ASFMRA Ag News - November 24, 2020

By ASFMRA Press posted 11-23-2020 23:53


USDA Exempts Family Farms From Limit on Farm Subsidy Recipients

In a reversal, the USDA said on Wednesday that family-run farms are not subject to a rule that tightens eligibility standards for crop subsidies — the opposite of what it announced three months ago. A small-farm advocate criticized the “correction,” which applies to the bulk of U.S. farms, as a violation of the rule-making process and encouraged the incoming Biden administration to void it.

At issue was an Aug. 24 regulation that requires people to perform at least 500 hours of active management or at least 25 percent of the management work needed in a year on a farm in order to qualify for a subsidy check as a manager. Almost 96 percent of farms in America are family-owned, so the new standard was hailed by reformers as a step against farm program abuse.

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Iowan Takes Helm of National Land Association

A farm manager and rural appraiser from northwest Iowa, Dennis Reyman, was installed as the 84th president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers on Nov. 9 in a nationwide virtual conference. Reyman is a partner at Stalcup Ag Service in Storm Lake, and has worked for the farm management, appraisal and real estate company for 27 years.

Reyman served as president of the Iowa Chapter of ASFMRA in 2009, was the Education Foundation president in 2010; and co-chaired ASFMRA’s Government Relations Committee, directing their annual Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., from 2008 to 2019.

“I have great appreciation for Dennis and other Iowans who are involved in the field of farm management, rural appraisal and real estate sales,” says Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation and former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “They are a very important part of our ag economy and Dennis has huge respect within the industry. Congratulations on a wonderful contribution to agriculture and especially to your contribution over the next year as president of the ASFMRA.”

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Value of Good Farmland Continues to Rise

Ag bankers in the Midwest reported the largest year-over-year increase in agricultural land values, 2%, since 2014, said the Chicago Federal Reserve on Thursday. The Kansas City Federal Reserve said land values rose by 1% to 3% in the Plains, with the value of ranchland and non-irrigated cropland rising the most.

“Indiana and Wisconsin led the way with year-over-year jumps in their farmland values of 6% and 3%, respectively; the growth in farmland values in Illinois (2%) and Iowa (1%) was more modest,” said the Chicago Fed in its quarterly AgLetter. The regional Fed covers Iowa, southern Wisconsin, the northern two-thirds of Illinois and Indiana, and Michigan except for the Upper Peninsula.

Congress has tried since 1987 to limit crop subsidy payments to those “actively engaged” in farming, defined as providing land, funding, or equipment to an operation as well as performing labor or management. But there have always been ways to get around the limits. The maximum payment per person is $125,000 a year. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office reported finding a farming operation that had received $651,000 in subsidies in 2012, with 16 of its 22 members claiming they had provided active management.

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Will the West Figure Out How to Share Water?

In Crowley County, Colorado, sugar beets and alfalfa used to line the fields. Its cantaloupes were famous.

But that all changed about three decades ago when most of the farmers sold their water rights to rapidly growing cities on the Front Range.

“I guess it was hard for farmers to pass up on what seemed back then like a windfall,” said Matt Heimerich, one of the few people who still farms in Crowley.

Crowley County relied on water from the nearby Arkansas River and had over 50,000 acres of irrigated farmland until a spate of water sales took place in the ’70s and ’80s. (An acre-foot of water is enough to meet the needs for two families in a year.)

By 2002, only about 6,000 irrigated acres remained, and by 2017, the number had dropped to roughly 4,600.

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'Very Stressful': COVID-19 Surge Slices U.S. Demand for Big Thanksgiving Turkeys

All summer, Greg Gunthorp slaughtered and froze 15- to 24-pound turkeys on his northeastern Indiana farm for Thanksgiving sales to retailers, restaurants and families across the Midwest.

But as surging COVID-19 cases prompted U.S. cities and states to urge Americans to stay home just weeks before the holiday, customers swapped out orders for whole birds for smaller turkey breasts.

As a last-minute shift toward small-scale celebrations upends demand for the star of Thanksgiving tables, turkey producers and retailers are scrambling to fill orders for lightweight birds and partial cuts.

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Promoting Trust for Fair and Affordable Housing

The Appraisal Foundation and Appraisal Institute are pleased to host a joint valuation symposium: Promoting Trust for Fair and Affordable Housing. This free symposium gives real estate appraisers the opportunity to hear from leaders from across the appraisal profession, mortgage lending, and academia in a discussion on fair and affordable housing issues. Discussion topics include the latest research on fair and affordable housing, impact and innovation in the appraisal process, and potential legislative, regulatory and financing solutions that can promote community and economic development.


  1. Exploring Recent Valuation Research
  2. Recognizing the Past and Valuing the Future
  3. On the Horizon: A Sneak-Peek at the 117th Congress and the Next Administration
  4. Moving forward – Innovative Financing

*Please note that you must register for each session separately.

Info and Registration Here

Rod Lewis Sells Last Dollar Ranch for $17 Million

Colorado’s Last Dollar Ranch—whose picturesque vistas have been used over the decades to peddle Marlboro cigarettes and Budweiser beer—has sold for just under $17 million, according to people with knowledge of the transaction.

Located on Hastings Mesa about 20 miles outside Telluride, the deal includes nearly 700 acres, according to Jeff Buerger of Hall and Hall, the real-estate agent who handled the off-market transaction. The ranch includes a Victorian-style house, a barn and other structures built to look as they would have in the Old West. "They’re a step back in time," Mr. Buerger said.

Over the years the ranch has appeared in a number of television commercials, including a 2005 Super Bowl ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales having a snowball fight. "The Last Dollar Ranch is a very iconic place in Telluride," Mr. Buerger said. "Literally hundreds of people will line up on the road in the fall there to take photos."

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

ASFMRA Urges Action on Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act

ASFMRA joined 10 other appraisal and conservation organizations in a joint letter to House and Senate leadership urging Congress to pass the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act this year before Congress Adjourns.

You can find a PDF of the letter here.

Representatives Scott, Costa vie for House Agriculture Committee Chair

Representative David Scott (D-GA) and Jim Costa (D-CA) have both indicated they would like to be the next Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Mr. Scott has the longer seniority and the endorsement of outgoing Chairman Collin Peterson as well the endorsement of the 3rd most senior Democrat on the Committee, Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The Democrats Steering Committee along with its leadership will make the determination in early December.

Representative Fudge has indicated she is interested in becoming Secretary of Agriculture in the Biden Administration. Others expressing an interest in the USDA position include former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL).

House/Senate Leadership Selected for next 117th Congressional Session

Democrats and Republicans selected their leadership teams last week for the 117th Congressional Session with no changes in the top leadership positions from the 116th Congressional Session. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is nominated to return as Speaker, with a formal vote to occur in January, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected minority leader by the Republicans. In the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) returns as leader of the Republicans with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leading the Democrats. The two Georgia Senate runoff elections will determine who is Majority and who is Minority leader in the Senate. Currently, the Democrats have 222 House seats, and the Republicans have 207 with six races still to be determined.

Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance Announced

Last week farm and conservation organizations announced a set of recommendations to guide the development of federal climate policy. The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) was formed in February 2020 by four groups that now co-chair the alliance: the American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and National Farmers Union. The alliance has since expanded to include FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and The Nature Conservancy.

The group developed more than 40 recommendations based on three principles: agricultural and forestry climate policies must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities; they must promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities; and they must be science-based.

The document includes one crop insurance related recommendation, a USDA study on the interaction between crop insurance and soil health practices. More detail on the crop insurance proposed study can be found on page 17 of the report.

USDA Announces CRP Signup

USDA announced the signup periods for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the CRP Grasslands in 2021. Signup for general CRP will be open from Jan. 4, 2021, to Feb. 12, 2021, and signup for CRP Grasslands runs from March 15, 2021 to April 23, 2021.

FSA Corrects Rule for Family Farm Operators

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) last week published a correcting amendment rule in the Federal Register. FSA corrected an error in its previous regulation published in August concerning payment eligibility for farm programs. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said, “These revisions mean that members of family farm operations are not subject to the more stringent management requirements applicable to farming operations comprised of non-family members established in the 2014 Farm Bill and further supported by the 2018 Farm Bill.”

The revised regulation means that there are no changes in eligibility requirements for farms consisting solely of family members or non-family farms except that the former category now encompasses farms that include nieces, nephews, and first cousins per the 2018 farm bill. The previous regulation violated the law by subjecting family farms to regulations meant only for non-family farm operations.

ECO Now Available for Spring 2021 Crops

Last week the Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced a new Federal Crop Insurance product, the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO), which will be available for 31 spring-planted crops for the 2021 crop year and is expected to be available for additional crops starting in the 2022 crop year.

ECO allows policyholders to purchase additional area-based coverage for a portion of the deductible for their underlying yield- or revenue-based crop insurance policy. ECO must be purchased as an endorsement to the Yield Protection, Revenue Protection, Revenue Protection with the Harvest Price Exclusion, Actual Production History or Yield-Based Dollar Amount of Insurance policy.

ECO provides coverage in bands from 86% to a choice of either 90 or 95% of expected yield or revenue. ECO pays a loss on an area basis, and an indemnity triggers when the county level yield or revenue drops below 90 or 95% of its expected level. There is an additional premium associated with ECO coverage, and premium subsidies are offered to make the policy more affordable. Unlike the Supplemental Coverage Option, ECO coverage is unaffected by Agriculture Risk Coverage participation for the same crop, on the same acres.


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
Alexander Angel in Fort Wayne, IN (IL, IN, MI, and WI Chapters)
Nicholas Cadigan with American AgCredit in Santa Rosa, CA (California Chapter)
Nicholas Cuchetti with Peoples Company in Clive, IA (Missouri and Mid-South Chapters)
Reece Davis in Carbondale, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Leighton Dill in Stillwater, OK (California and Oklahoma Chapters)
Samantha Fleming in Lee, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Eric Geiger with Peoples Company in Omaha, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Tyler Grace in Ringling, OK (Oklahoma Chapter)
Dalton Hamm with Hertz Farm Management in Mason City, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Stuart Holtzman with Holtzman Appraisal & Cnslt Svc in Glen Allen, VA (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
John King with Holthouse Appraisal Group/King Appraisal & Consulting in Casper, WY (Wyoming Chapter)
Matthew Kruse, AFM with Genesis Investimentos in West Des Moines, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Ronald LeMay with Main Street Data Corp in Kansas City, MO (Missouri Chapter)
Treyton Nienhueser in Stromsburg, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Stephen Perry in Denver, CO (Colorado Chapter)
Brady Price with Price Is Right Properties in Vineyard, UT (Idaho-Utah Chapter)
Larry Russell in Kennewick, WA (Washington Chapter)
Philip Swartz with Appraisal Review Specialists, LLC in North Myrtle Beach, SC (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
Mary Thomas with Texas General Land Office in Austin, TX (Texas Chapter)
Yesenia Ventura Ramirez in Bakersfield, CA (California Chapter)

Also, we'd like to congratulate Bessie Richmond, ARA, who recently earned her Real Property Review Appraiser (RPRA) designation! Ms. Richmond is currently based out of Jonesboro, Arkansas, and works for Farm Credit Midsouth.


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!

Calvin Dickson, AFM
Robert Greeno, AFM, ARA
Benjamin Harman, ARA
Russell Hiatt, AFM, ARA
Michael Lauher, AFM
Mark McAnally, ARA
Greg Mills
Greg Snyder, ARA
Cody White

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

In Memory: John V. Nissly and Ronald D. Johnson

John V. Nissly, Iowa Falls, Iowa

The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome John into the membership in 1951. During his membership with the Society, John obtained his Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) designation and later in his membership, he transferred to the Retired membership classification. He was honored at the 2016 ASFMRA Annual Conference in Indian Walls, California for his 65 years of membership. ASFMRA has just learned that John passed away on Saturday, November 14, 2020 and he was surrounded by his family. John and his son Mike (also an ASFMRA Accredited member who holds the AFM) worked together at Nissly & Nissly. John made many friends through his association with the Society who will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Memorial donations can be sent to Post Office Box 606; Iowa Falls, IA 50126. The donations will be given to either Ellsworth College Foundation or the First United Methodist Church of Iowa Falls.

Ronald D. Johnson, Cedar Falls, Iowa

The ASFMRA is sad to learn of the passing of Ronald D. Johnson, who died Friday, October 30, 2020 at the Western Home Communities-Thalman Square. He was a Professional Farm Manager, Rural Appraiser, Real Estate Broker and owner/CEO of Midland Farm Management from 1977-1990 and then was with Hertz Farm Management from 1991 until his retirement in 1994. Ron was a longtime member of the Iowa Chapter of the ASFMRA, and served as Chapter President. We offer our sincere condolences to his family.

You can find a full obituary here.