ASFMRA AgNews - October 29, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 10-24-2019 10:46


Agriculture Funds Aim to Harvest Profit, Along With Corn and Wheat

Two realities undergird the investment case for agriculture: The world’s population keeps swelling and everyone must eat.

A third reality — climate change — will make satisfying those billions of appetites harder and companies that can help farmers potentially more valuable.

Agriculture isn’t a standard investment sector in the way that, say, financial stocks are, and definitions of it vary, including things ranging from the obvious, like the American equipment-maker Deere & Company, to the offbeat, like Leroy Seafood, the Norwegian fish farmer.

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Fintech Takes Root in America’s Farmland

Of all the asset classes that fintech has changed over the past decade, real estate is perhaps the most transformed. Technology’s impact on underwriting efficiency and the ability to crowdfund capital have changed the scope and scale of alternative investments that are available to investors.

But real estate’s rapid evolution into a broadly accessible alternative asset class has largely focused on commercial and multifamily properties. Yet farmland, a $2.5 trillion market in the U.S. alone, remained unchanged. This gap in the market leapt out at Artem Milinchuk, founder CEO of the farmland investment fintech startup FarmTogether.

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Farmers National Company Names New President

As Farmers National Company celebrates its 90th anniversary, the growing landowner services company also will see a changing of the guard.

Iowa native Jim Farrell, president and CEO, has been with Farmers National Company since 1986. He took a position with Farmers National Company at its Southeast Minnesota office in Rochester where he managed and sold farms during the heart of the farm crisis. Eventually, Farrell was promoted to vice president of business development. He advanced to become vice president of marketing and then in 2004 he was named president and CEO. Farrell will be retiring from the employee-owned company effective Dec. 31, 2019.

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Agriculture Symposium Takes Look at What’s on the Horizon for Colorado

There was plenty of optimism to go around Wednesday at a Colorado Department of Agriculture symposium despite international trade disputes, low commodity prices and questions about the industry’s future in the face of an aging corps of producers.

Technology, new partnerships, the growing demand for locally grown food and hands-on education programs in the schools are fueling enthusiasm, speakers at the Colorado Proud “Next Generation of Ag” symposium said.

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Lenders Assess Tough Harvest, Trade Impacts as Ag Stress Rises, Land Values Hold

About 7% of Farm Credit System loans are "stressed," up from about 4% five years ago, but far less than about 22.2% in the mid-1980s, say top executives with some of the farm credit network locations.

The stressed term doesn't mean overdue but is based on a formula that includes numerous factors such as income.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from Washington, D.C., attended by phone from ag reporters around the country, chief executive officers of three Farm Credit entities — Jeff Swanhorst, of AgriBank, St. Paul, Minn., Byron Enix, American AgCredit of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Vance Dalton, of Carolina Farm Credit at Statesville, N.C. — provided updates on the farm financial picture.

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Video: How Ag Retailers Can Start Talking About Sustainability

Late in 2018, the SPARC (sustainability programming for ag retailers and CCAs) initiative was launched at the ARA annual meeting. Field to Market’s Kelly Murray Young shares how the initiative is going so far and all of the ways retailers can get the conversation started with their farmer customers about sustainability.

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56% Of Corn Rated Good To Excellent, USDA Reports

Corn harvest is inching along, according to the USDA Crop Progress report released on Monday, Oct. 21.

To date, the corn harvest is only 30% complete, up 8 points week-on-week, but well behind the five-year average of 47%.

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Video: How Badly Has Weather Hurt Yields?

Freeze damage this past weekend likely impacted corn and soybeans differently, but analysts believe true yield reports will not be available until January

Alan Suderman of INTL FCStone estimates soybean yield losses between 30 million to 50 million bu. and corn yield losses between 300 million to 400 million bu. However, corn yield losses could rise as high as 600 million to 700 million bu.

Watch the Video.

Senate Agriculture Committee Reviews 2018 Farm Bill Implementation

Deputy Secretary Censky appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee last week to review USDA’s progress implementing the 2018 farm bill. His written testimony provides a comprehensive summary of USDA’s farm bill implementation efforts todate. You can watch a replay of the hour and a half hearing as well. There were no questions regarding crop insurance although several Senators did inquire about the status of USDA’s Agricultural Market Service (AMS) rule making regarding hemp. Deputy Secretary Censky said the rule making should be published in the very near future. The rule is important for interstate transportation of hemp and several other marketing components for selling hemp and its byproducts in the U.S.

Several Senators touched on biofuels and ethanol throughout the hearing. Senator Hoeven (R-ND) inquired, around 32-minute mark, about WHIP+ and whether it would apply to losses from the recent rainfall and snowfall in North Dakota. Censky indicated it would if those counties receive a Secretarial or Presidential disaster declaration. Ranking member Senator Stabenow (D-MI), around the 25-minute mark, raised the issue of MFP payments and whether those payments were equitable across the country. Finally, several Democrat Senators raised strong objections to USDA’s recent SNAP rule making.

Agriculture Spending Bill Under Senate Consideration

The Senate is currently debating a “minibus” appropriations bill for FY 2020. Agriculture along with Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Commerce, State and Justice make up the package. No harmful crop insurance amendments have been filed. Senators hope to wrap up amendments and pass the bill by the end of the week. Recall the House has previously passed its version of these FY 2020 spending bills, so a conference between the House and Senate will occur after Senate passage to reconcile differences between the two versions. The current Continuing Resolution runs through November 21. It is highly likely that not all of the 12 spending bills will be passed and signed into law by then, requiring another CR to avoid a partial government shutdown.

USDA Opens Enrollment for 2020 ARC/PLC

Farmers now can enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2020 crop year at their local Farm Service Agency office. Meanwhile, producers who enrolled farms for the 2018 crop year have started receiving more than $1.5 billion in payments for covered commodities if a payment triggered under ARC or PLC for crop year 2018.

Signup for the 2020 crop year closes June 30, 2020, while signup for the 2019 crop year closes March 15, 2020. Producers who have not yet enrolled for 2019 can enroll for both 2019 and 2020 during the same visit to an FSA county office.

ARC and PLC have options for the farm operator who is actively farming the land as well as the owner of the land. Farm owners also have a one-time opportunity to update PLC payment yields beginning with crop year 2020. If the farm owner and producer visit the FSA county office together, FSA can also update yield information during that visit.

Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium and short grain rice, safflower seed, seed cotton, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.