ASFMRA AgNews - July 21, 2020

By ASFMRA Press posted 24 days ago


Bankers Expect Farm Loan Defaults to Rise

This month, bankers estimated that farm loan defaults would rise by 5% over the next 12- month period. This is up slightly from 4.8% registered one year ago.

Farmland prices continue to slide, with a July reading of 45.6, down from June’s 46.8. This is the 79th time in the past 80 months the index has been below growth neutral.

Falling agriculture commodity prices and farm income have failed to diminish annual farm rents per acre. This month bank CEOs reported average per acre farmland rents of $220 which is almost unchanged from that detailed earlier this year, and four years ago.

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Texas Farm Profiting on Foodies Escaping Grocery Stores

“Every farmer I know is having a great year; empty grocery store shelves freak people out,” says Megan Neubauer, owner of Pure Land Farm in McKinney, Texas.. “It’s all the people on Instagram making sourdough, I think the foodies were like, ‘I have the time to do some of this more foodier stuff,’ and every farmer I know that has made the pivot to retail is doing really well.”

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Farm Land Values Had Grown in Nebraska Prior to COVID-19

The annual report on the value of farm land in Nebraska is a snapshot in time and this year may only give us part of the picture, conducted before COVID-19.

Nebraska agricultural land values increased by 3 percent over the last year, to a statewide average of $2,725 per acre, according to the final results of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 2020 Farm Real Estate Report. This marks the first annual increase since land values in the state peaked at $3,315 per acre in 2014.

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Urbanites Buying Up Rural Property

Realtors across the country have experienced a spike in demand for rural properties over the past few months, as the threat of COVID-19 has pushed city residents to relocate to the quiet countryside. Lockdowns have left city residents more desperate than ever to get outdoors and reconnect with nature, says Mike Duffy, the president of United Country Real Estate. His Kansas City-based company has seen inquiries for rural properties increase by fivefold during May and June, compared to the same months last year.

“We’re having a hard time keeping up,” he says. “People want acres.”

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A Seventh Generation Farming Story

While Charity and Jon’s children comprise the seventh generation of Mannings growing up on the farm, all of the Mannings’ children have lived on the farm during their respective married lives.

Galen hopes his grandchildren see and learn from his work ethic. As they get older, Galen often steps back, allowing his grandchildren to learn how to do things on their own under his guidance.

“I’m teaching them not to be afraid of working with their hands,” Galen said. “I want them to be able to figure things out, to fix it and to go on. It serves you in life, the things you learn on the farm.”

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Massachusetts to Issue Rules to Limit Solar Farms

How could a renewable energy project meant to reduce emissions come at the expense of removing so many trees, the planet’s primary means of removing carbon from the atmosphere?

“I consider myself a conservationist, but this is ridiculous,” said Brian Hagberg, whose home is so close to the 2.9 megawatt solar farm that moonlight reflects off the large array of panels and illuminates the back of his home. “This doesn’t seem like the best way to deal with climate change."

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

USDA Announces CFAP Changes

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a list of additional commodities that have been added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), and other adjustments to the program based on comments received from agricultural producers and organizations and review of market data.

Changes to CFAP include:
  • Adding the following commodities: alfalfa sprouts, anise, arugula, basil, bean sprouts, beets, blackberries, Brussels sprouts, celeriac (celery root), chives, cilantro, coconuts, collard greens, dandelion greens, greens (others not listed separately), guava, kale greens, lettuce – including Boston, green leaf, Lolla Rossa, oak leaf green, oak leaf red and red leaf – marjoram, mint, mustard, okra, oregano, parsnips, passion fruit, peas (green), pineapple, pistachios, radicchio, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, fresh sugarcane, Swiss chard, thyme and turnip top greens.
  • Expanding for seven currently eligible commodities – apples, blueberries, garlic, potatoes, raspberries, tangerines and taro – CARES Act funding for sales losses because USDA found these commodities had a 5 percent or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for marketing adjustments.
  • Determining that peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for payment under the CARES Act sales loss category.
  • Correcting payment rates for apples, artichokes, asparagus, blueberries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, garlic, kiwifruit, mushrooms, papaya, peaches, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, tangerines and taro.
Additional details can be found in the Federal Register in the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and Final Rule Correction and at

Senate Returns to Begin Aid Package Discussion

The Senate returns to Washington today and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) intends to reveal a Republican led stimulus package later this week in response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Senator McConnell will be working closely with the White House. Secretary Mnuchin will lead the negotiations for the Administration. Senator McConnell’s bill will include liability protections that attempt to shield businesses, schools and health care providers who follow public health guidelines from personal injury in coronavirus-related trial lawsuits. President Trump has indicated he wants a payroll tax cut included in this round of aid. Neither of those two provisions are included in the House passed HEROES Act (May 15, 2020).

