Ag News

ASFMRA Ag News - March 2, 2021

By ASFMRA Press posted 03-01-2021 01:58 AM


In This Issue

A Different Kind of Land Management: Let the Cows Stomp

Adam Isaacs stood surrounded by cattle in an old pasture that had been overgrazed for years. Now it was a jumble of weeds.

“Most people would want to get out here and start spraying it” with herbicides, he said. “My family used to do that. It doesn’t work.”

Instead, Mr. Isaacs, a fourth-generation rancher on this rolling land in the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle, will put his animals to work on the pasture, using portable electrified fencing to confine them to a small area so that they can’t help but trample some of the weeds as they graze.

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Enrollment open for conservation mentorship for farmers

In the agriculture industry, we are always looking to better our surroundings and help out our neighbors. To continue that tradition, a new mentorship program is linking historically underserved farmers and ranchers with award-winning conservationists.

“There’s often a steep learning curve when it comes to adopting conservation practices in agriculture,” said Dr. Heidi Peterson, Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Research and Conservation. “Now historically underserved farmers and ranchers have access to a reliable network of conservation mentors.”

Since 2003, the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award has recognized nearly 150 farmers, ranchers and forestland owners nationwide for their efforts to improve soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded Sand County Foundation a Conservation Collaboration Grant to support this opportunity to empower award recipients as mentors.

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Texas Faces at Least $300 Million in Citrus Losses to Storm

Texas, the No. 3 U.S. citrus state, faces crop losses of at least $300 million due to this week’s unusual winter storm, Governor Greg Abbott said in a letter asking for assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The damage could further pressure food inflation, which is on the rise around the world due to hoarding of staple crops and supply chain disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texas storm and resulting power outages also killed calves in the top cattle-producing state, shut down meat plants and threatened crops such as oats.

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Cattle Ranch Beside Area 51 Listed for $4.5M

If you’ve ever wanted to live beside Area 51, now’s your chance.

A cattle ranch beside the top-secret military base in Alamo, Nevada, has recently hit the market for $4.5 million.

The 80-acre ranch -- which comes with cattle and equipment -- even has a grazing permit for 250 cows to go onto Area 51.

The property can support up to 750 cows and has a 5,600-square-foot hay barn, a 1,248-square-foot barn and a 576-square foot shop.

The ranch also includes two "newer manufactured homes": a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with a wraparound deck as well as a three-bedroom, two-bathroom guest house, the listing says.

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Farmland Insider: Kansas Auction of 10,900 Acres Sells for $38 Million

The numbers are staggering:

  • 10,935.17 acres
  • 41 tracts
  • 14 buyers
  • 91 bidders
  • $38 million changing hands
  • $3,464 per acre

“It definitely was a strong sale and exceeded expectations,” wrote Steve Bruere, owner of Peoples Company, in an email to Successful Farming.

The land – located in Seward and Stevens counties in southwest Kansas – featured a mix of center-pivot irrigated land, dryland, native grass, and land with improvements, including sheds, grain bins, and dwellings. Tract sizes ranged from 6.91 acres m/l to 1,085.87 acres, with 10,037.76 FSA cropland acres of which 1,609.45 acres m/l are enrolled in CRP with annual payments totaling over $48,000.

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Case Sets Precedent For Building Material Reuse Tax Charitable Valuation

Last month gave us another building material reuse charitable deduction case. The Fourth Circuit sustained a district court decision that entirely denied any charitable deduction to Lawrence and Linda Mann for material from the tear-down of a Bethesda, Maryland house that went to Second Chance a not-for-profit organization. In January 2020, the Tax Court had denied any deduction to Chad and Dana Loube for the material donated to Second Chance from the tear-down of their Potomac, Maryland home.

Both these decisions remind me a lot of what the IRS is doing with syndicated conservation easements. There are serious valuation problems, but the IRS ends going after the deduction on technical grounds. The Manns had taken the position that they had donated the whole house to Second Chance, which would have required the transaction to be recorded in the county land records. That theory had supported a $675,000 appraisal. They had a fallback appraisal of $313,353 that was based on all the material making up the house regardless of whether it was actually salvaged.

According to the district court decision the correct value would have been based on the resale value of the specific building materials that crossed the threshold of the Second Chance warehouse. Mike Gable of Build Reuse has outlined some best practices in a piece I published on Your Tax Matters Partner. The final step in his outline is a "complete inventory" that encompasses what the nonprofit takes possession of. That is what the basis for the appraisal should be.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

House Passes Coronavirus Relief Package

By a vote of 219-212 the House narrowly passed the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, at 2 am last Saturday morning. No House Republican voted for the bill; all but two House Democrats voted for it. The bill now moves to the Senate for Senate consideration. Senators are expected to make amendments, most notably raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour is not expected to survive the Senate as it has been ruled subject to a point of order by the Senate Parliamentarian and is not supported by at least two Senate Democrats, Senator Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Sinema (D-AZ).

The House relief package includes provisions to provide a third round of direct stimulus checks of up to $1,400 for individuals, $2,800 for married couples. Individuals with incomes of up to $75,000 and married couples earning up to $150,000 would be eligible for the full amounts, while the payments would phase out for individuals making up to $100,000 or $200,000 for couples.

