Ag News

ASFMRA Ag News - March 30, 2021

By ASFMRA Press posted 03-28-2021 11:45 PM


In This Issue

Property Rights vs. Local Control? Renewables Bill Sparks Debate

A bill that would allow neighbors to block wind turbines and solar arrays in the rural corners of Ohio is sparking an intense debate over landowners’ rights and local control. The proposal making its way through the legislature would allow small groups of citizens to block solar and wind farms after they’re already permitted.

“People have a right to know how these projects are going to affect their landscape,” one of the sponsors, Sen. Rob McColley (R), said in a February statement announcing the legislation, Senate Bill 52. “This is not a universal blockage of these projects, but is simply giving the community a voice and ensuring their opinions are heard.”

Many farmers also testified against the legislation. A theme for them was property rights. “As a farmer, I take on all the risk brought by Mother Nature,” said Michael Lutmer of Highland County. “Diversification into a solar project represents a unique opportunity to supplement my volatile farming income with an income stream that is fixed over the life of the project.”

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$52.5M Announced to Protect NY Farmland

It was announced on Tuesday that a record $52.5 million is now available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program. This program will help farmers across the state protect valuable and at-risk farmland.

And, for the first time, the program will distribute $5 million to each of the state’s 10 economic development regions. This is the highest level of funding being offered in the program’s 25-year history.

“New York’s Farmland Protection program has been critical to helping to conserve thousands of acres of valuable farmland over the years and keep it forever in agriculture,” said Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. “I am proud of the innovative approaches the Department has taken to build on these successes and increase the program’s reach, including assisting our farmers to diversify their operations, transition ownership to the next generation, and now, expand eligibility criteria so even more farms qualify for the program. This, along with the record level of funding being offered today, will move us toward our next milestone of permanently protecting 100,000 acres of farmland in New York State.”

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Will Farmers Retire in 2021?

How are Illinois farmers retiring? Not like they used to.

In years past, a big health concern might have ended an older farmer’s career. Today that’s less likely to happen, and instead we see farmers phasing out of their operations over two or three years, giving up a few more leases and acres every year.

A typical progression of a farm operator retirement includes first letting go of high-cash-rent leases or lower-productivity farms. The next year, they might give up crop-share leases. Then after that, they could fully retire from owned acres. This strategy has many positive tax implications and benefits. But it wasn’t as desirable during the days of planting with an open cab tractor, finicky planter row markers and individual bags of seed.

Good times are giving older farmers more incentive to keep farming, thanks to the dramatic increase in crop prices over the last few months and last fall’s great tillage opportunities. The memories of a difficult 2020 growing season faded quickly with the prospects of a new and profitable year ahead.

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Tennessee Legislation Would Prevent Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land in the State

Legislation being considered in the Tennessee General Assembly looks to limit foreign ownership of farmland in the state.

SB1070/HB1451 is sponsored by Senator Frank S. Niceley (R--Strawberry Plains) and Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station). The bill states "a nonresident alien, foreign business, or foreign government, or an agent, trustee, or fiduciary thereof, shall not purchase or otherwise acquire agricultural land in this state."

For foreign businesses, governments, or nonresidents who already own agricultural land in the state, they can continue to own the land but starting July 1, 2021, they would be unable to purchase any more. If land is transferred to any of the categories of persons listed after July 1, 2021, they would have to divest themselves within two years of acquiring the land.

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Inside The Colorado Ranch That Tom Cruise Is Selling For $39.5 Million

Tom Cruise is selling his 320-acre ranch in Telluride, Colorado for $39.5 million in a mission that is hopefully possible. In 2014, the actor and producer shopped around the property for $59 million, according to Telluride Sotheby’s International Realty.

Stardom surged for Cruise in 1983 when he was 19 and slid into the hallway in Risky Business. Now in his fourth decade as one of the world’s most successful and wealthy actors, Cruise also owns homes in Beverly Hills and Clearwater, Florida.

Nestled deep within rolling meadows and mature forest, the Telluride home holds a lot of history for Cruise, according to It is where he enjoyed time with his children and much of his marriage to actress and producer Katie Holmes. It was also the location of his last major interview with Oprah, a follow-up to Cruise’s exuberant couch-jumping episode with Oprah in 2005. Oprah was so taken with his ranch and its views that she bought her own home nearby in 2016.

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Nebraska Ag Land Values Increase for Second Consecutive Year

The value of agricultural land in Nebraska increased by an average of 6% over the prior year, to a statewide average of $2,895 per acre, according to the preliminary findings of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s 2021 Farm Real Estate Market Survey. This marks the second consecutive year that agricultural land in the state has experienced an increase in average market value.

Land industry professionals who responded to the survey attributed the rise in Nebraska farm real estate values to current interest rate levels, crop prices and COVID-19 disaster assistance payments provided to operators across the state. These factors provided stability to the industry in the face of an economic shutdown and disruptions of supply chains.

“During periods of economic uncertainty, monitoring Nebraska farm and ranch real estate remains important to understanding how financial forces are impacting agricultural land markets across the state,” said Jim Jansen, an extension educator who co-authored the survey and report with Jeffrey Stokes, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

USDA Announces More than $12 billion in Pandemic Assistance for Producers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last Wednesday that the USDA has completed its review of the existing Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The review identified a number of gaps and disparities in how assistance was distributed as well as inadequate outreach to underserved producers and smaller and medium operations. As a result, USDA announced a 4-part pandemic assistance program. In reverse order they are:

Part-4 USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 payments starting April 5 for at least 60 days to give an opportunity to improve access and outreach to underserved producers to become eligible for CFAP 2 payments.