Two other major sticking points will be the continuation of additional unemployment insurance benefits, and if so at what level. The extra $600 a week provided by the CARES Act expires at the end of the month. The other polemic is relief for states and local governments. The Republican led Senate will downplay the amount, while the Democrat HEROES Act seeks substantial relief for states and local governments (over $1 Trillion).

The agricultural aid portion of the HEROES Act provided $33 billion in additional emergency funding over 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The bulk of the $33 billion, $19 billion would go for additional CFAP payments to cover losses sustained in the first and second quarters of calendar year 2020. For most commodities these are losses related to 2019 production. According to USDA the decline in commodity value alone for 2019, 2020 and 2021 production totals nearly $50 billion in value with the majority of those losses coming on 2020 crops.  As a result, producer groups are lobbying Congress to make sure the second round of CFAP payments compensate producers for post-April 15 losses.

The House passed HEROES Act also made the bulk of the additional funding as a direct appropriation, without increasing or replenishing the Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC) borrowing authority. Currently the CCC borrowing authority is capped at $30 billion. Farm groups would like to see that increased significantly to $50 - $68 billion. What approach the Senate bill will take is unclear.

The Senate is scheduled to recess on August 6th. Final passage of the emergency relief bill most likely won’t occur until the first week in August.

RMA Provides More Flexibility to Correct Acreage Reports

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued Manager Bulletin MGR-20-020. The bulletin provides additional flexibility to reconcile acreage reports with Farm Service Agency (FSA) 578s. FSA has waived late filing fees on 578s essentially allowing late filed 578s. The bulletin makes it clear a 578 is not needed to complete an acreage report.

The bulletin allows companies to revise an acreage report after the acreage reporting date when no cause of loss has occurred or the acreage of the crop being added will produce at least 90 percent of the yield used to determine its guarantee or the amount of insurance, based upon an appraisal of only the added acreage. At the company’s discretion, modifications for acreage within a field that is the lessor of 10 acres or 10 percent of the total acreage in the field do not require an appraisal. Companies may also use their discretion as to whether modifications to existing reported acreage, such as a crop type, practice, share, etc., warrants an appraisal, including modified acreage that increases the liability. This authority is only authorized for reconciliation to the FSA-578 due to the extenuating circumstances regarding COVID-19 and in accordance with MGR-20-015.

Welcome New Members

We are recognizing new members of the Society on a monthly basis. You may recognize your colleagues in the following list and we encourage you to welcome them into ASFMRA!

New Members
Sara Ballinger with SEB Equine Appraisals, LLC in Loxahatchee, Fla. (Florida and Ohio Chapters)
Drew Burton with Agriworld, Inc. in Lake Village, Ark. (Mid-South Chapter)
Catherine Machado in Madera, Calif. (California Chapter)
Chanda Scheuring with Farmers National Company in Defiance, Iowa (Iowa Chapter)
Harsimer Sran in Kerman, Calif. (California Chapter)

Share Your Experience

You know first-hand what a great organization ASFMRA is and what it means to you both professionally and personally. We thank you for spreading the word, you are the driving force behind our continued growth! Talk to those you know who would benefit from ASFMRA’s educational offerings, networking, and meetings. Let them know your experiences of being involved in this great association and some of the business contacts you have made along with lasting friendships. Your peers listed below have done just that! They spoke to individuals about ASFMRA and those individuals have now become members of ASFMRA!

W. Stacey Gillison, AFM
Matt Gunderson, AFM
Melissa Sandlin, ARA

Thank you to all who have referred someone and in some cases, more than one, to join ASFMRA.