The bill also includes a $400 weekly unemployment insurance boost through August 29, which is currently set to expire in March. $8.5 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to distribute, track and promote public confidence in Covid-19 vaccines. $350 billion for state and local governments, U.S. territories and tribal governments is included along with $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen for in-person classroom instruction, and an expansion of the child tax credit to $3,000 per child or $3,600 for children under six years of age.

Appraisers Comment to Federal Housing Finance Agency

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers joined the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), the National Society of Real Estate Appraisers (NSREA), and the Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers (MBREA) to provide comments to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in its request for comments regarding appraisal related policies, practices and processes. FHFA is looking to “modernize” appraisal practices and is seeking public comments as it considers changes. While these changes would apply only to residential appraisals, ASFMRA understands that residential appraisals drive change for all appraisal types and felt comments to FHFA were warranted. You can read our comments here.

Don’t Cut Crop Insurance

A broad coalition of 58 agricultural trade associations, including the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, signed and distributed a letter to the Administration, House and Senate Appropriation and Budget Committees last week. The letter urges the Administration and members of Congress to protect crop insurance from harmful cuts. You can read the letter here.

More USDA Appointments

USDA announced two additional personnel appointments in the Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area. Gloria Montaño Greene as Deputy Under Secretary for FPAC and the appointment of Zach Ducheneaux as Administrator of the Farm Service Agency (FSA). They started in their positions on Monday, Feb. 22.

Secretary Vilsack was confirmed by the Senate last week and is working remotely from Iowa for the next several weeks.

RMA Clarifies WHIP and WHIP+ Insurance Linkage Requirements

RMA issued Informational Memorandum OA-21-001 last Friday to clarify crop insurance linkage requirements for producers who have received a WHIP and/or WHIP+ payment. The WHIP and WHIP+ programs require a producer to purchase insurance coverage for the subsequent two crop years.

Crop insurance policies reinsured by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, including Whole-Farm Revenue Protection and written agreements, will meet the linkage requirement if the coverage level is at least 60/100 or equivalent. In addition, if a producer purchases HIP-WI, SCO, ECO, STAX or MP, the coverage will count towards meeting the WHIP and WHIP+ linkage requirement, provided the coverage or combination of coverages purchased meets or exceeds the 60/100 coverage level and they adhere to all other requirements of these programs.

Conservation Benefits Study

The Soil Health Partnership, a program of the National Corn Growers Association, the Environmental Defense Fund and K·Coe Isom released a report evaluating the financial impact of conservation tillage and cover crop usage by 7 Midwest corn and soybean producers farming 21,754 acres in Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The report does not discuss any role crop insurance plays in the adoption of conservation tillage or the use of cover crops.


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
Blake Arnold with Hertz Farm Management in Washington, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Cynthia Bean with Agri-Management Services in Marion, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Lyman Bercier with North Country Appraisals in Rolla, ND (North Dakota Chapter)
Anna Boomsma in Brookings, SD (South Dakota Chapter)
Randal Bradshaw with Department of Interior – AVSO in Vancouver, WA (Washington Chapter)
Dennis Cantrell with GreenStone Farm Credit Services in Galdwin, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Kendra Collier with Martens Appraisal in Wichita, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Elizabeth Ebert with American AgCredit in Eureka, CA (California Chapter)
Jess Hawkins with WY Office of State Lands and Investments in Fort Washakie, WY (Wyoming Chapter)
Kylie Hayden in Brookings, SD (South Dakota Chapter)
Ashley Huhn with Steffes Group in Litchfield, MN (Minnesota and Wisconsin Chapters)
Braden Ifft with Bank of Pontiac in Pontiac, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Lance Pachta with Farmers National Company in Hebron, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Hallie Padilla with Farm Credit of New Mexico in Las Cruces, NM (New Mexico Chapter)
Karley Phillips in Urbana, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Romy Rotteveel in Ontario, Canada (Ontario Chapter)
Kristin Sawinski with Kristin Sawinski Appraisals LLC in Latrobe, PA (Northeast Chapter)
Devin Shobe with CASC in Saint Marys, OH (Ohio Chapter)
Cody Stephan in Yuma, AZ (Arizona Chapter)
Dennis West with Backwoods Land Co in Brandon, MS (Mid-South Chapter)


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!

David Bartlett, ARA
Lyndsy Bock
Maria Boerngen
H. Keith Crow, ARA
Russell Forsburg, ARA
Brian Gatzke, ARA
Timothy Harpster, ARA
Andy Hubert, AFM
Ben Isaacson
Ryan McKnight
Trevor Milbourn

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

In Memory: Eugene Merkle, Loda, Illinois

Eugene W. Merkle, of Loda and formerly of Danforth, was born in Kankakee on July 19, 1929, the son of William C. Merkle and Emma E. Siemons Merkle. He passed away Friday (Feb. 19, 2021).

He attended the Merkle One Room Country School through March of his fifth-grade year. Then he attended the Kern One Room Country School through eighth grade. Both schools were in Danforth Township.

He graduated from Gilman High School in 1947, then worked one year before attending college. Several people had told him if he waited to go to college he would never get there, but his determination prevailed. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1952, earning a degree in agriculture economics with an emphasis in farm management.

Read the Full Obituary Here

In This Issue