ASFMRA AgNews - August 4, 2020

By ASFMRA Press posted 08-03-2020 08:20


Rural Residential Loans on the Rise

Traditional rural lending from farm credit associations in recent years has found a growing market niche in rural residential loans. That has equated to specialized financing for land loans, rural home loans, lot loans, and recreational land loans seeding private spaces for hunting, fishing and horseback riding.

Anecdotally, many are aware of conversations tied to the COVID-19 pandemic where millennials on the coasts are assessing whether they should move to the country and leave behind big city living, as their jobs can afford them telecommuting. Baby boomers are more interested, in these times, in getting a small rural tract and for a large garden, some livestock or a log cabin, for example.

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Do Right to Farm Law Amendments Violate the Constitution?

The issue at hand: Whether Indiana’s Right to Farm statute provides complete immunity for nuisance and trespass liability to factory farms, and in doing so, violates the Takings Clause of the Constitution. That clause says that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. 

Beyond Indiana, amendments to right-to-farm laws regarding protections for when farms undergo "significant changes" are a growing trend among states. There is divergent treatment on this issue across states and whether nuisance or trespass authorized by the government is a taking. 

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How to Account for Disasters in Land Leases [LISTEN]

Nebraska Farmer talks with Jim Jansen, author of a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics Farm Real Estate Market Survey about the provisions that could be included in ag land leases to address excessive moisture, as well as provisions for ag land affected by other natural disasters or extreme weather events.

"What we found based on our survey panels responses, over three-fourths of responses did not have any lease provisions to account for flooding damages," Jansen says.

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Washington Non-Profit Delivers 3 Million Pounds of Unsold Produce

George Ahearn, who grew up in the farming town of Othello, Washington, co-founded EastWest Food Rescue after learning that Covid-19 was costing local farmers so much business that they were willing to destroy their crops.

His non-profit has since moved three million pounds of produce from farms in eastern Washington to the western part of the state for distribution to hundreds of food banks and meal programs.

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Price Plunges Force Some to Specialized Operations

Vermont’s goat milk supply, which has been creeping up over the last five years, will take a big leap forward this autumn when two brothers start switching their 500-cow dairy farm over to goats.

The move is a bold one for Brian and Steve Jones, who are the fifth generation to operate the 150-year-old family farm. But it’s also essential in the face of low milk prices and other burdens on dairy farmers, said Brian Jones, who started looking into switching to the smaller animals about two years ago.

The way the two brothers see it, the only way to compete against other dairy farmers these days is to get very big, something neither wants to do.

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Indiana Farmland Values Impacted by COVID-19

The 2020 Purdue Farmland Value and Cash Rents Survey suggests that farmland prices across Indiana improved since the June 2019 survey; however, many of those gains occurred between June and December 2019. Since then farmland prices have declined modestly.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon that will likely continue to disrupt trade patterns and income flows around the world. Everyone is hoping for a quick economic recovery, but the degree to which COVID-19 will impact land values is yet to be seen.”

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Appraisal Subcommittee Votes to Extend North Dakota Waiver

Last week the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) acted on a request from the North Dakota Governor despite the ND Real Estate Appraiser Qualifications and Ethics Board writing a letter to the ASC to say it was not needed. The special meeting on July 29 resulted in the committee approving an Order by a 6- 1 vote to extend the temporary waiver relief of appraiser credentialing requirements for appraisals of federally related transactions (FRTs) under $1,000,000 for commercial real estate transactions throughout the State of North Dakota for an additional one-year period.

Significant Differences over COVID-19 Relief Remain

House, Senate and White House leaders have yet to reach an agreement over a fourth COVID-19 relief package. Federal unemployment bonus payments, the extra $600 a week, expired last Friday putting pressure on negotiators to finalize a deal. But the Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on how to move forward. A Republican offer to extend unemployment benefits for one week while the two sides continue to negotiate was rejected by Democrats who want a comprehensive package. Significant differences over liability protection, additional aid to States and local communities, and schools persist as well.

On the agriculture side, additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments have emerged as a key difference. Senator Stabenow (D-MI) stated in a news conference last week the Senate bill is a nonstarter without the additional SNAP payments. Speaker Pelosi over the weekend also raised the absence of additional SNAP payments in the Republican package as a crucial issue. The House bill would increase SNAP benefits by 15% for a cost of $35 billion over 10 years.

While the total amount of additional relief for producers is similar between the House and Senate (totaling $33 to 34 billion including additional CCC borrowing), the approach of how to provide the relief is not. The House bill is more proscriptive than the Senate. The Senate bill provides funding and basically leaves it up to Secretary Perdue to determine who, how and when the relief would be provided. This has some in the farm community worried that the Secretary would not provide payments in manner they would prefer. The general assumption is that the Secretary would provide additional CFAP-type payments. As of last Monday, CFAP payments total $6.5 billion, well behind the $16 billion available. The deadline to request CFAP funding under the first round is August 28, 2020.

The Senate is in session this week. The House is not but could come back at any point to vote on a deal if one is reached. Given the wide gulf in differences between the two sides, I’m not expecting an agreement this week.

Two New House Agriculture Committee Members

Representatives Chris Jacobs (R-NY) and Troy Balderson (R-OH) have joined the House Agriculture Committee. Representative Jacobs won the special election in New York in June to replace Congressman Chris Collins who had resigned in October of 2019. Congressman Balderson is in his second term with Committee assignments on Science, Space and Technology, Small Business and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. Because Republicans have won several special elections, they received additional Committee assignments as the ratio between Democrats and Republicans in the House narrowed.

Portal for Appraisal Licensing Legislation

Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN), and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced HR 7688, the Portal for Appraisal Licensing Act of 2020 in the House. The Act would address concerns by authorizing the ASC to work with state appraiser regulatory agencies to establish a portal to provide appraisers one-stop shopping capabilities in applying for and renewing appraiser licenses and certifications. The ASFMRA is reviewing the legislation. While it is not likely to move this Congressional session, it may in the next one.

In Memory: Fred E. Justus, Ph.D; Lexington, Kentucky

The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome Fred into the membership in 1963 as an Academic member. Fred maintained his Academic membership until 2000 when he transferred to the Retired classification. He was active at both the National and Chapter levels. Fred served as the Kentucky Chapter Secretary/Treasurer from 1979 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1998. He was on the Bylaws Committee in 1984 and on the Editorial Committee from 1988 to 1997. Fred served as the ASFMRA College Vice President from 1985 to 1987. He was also the Kentucky Chapter President. You can view more on Fred’s life here. Fred made many friends through his association with the Society who will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Evelyn, and family.