ASFMRA AgNews - December 10, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 12-06-2019 13:09


Farmland Rents Stay Up Despite Low Crop Prices

With another harvest behind them, farmers are beginning to sit down with their landlords to look at farm land rental contracts for the year ahead. In most cases, it’s the landlords who hold the cards.

“Based on commodity prices, yields and input costs, rents should be about $100 an acre,” said University of Minnesota Extension Educators David Bau. “But (rents) are about double that or more.”

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No End In Sight For Midwest Farmers' Financial Woes

Agricultural bankers are predicting continued financial trouble for farmers in Illinois and across the Midwest.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s most recent quarterly report shows farmland values in the Prairie State dropped one percent from this time last year.

David Oppedahl, senior economist at the Federal Reserve, conducts research on the agricultural sector. He said these findings are a continuation of a downward trend that’s been going on for at least five years.

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Housing Versus Agriculture: The Battle for California's Land

California loses square mile of farmland every five days, according to the state’s Department of Conservation. And 70 percent of that loss is prime farmland, areas with rich soils and water access.

The department has spent decades mapping out how land has changed due to urbanization. It’s a battleground that’s been brewing and could reach the tipping point soon with Governor Newsom’s call to add an additional 3.5 million new housing units by 2025.

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After 240 Years and 7 Generations, Forced to Sell the Family Farm

Farmer Frank hobbled into the house, cane in hand.

“Sow got out of her pen, had to chase her down,” said Farmer Frank — Frank Hull, 71 — whose body, ravaged from decades of heavy manual work, is no longer built for chasing sows.

For half a century, he and his wife, Sherry, 67, have run their 260-acre farm here in the upper Catskills, some two hours north of New York City.

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Go Big or Get Out? Some in Farming Say the Opposite is the Future

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared to be delivering hard truth to the heartland last month when he said he wasn’t sure family dairies would survive.

Consolidation has been the driving force in agriculture for decades, and Perdue’s comments reflect that reality. “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said at a dairy exposition in Wisconsin.

But not everyone agrees the trend will continue unabated.

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CRP General Sign-up Announced

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) starts December 9, 2019 and will end February 28, 2020. Signup for continuous CRP is ongoing. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) published an interim final CRP rule on December 6th to allow the general signup to commence. The interim final rule makes changes to the CRP that were required by the 2018 farm bill. Most importantly, rental rates under the general sign-up are capped at 85% of the FSA determined rental rate for the county. FSA has published update 2020 rental rates.

Later in 2020, FSA will roll out pilot programs within CRP: CLEAR 30, which allows contracts expiring with CLEAR practices to be reenrolled in 30-year contracts and in the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) in the prairie pothole region. More information on these programs will be announced in the new year. Additionally, a separate CRP Grasslands signup will be offered each year following general signup. The sign-up period for CRP Grasslands in 2020 will run from March 16, 2020 to May 15, 2020.

USMCA Progress

After negotiating with House and Senate Democrats, Trump trade officials reached an agreement with Mexican negotiators last Friday on the changes sought to the USMCA agreement by the Democrats. The ball moves back now, to the House of Representatives to move forward on the agreement. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Friday he believes the USMCA implementing bill could be on the House floor as soon as next week. In the interim, House Republicans, led by House Agriculture Committee Ranking member Conaway (R-TX) and House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady (R-TX) are sending a letter to House Speaker Pelosi urging adoption of the agreement.

WOTUS Rule Moving Forward

White House officials are currently reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed final rule revising the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) to conform with Supreme Court rulings that largely limit the reach of the EPA to navigable and interstate waters, including adjacent wetlands. This is the second step of a two-step process to repeal and replace the Obama-era WOTUS rule that would have granted a near plenary regulatory authority to EPA over any and all U.S. waters. EPA is targeting a January publication of the final rule.

RMA Reminds Producers Facing Delayed Harvest to Contact their Insurance Agent

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) posted a reminder to insured producers nationwide who currently participate in Federal Crop Insurance and are facing a delay in harvesting their crop to contact their crop insurance agent and file a Notice of Loss (NOL) by December 10 or the applicable end of insurance period in order to request an extension of time to harvest. Once an extension has been approved, an insured producer needs to harvest the crop at the first feasible opportunity.

NCUA Issues Proposed Rule to Raise Residential Appraisal Threshold

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) issued a proposed rule on November 29 to increase the appraisal threshold for residential appraisals to $400,000 from $250,000. The NCUA is making the proposal to be consistent with the recent change made by the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC with regard to residential appraisals requirements. For transactions below $400,000, the NCUA would require credit unions to obtain a written estimate of market value of the real estate collateral in lieu of an appraisal.