tulare County grower planted 75 acres of pistachios, adding to a farm he’s owned since 2003. Two years later, in order to augment his water supply, he drilled two new groundwater wells.

Now he wonders whether the investments, totaling more than $1.5 million, will turn out to be a costly mistake.

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NCREIF releases Ag Appraisal Guidelines

The National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries released its Agricultural Appraisal Guidelines Sept. 11. Developed by members of the NCREIF Farmland Committee with input from organizations such as the Appraisal Institute, the guidelines are intended to provide clearly defined standards for appraisers, but are not intended to replace any current valuation requirements.

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Be Your Banker’s Favorite Customer

As you prepare to close the books on this year, you’ll soon shift your attention to 2020. A good rule of thumb is to start planning your finances at the same time you start your agronomic plans for the next year, says Jessica Lehman, managing director of agribusiness banking, First Financial Bank in Fort Wayne, Ind.

To do so, schedule a meeting with your lender. In these meetings you can go over final numbers and projections for 2019, as well as talk through your options for next year, says Ashley Arrington, founder of ag consulting firm Agri Authority.

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AgPro Podcast: Policy Expectation For the Rest of 2019

In a recent episode of the AgPro podcast, Hunter Carpenter, Director of Public Policy, shares the latest from our nation’s capital. 

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A Reality Check on The Acreage Conversation

AgDay's Clinton Griffiths talks with Bob Utterback of Utterback Marketing for a bear's perspective on planted and harvested acres. 

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ASC North Dakota Waiver Decision Questioned by Congress

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA)
, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, sent a letter last week to the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) Chairman Arthur Lindo requesting answers about ASC’s decision to grant a waiver of appraiser certification and licensing to the state of North Dakota.  The letter reiterates that Congress has long recognized the important role appraisals play in oversight and consumer protection. Stating the waiver was minimally justified, the letter raises concerns about the ASC waiver process. The letter solicits answers to multiple questions regarding how the ASC determined an appraisal shortage in North Dakota and seeks justification for the ASC decision.

Senate Passes CR

Last Thursday the Senate passed a FY 2020 continuing resolution (CR) on a bipartisan basis, 81-16, to fund the government through November 21, 2019. The House had passed the same CR the week before. The bill was sent to the President last Friday and President Trump signed the bill to avoid a government shutdown.  None of the 12 appropriation bills have been completed to date and without the CR, the government would shut down on October 1, 2019.

The CR includes a provision to replenish all of the Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC) $30 billion borrowing authority. That means 2018 ARC and PLC payments will be paid in October, and there should be no delay in MFP payments in October. Undersecretary Bill Northey reported 400,000 farmers have applied for MFP Round 2 payments so far and nearly $5 billion has been paid to date.

RMA Announces Prevent Plant Disaster Payment

The Risk Management Agency (RMA)  announced last week that producers currently participating in federal crop insurance who had in 2019 a payable prevented planting indemnity related to flooding, excess moisture or causes other than drought will automatically receive a “top-up” payment. The funding for this payment is being made through the $3 billion in ad hoc crop disaster funding that Congress approved early this year.

Producers will receive the payment from their crop insurance company starting in mid-October. Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a 10 percent of indemnity top-up payment, while producers with Revenue Protection will receive 15 percent of indemnity payment. Insureds do not need to sign up to receive payments.

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson issued a statement supporting the RMA announcement: “As weather continues to throw wrenches into farmers’ plans, both in Western Minnesota and across the country, I appreciate USDA and crop insurance providers moving forward in delivering the prevented planting plus-up that Congress provided,” said Peterson. “This will provide direct help to farmers without additional paperwork, and allow them to focus on the range of other challenges they face.”