ASFMRA AgNews - November 12, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 11-07-2019 12:07


Land's Linchpin: Amid Low Inventory, Little Interest to Sell

A 67-acre tract of farmland in Sioux County, Iowa, brought $18,300 per acre at auction earlier this month.

In September, Hertz Farm Management had 10 sales at $10,000 or more per acre and eight sales above $11,000 per acre for corn and soybean ground, CEO Randy Hertz told DTN.

These sales may be isolated cases in today's market, but the trend of steady-to-slightly higher land values is not. Farmland brokers report sales around the Midwest continue to attract strong buying interest, primarily from farmers.

Read the Full Story

Area Ag Bankers See a Rocky Economic Outlook

An informal survey of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota agricultural lenders found concern about the financial condition of many of their clients. But the survey also identified one reason for optimism.

About 90 area bankers attended the annual North Dakota State University Extension Outlook Conference for Agricultural Lenders Oct. 28 in Grand Forks. The event allowed ag bankers to hear insights from Extension specialists about crop prices, land values and other ag topics.

Read the Full Story

USDA Embraces Hemp As A Crop

At the same time that the agency opened the gate for farmers across the nation to grow industrial hemp in 2020, the USDA tempered optimism about a new, money-making crop on Tuesday with caution of obstacles for an emerging industry: The hottest hemp product, cannabidiol (CBD), is sold in a gray market; bankers are wary of handling hemp money; and interstate shipment of hemp is problematic.

Farmers have edged into hemp production under a 2014 law that allows pilot projects. Some 230,000 acres were planted this year, estimates advocacy group Vote Hemp. The 2018 farm law legalized cultivation of industrial hemp with USDA to oversee state regulation of growers. The USDA will publish on Thursday a rule to assure consistency among states. Producers will be eligible for an array of USDA programs, from crop insurance to low-cost loans, in 2020.

Read the Full Story

US Economy Slows as Corn and Soy Output Soar

With a return to normal weather, farmers will expand vastly their corn and soybean plantings next year — enough to produce their largest corn crop ever and the fourth-largest soybean crop, according to USDA’s agricultural projections. Bumper crops will drive down market prices in the near term and create huge stockpiles that will take years to whittle down.

Meanwhile, economic growth will slow in the U.S. to less than 2% annually, constraining domestic demand for food and fiber, said the projections released on Friday. Growth would slow as well in Japan, rise in Canada, Mexico, and South Korea and hold steady in the EU. Canada, Mexico, the EU, Japan, and South Korea, in that order, are the top customers for U.S. farm exports.

Read the Full Story

For the First Time Ever, a US Cheese is Named Best in the World

Forget the American love affair with Cheez Whiz, blocks of Velveeta and pasteurized processed cheese food slices.

A cheese from the United States has been named the world's top cheese.

Rogue River Blue has taken the top prize at the 2019 World Cheese Awards, marking the first time a US cheese has ever been named World Champion Cheese.

An organic blue cheese produced by Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon, Rogue River Blue beat a record-breaking 3,804 entries from 42 countries at the awards, held this year in Bergamo, Italy, in mid-October.

Read the Full Story

MFP Second Round Payments to Commence

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the second tranche of Market Facilitation Payments (MFP) for 2019 in the amount of $3.625 billion has been authorized and is expected to be disbursed in late November or early December. The first tranche of MFP payments made so far totals $6.7 billion out of an expected $7.25 billion. A third tranche of MFP for 2019, if approved, would go out in the same amount in January or February.  Secretary Perdue noted he is hopeful export sales to China under Phase I of a U.S.-Sino deal will “supplant” any need for trade aid payments in 2020.

Peterson Urges Changes to MFP Structure

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson wrote a letter to Secretary Perdue urging he consider some changes to the MFP to address program inequities. Peterson said the current system of payments had created “winners and losers among neighbors” and do not take into consideration issues that have affected farmers’ economic situations.

Senate Passes Agriculture Appropriations Bill

The Senate passed a “minibus” appropriations bill for FY 2020 by a vote of 84-9 The minibus includes the Senate version of the FY 2020 Agriculture appropriations bill along with several other appropriation bills. The Senate bill provides $58,361,000 for Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) Salaries and Expenses (S&E), the same amount the House passed bill provided. The FY 2019 appropriation for RMA S&E is $58,361,000, so RMA will most likely receive a flat lined budget once the FY 2020 appropriation process is completed. In comparison, the Farm Service Agency Salaries and Expenses (FSA S&E) are $1,375,177,000 for FY 2019, $1,416,359,000 in the House passed bill for FY 2020 and $1,422,411,000 in the Senate version for FY 2020.

It is unclear when a conference between the House and Senate appropriators will occur to reconcile difference in funding between the two versions. While a bipartisan, bicameral agreement was consummated in July with regard to the top line spending number for FY 2020, a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on how much each of the 12 appropriation bills receive individually has not been reached. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires November 21st. It will need to be extended to avoid a government shutdown.

USDA Issues Hemp Regulation

The Agricultural Market Service issued an interim final rule October 31st to establish a national regulatory framework for hemp production in the United States as required by the 2018 Farm Bill.  Under the 2018 farm bill, states must authorize production of hemp, and the interim final rule outlines provisions for USDA to approve plans submitted by states and Indian tribes for the licensing of farmers to grow the plant. The interim final rule also includes provisions for farmer reporting production to the FSA, for the sampling and testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC], and for the disposal of plants that have a THC level above the legally allowed 0.3%. RMA has authorized coverage of hemp for crop year 2020 under the Whole Farm Revenue Protection plan of insurance.

House Committee Reviews Agriculture’s Role in Addressing Climate Change

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held a hearing on October 30, 2019 to discuss the role of agriculture in identifying and implementing solutions to address climate change. This is the first time that the Select Committee has focused on the potential for America’s farmers and ranchers to combat climate change.

During the hearing the Select Committee explored ways to help the agricultural sector increase carbon storage in farms while also improving farm resiliency against severe weather events and increasing farm profitability. Key topics of discussion included: increasing adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices, with special emphasis on cover crops, conservation tillage, and diversified crop rotations; boosting research funding around climate adaptation and mitigation; enhancing technical and financial assistance to increase conservation activities; and rewarding farmers for delivering ecosystem services.