Part-3 USDA will make additional CFAP payments to producers as required by the FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted last December. These payments will be calculated by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and existing CFAP 1 or 2 recipients do not need to re-apply for them. The payments will start in April. These payments include:

  • An increase in CFAP 1 payment rates for cattle. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $1.1 billion to more than 410,000 producers.
  • Additional CFAP assistance of $20 per acre for producers of eligible crops identified as CFAP 2 flat-rate or price-trigger crops. This includes alfalfa, corn, cotton, hemp, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets and wheat, among other crops. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $4.5 billion to more than 560,000 producers.
Part-2 USDA will add $500 million of new funding to existing programs. The $500 million is disbursed over at least 8 different programs administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Part-1 USDA will dedicate at least $6 billion to develop a number of new programs or modify existing proposals using discretionary funding from the FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act and other coronavirus funding that went unspent by the Trump administration. Many of the new items will require some form of rulemaking, meaning it will take some time before the funding is available. The new programs will include assistance for:

  • Dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program or other means.
  • Euthanized livestock and poultry.
  • Biofuels.
  • Specialty crops, beginning farmers, local, urban and organic farms.
  • Costs for organic certification or to continue or add conservation activities.
  • Other possible expansion and corrections to CFAP that were not part of today’s announcement such as to support dairy or other livestock producers.
  • Timber harvesting and hauling.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crop and seafood producers, processors and distributors.
  • Improving the resilience of the food supply chain, including assistance to meat and poultry operations to facilitate interstate shipment.
  • Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities, including food donation and distribution through farm-to-school, restaurants or other community organizations; and
  • Reducing food waste.
ERS Publishes Statistical Analysis of Absent Landlords in Agriculture

The Economic Research Service (ERS) published a report this month analyzing the role of absent landlords in agricultural markets. According to the report, absent landlords have the potential to alter observed outcomes in agricultural real estate markets, rural employment markets, and engagement in conservation practices, given that the incentives they face may differ from operating or local nonoperator landlords. The study looks at the association between landlord absenteeism and multiple measures of long-term economic and agricultural health for the 25 most important agricultural States by cash receipts. You can read the report here.

President Biden to Release Infrastructure Proposal, FY 2022 Budget

With Congress in recess this week, President Biden will formally unveil an infrastructure proposal during a speech in Pittsburgh this Wednesday, which is expected to focus on investments in roads, bridges, public housing, schools, water, rural broadband, and manufacturing. It is expected to also include proposals to address climate change and tax increases to pay for the bill.

The Administration is also expected to release its budget proposal for FY 2022. While the full budget proposal will likely come later in April or early May, the initial “skinny budget” should provide top line spending numbers and broad domestic policy proposals. The budget should also indicate how the Biden Administration will pursue agricultural policy changes to combat climate change.

The infrastructure proposal, and a subsequent “human infrastructure proposal” from the Biden Administration, associated tax changes to pay for these plans, and the FY 2022 budget will be debated over the next several months in Congress and likely set the stage for a budget reconciliation process and omnibus appropriations bill later this fall.

House Votes to Waive PAYGO Rule

The House voted 246-175 to waive PAYGO requirements that would trigger from the newly enacted $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package. Twenty-nine Republicans joined all but one Democrat to approve the measure. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The cuts to mandatory spending, Medicare, USDA commodity and conservation programs and other mandatory spending programs, become automatic if Congress doesn’t waive PAYGO requirements under a 2011 budget law. Traditionally, crop insurance spending, which is largely mandatory, has not been subject to automatic sequestration cuts under the 2011 budget law.

USDA Seeks Public Input on Climate Change

USDA published a Federal Register Notice requesting public input on a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy on March 16. Comments are due by April 29. The Notice was directed by President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The Executive Order, signed January 27, states that, “America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels.” From those public comments, USDA will submit a plan of action to the Biden Climate Task force making recommendations for an agriculture and forestry climate strategy within 30 days of the comment deadline, so presumably no later than the end of May.

Senate Agriculture Committee Announces Subcommittee Members

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member, announced the new Subcommittee assignments for the 117th Congress. The Senate usually does not conduct business at the Subcommittee level but does occasionally hold Subcommittee hearings.

Senator Warnock (D-GA) will chair the Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade which has jurisdiction over crop insurance. Other Senate Democrats on the subcommittee are: Brown (D-OH), Durbin (D-IL), Smith (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lujan (D-NM). Senator Hoeven (R-ND) will be the ranking member of the Subcommittee. He is joined by fellow Republicans on the subcommittee: McConnell (R-KY), Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Tuberville (R-AL), Grassley (R-IA) and Thune (R-SD).


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
Isabella Amaya in Denair, CA (California Chapter)
Calvin Carlson in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Katherine Duffy in Pontiac, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Craig Hays with CBRE in Indianapolis, IN (Indiana Chapter)
Alan Hopkins with Pioneer/Corteva in Chatham, IL (Illinois & Indiana Chapters)
Shaun McNeil with Carolina Farm Credit in Granite Falls, NC (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
Alfonso Montoya with U.S. Department of Interior in Albuquerque, NM (New Mexico Chapter)
Mark Noble with Noble Ag Land Valuation in Nine Mile Fls, WA (Washington Chapter)
Megan Reasoner in Ames, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Angela Wright with Harvest Appraisals in Fredericksburg, PA (Northeast 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!

Chris Goss, ARA
Timothy Hansen, RPRA
John Marshall, AFM
Carrie Seidel
Lonnie Smith

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

In This Issue