ASFMRA AgNews - December 24, 2019

By ASFMRA Press posted 30 days ago


Near Cities, Land Owners And Urban Farmers Confront Pressure From Development

Across the Midwest, development in urban areas is increasingly putting pressure on the value of land that could be used for food production or has historically been in agriculture. One private business that rented a plot to local agriculture suddenly sold it this year. 

Even though the agricultural economy has been struggling for the past few years with low prices for corn and soybeans, weather challenges, the tariff exchange with China and other trade uncertainties, land values have stabilized.

Read more here.

Where Christmas Trees Come From

Every year, millions of Americans purchase and decorate Christmas trees to ring in the holiday season. Whether they are bought at a lawn and garden store or a pop-up lot or harvested from a tree farm or a national forest, a live tree is an integral part of the tradition for many families.

Before the 1930s, Christmas trees typically were cut down on an individual’s property or out in the wild. Now, tree farms in all 50 states (yes, Hawaii too) are where most Christmas trees come from, accounting for 98 percent of live Christmas trees brought into homes. These farms churn out many kinds of conifers, but two main regions — Clackamas County near Portland, Ore., and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina — produce the most.

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'Beverly Hillbillies' Mansion Sells for Record California Price of $150M: Report

Swimming pools and movie stars, indeed.

What was once the most expensive home for sale in America is officially off the market, sold for a record-breaking price in California.

The Chartwell Estate in Bel-Air, famously featured in the credits of "The Beverly Hillbillies," has recently sold for about $150 million, effectively making it the most expensive home ever sold in the Golden State, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Read More Here.

Finding "The Balance": The Relationship Between Farm Management and Real Estate Services

For decades, farm management companies across the United States have also served as real estate brokers. Our firm started offering real estate brokerage services all the way back in the 1950’s. Today, the largest farm management companies have very significant real estate brokerage operations. How do these firms balance the workflow and focus? After all, these services compete for a staff member’s time and focus, and there exists some potential for conflict of interest.

It is important to understand why a company offers both services. The first may be a legal requirement. Across many states, the law requires someone who wants to manage farmland (real property) for a fee to hold a real estate license. This gives a farm manager the legal license to also buy and sell farmland.

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Warming Hearts: Farming Inspires Southwestern Nebraska Soy Candle Business

In the midst of tragedy on the farm, one Nebraska woman discovered her greater purpose.

Amanda Johnson’s father-in-law is one of many American farmers who have suffered for their craft. After a farming accident left him a quadriplegic, Amanda and her husband Shane packed up their house and life, and relocated it all to the Benkelman area of southwestern Nebraska, where they could be closer to family.

Read More Here.

Government Funded for FY 2020

The House and Senate are now in recess. Both bodies will return the first full week in January. Earlier last week the House passed two appropriation bills combining all 12 individual appropriation bills to fund the government for FY 2020, nearly 3 months behind schedule. The Senate then followed suit Thursday. President Trump is expected to sign both bills, providing FY 2020 funding for the government through the end of September 2020.

The bulk of the farm, conservation and crop insurance spending is not subject to appropriations, but rather provided via the Agriculture Committee (Farm Bill). However, the salaries and expenses of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are appropriated. In total, the FPAC (Farm Production and Conservation) mission area combined salaries and expenses (Business Center, FSA S&E, RMA S&E and NRCS S&E) are $2.532 billion in 2020 compared to $2.482 billion for FY 2019.

The agriculture portion of the appropriations bill also include a reprogramming of $1.5 billion in 2017 agricultural disaster assistance payments (unused to date) for 2018 and 2019 agricultural disasters. The $1.5 billion will be added to the existing $3 billion pot for 2018 and 2019 disaster payments. With the expanded pot of money, the Secretary of Agriculture is directed to cover quality losses under the disaster program, make disaster payments to eligible sugar cooperatives and expand eligibility for losses related to excess moisture and D3 drought.

House Passes USMCA Overwhelmingly

Before departing town last week, the House passed the U.S. Mexico Canadian Agreement on Trade (USMCA) by a vote of 385-41. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has previously stated the Senate will not take up USMCA until after the Senate impeachment trial. The trial will likely consume the entire month of January as well as part of February.

Senators Introduce Bi-partisan Bill to Amend ASC Membership

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that the housing needs of veterans and folks in rural America are reflected when Federal agencies are setting policies that affect homeowners.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS) are not represented on the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The Senators’ bill adds VA and USDA’s RHS to the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, to help address the persistent delays in appraisals for those purchasing a home through loan programs at both agencies.

In a press release, Senator Tester specifically cites delays in obtaining appraisals as a reason for the bill.

ASFMRA Joins Crop Insurance and Charitable Conservation Easement Letters

This month, ASFMRA joined over 50 organizations on a letter to the Administration urging no harmful cuts to be proposed in the upcoming President’s Budget. You can read that letter here.

ASFMRA also joined other appraisal and conservation organizations on a letter in support of legislation to limit the use of charitable conservation easements as tax shelters. You can read that letter here.

Representative Van Drew Switches Parties

Following the two impeachment votes on Wednesday, Representative Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, announced he was switching parties. Van Drew, along with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) were the only two Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment. It is unclear whether Van Drew will rejoin the Agriculture Committee as a Republican. His departure from the Democratic party does open up a seat for the Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee.