ASFMRA AgNews - September 1, 2020

By ASFMRA Press posted 28 days ago


USDA Narrows Qualifications for Farm Subsidies

Loopholes remain, but the USDA is tightening its crop subsidy rules by limiting who can collect a payment for managing a farm, historically one of its most porous definitions. The new regulation, to be published on Monday, requires people to perform at least 500 hours of management or at least 25% of the management work required annually to merit a subsidy check.

Previously, the USDA standard was active personal management that was crucial to the profitability of the farming operation. Crop subsidy recipients can collect up to $125,000 apiece, with spouses automatically eligible for payments.

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New Realty Website Feature Shows Floodrisk. Will Competitors Follow?

Millions of people rely on real estate websites when they're hoping to buy or rent a home. Major sites such as Zillow, Redfin, Trulia and feature kitchens, bathrooms, mortgage estimates and even school ratings. But those sites don't show buyers whether the house is likely to flood while they're living there.

Now, has become the first site to disclose information about a home's flood risk and how climate change could increase that risk in the coming decades, potentially signaling a major shift in consumers' access to information about climate threats.

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USDA Offers Resources for Farmers affected by Hurricane Laura

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses in the path of Tropical Storms Marco and Hurricane Laura that the USDA has programs that provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in the regional, state, and county offices stand ready to help.

The USDA has partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. 

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Legislators Unsure of New Software Estimating Worth of Utah's Public Lands

After an investment of $700,000 and months of waiting, Utah lawmakers thought they’d finally nailed down the number they’d long needed to solidify their case that the federal government is dramatically shortchanging the state.

The figure was $534 million, the amount they believe the Interior Department should be paying Utah each year for the value of its federally-controlled public lands. Armed with this sum — churned out by pricey property appraisal software — state officials reasoned that they could confront the nation’s leaders and demand the money they believe they’re owed.

Now, though, some state lawmakers are worried the much-anticipated number might do more harm than good.

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Crops Scouts Learn Extent of Damage from Derecho and Drought

A clearer picture of damage to crops in the path of last week’s derecho storm emerged on Wednesday, as crop scouts on an annual tour scrambled across blown over corn stalks and wind-battered soybean fields in Illinois and Iowa.

Iowa officials on Tuesday warned much of the crop in the path of the Aug. 10 storm would not be harvested. Some 14 million acres, or 57% of Iowa’s area planted, were impacted.

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Ag Lending is Holding Steady Despite Shaky Markets

The agricultural lending sector is strong and healthy, and land values are holding strong despite the lingering downturn in commodity prices and the turmoil in markets, according to Curt Covington, vice president of Ag America.

“Right now, I’d give the current ag econ environment a grade of C+,” he says. “First of all, thanks to the lowest rate environment in my lifetime and a strong demand for ag properties, farmers have been able to keep their leverage position intact. Land values continue very strong because there are certain people around the U.S. that have deep pockets are a willing to pay near top dollar for ag properties. Second, many farmers came into the current downturn with really strong balance sheets thanks to the high prices back in 2013 and 2014. A lot of them paid down debt and squirreled away money and even bought land.”

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Bipartisan Report Concludes That Land Tax Loophole Needs to Go

Tax-advantaged land deals known as syndicated conservation easements are set up solely for tax avoidance and will continue to cost the government billions in lost revenue if allowed in their current form, a Senate Finance Committee investigation found.

A bipartisan report, released Tuesday, compared the deals to inserting a dollar into a vending machine and getting two back. It sets the stage for Congress to pass legislation to stop abusive versions of these transactions, which have been under IRS scrutiny for years.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

FSA Finalizes Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility Rule

In the Federal Register last week, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) published a final rule implementing the changes required by the 2018 farm bill to its program eligibility and payment limitations. The rule finalizes the Secretary’s ability to waive the AGI test for USDA conservation programs under certain circumstances. It removes LDP (Loan Deficiency Payments) and MLG (Marketing Loan Gains) from the payment limit calculation. It also makes changes to the definition of family member and the definition of actively engaged per the 2018 Farm Bill requirements. These changes had been previously implemented via an interim final rule. No change was made to the landowner’s eligibility under the actively engaged eligibility section.

RMA Announces Changes to Prevent Plant Coverage

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced that it will make changes to Prevent Plant Coverage for the 2021 crop year starting with most spring crops and for all crops for the 2022 crop year. The changes were announced after a prevent plant task force convened earlier this year to review prevent plant coverage after the unprecedented amount of prevent plant acreage during 2019. The changes include:

  • Expansion of the “1 in 4” requirement nationwide. Currently, only producers in the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area are subject to the requirement, which requires producers to plant acreage in at least one of the four most recent crop years to be eligible for prevented planting coverage on those acres.
  • Several modifications to existing policy and procedure to ensure that producers’ prevented planting payments adequately reflect the crops the producer intended to plant. Specific information on the changes can be found here.
  • Allow acreage planted with an uninsured second crop following the failure of a first crop within the same crop year to, nonetheless, be included as prevented planting eligible acreage.
  • Provide an exception allowing prevented planting of a different crop than the producer attempted to plant when a producer does not have a history of producing two crops in the same field if the producer can prove intention.
  • Allow the use of an intended acreage report for the first two years, instead of only the first year, for producers in a new county, where they have never produced the crop.

Representative Peterson Questions CFAP Methodology, Data

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) sent a letter to Secretary Perdue urging the Secretary to clarify how USDA determined the eligibility of different crops and livestock and poultry species for payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). In the letter, Peterson contends that the data used by the Department to calculate CFAP payments was limited to only the earliest parts of the pandemic, missing the full extent of damage to different commodities.

Additionally, Peterson took issue with the reasons certain commodities were denied payments.

“Hundreds of commodities were denied CFAP eligibility for ‘insufficient data’ and ‘lack of information,’ though it would seem that the well documented shut-down of school meals, restaurants, and food service demand would have impacted those food crops, and the loss of export, landscape, and retail markets for the non-food crops (e.g., pima cotton) and livestock/poultry,” he wrote. “And, producers of processed food commodities (e.g., raisins) and aquaculture seem to have been completely excluded from the program.”

“Without consistent public clarity on what data USDA deems sufficient for use or how USDA is analyzing this data, the program is at risk of public distrust and other commodities seeking future program eligibility are placed at a disadvantage,” added Peterson. “Given this and the continued market uncertainty during the ongoing national emergency, I trust USDA is working to assist producers this summer who have suffered significant market disruptions and been denied access to CFAP to date.”

RMA to Allow Dakotans to Hay, Graze or Chop Cover Crops Early This Year

RMA announced that farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres this year in select counties in North and South Dakota will be permitted to hay, graze or chop those fields beginning Sept. 1 rather than Nov. 1. The change is being made because of excessive moisture and flooding in 42 counties in the two states. The change allows farmers to maintain eligibility for their full 2020 prevented planting indemnity.

Qualifying counties include:

North Dakota: Barnes, Benson, Bottineau, Cass, Dickey, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, La Moure, Mcintosh, Nelson, Ramsey, Ransom, Rolette, Sargent, Sheridan, Steele, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, and Wells

South Dakota: Beadle, Brown, Brule, Campbell, Clark, Codington, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, Hanson, Hyde, McPherson, Marshall, Potter, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, and Walworth

Emergency Loss Procedures for Derecho Impacted Area Announced

RMA issued MGR-20-24 to authorize the use of emergency loss procedures in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin counties impacted by the derecho event.

The application of the emergency procedures is limited to those situations where the catastrophic nature of the losses, due to insured perils, would result in unnecessary delays in processing claims and the ability to make timely policy decisions. The 6 different allowances are detailed in the Managers Bulletin.

Welcome New Members

Help us welcome our newest members to ASFMRA! We are thrilled that you have chosen ASFMRA as the organization to be affiliated with. Because of you, ASFMRA continues to grow and support rural property professionals across the nation!

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
Danny Blalock with International Farming Corporation in Jonesboro, AR (Mid-South Chapter)
Bridgette Burdick with Texas General Land Office in Austin, TX (Texas Chapter)
Vicente Guerrero in Rogers, AR (CA, CO, Mid-South, MO, & Northeast Chapters)
Leah Hartung with Land Services Appraisals LLC in Fairmont, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
William Lewis with Agri-Access in Windermere, FL (California and Florida Chapters)
Henry Ott with Tallgrass Appraisal Services in Madison, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Jeffrey Palmer in Ironside, OR (Oregon and Idaho-Utah Chapters)
Shelby Smith with Texas General Land Office in Austin, TX (Texas Chapter)
Ethan Turley with AgriFinancial in Louisville, KY (Kentucky Chapter)
Michael Wilson with Farm Credit Mid America in Niota, TN (Kentucky Chapter)

Also, congratulations to our members who recently earned their Accredited Farm Manager certification!

New AFMs
Tyler Ambrose with Farmers National Company in Yukon, OK
Jeremy Schreiber with Farmers National Company in Columbus, NE
Trevor Smith with Farmers National Company in Winfield, KS
R. Chase Sullivan with Farmers National Company in McCordsville, IN
Nicholas Watson with Farmers National Company in Grand Forks, ND


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!

Kenneth Brush, ARA
Jonathan Disney
John Martin Humes, ARA
William LeDuc
Mark McAnally, ARA
Addison Taylor, AFM

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