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ASFMRA Ag News - July 20, 2021

By ASFMRA Press posted 07-19-2021 09:54 PM


In This Issue

Connecting Ranchers with Land Stewards Could Be Key to Less Disastrous Wildfires

As you read this, there are about 150 goats grazing their way through the grass and woodland areas surrounding Fitch Mountain, a local open space preserve in Healdsburg, California, an hour north of San Francisco. The goats will be there for the next few months, eating down the grasses and shrubs that would act as fuel for wildfires across 90 acres.

In a historically dry year, when nearly everyone in the West is bracing for another destructive wildfire season, these animals could be playing a key role in preventing the worst-case scenario. They get rid of the the “ladder fuels,” reducing the potential for burning ground cover to spread to the trees. And they also help protect the people and property in Healdsburg, which has seen major wildfires to the east and the west in recent years.

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Virginia’s Inspector General Finds Faults Within Conservation Tax Credit Program

A new report from Virginia’s Inspector General finds the Commonwealth is not getting the conservation efforts it’s been paying for.

Ben Sutphin, an Audit Manager with the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG), said the agency flagged this program for review after a suggestion by the Secretary of Natural Resources for its annual audit plan. Sutphin believes Virginia spends nearly all its $75 million annual cap on this type of property in tax credits per year.

The review focused specifically on easements valued between $500,000 and $999,999. When easements reach a value of $1 million, Sutphin said they are required to undergo a more thorough review. But for these less expensive easements, OSIG says it found instances where these pieces of land were not properly monitored for conservation, particularly when it came to water quality.

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Nebraska Ag Land Values Up 6 Percent Again

The market value of agricultural land in Nebraska increased 6% over the prior year to an average of $2,895 per acre, according to the final report from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s 2021 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey.

Rates of increase were highest in the north, northeast, central and southeast districts of the state, with average increases of 6% to 8% over the prior year. Western regions reported smaller increases, between 3% and 5%.

The survey revealed that current crop prices, interest rates and purchases for farm expansion contributed to higher land values, as did non-farm investor land purchases and federal farm program payments, according to respondents.

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Iowa Family That Once Hosted Khrushchev Will Sell 2,000 Acres, but Only to Buyers Who Agree to Care for It Like They Have

A family that famously hosted late Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev on their Iowa farm is auctioning off nearly 2,000 acres in west-central Iowa, a sale that will include a unique requirement that the buyers continue the owners' soil-health practices.

A conservation easement on the eight parcels the Garst family is selling near Coon Rapids will stipulate that the buyers must carry on the efforts to build soil health and prevent erosion.

Liz Garst, the family business manager, said Wednesday that the family over three generations has adopted land-management practices that include no-till farming, planting annual cover crops and maintaining existing terraces and waterways.

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Historic Tybar Ranch Outside of Carbondale, Colo. Sells for $12.55 Million

A high profile ranch outside of Carbondale that has been in the same family for four decades sold June 30 for $12.55 million.

The Tybar Ranch, formerly renowned for its research on Angus cattle in partnership with Colorado State University, was sold by owner Emma Danciger and the DKD 2004 Trust to Turnabout Ranch LLC, with a mailing address in Chappaqua, New York.

Tybar is one of the largest remaining ranches along Prince Creek Road, an area that is getting converted from agricultural lands to small subdivisions. Representatives of the Tybar previously said the water rights for the ranch date back to 1892 and it appears a portion of the ranch was homesteaded even earlier.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Senate Works Infrastructure Agreement, Budget Reconciliation Package

The Senate this week may take an early vote on a bipartisan infrastructure agreement. The details for the agreement have not been released and how the new spending is paid for remains a major sticking point. Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) is planning to start a procedural vote mid-week on the agreement.

A separate, Democrats only, budget reconciliation agreement totaling $3.5 trillion was announced last week by Senate Democrats. Again, like the infrastructure bill, details have not been released. Whether all 50 Democrats can come together and pass the budget bill remains to be seen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated the House will not take up any budget bill until after the Senate passes its version.

The budget proposal will likely include tax increases to pay for new spending. The Congressional budget is non-binding and if the reconciliation bill is passed, the various Congressional Committees would work to put the details of the package together and then combine it in a budget package that requires only 51 votes in the Senate to pass it. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow is pushing to include additional funding, possibly $50 billion, for USDA conservation programs. With only two weeks remaining before Congress starts its August recess, resolution of the budget reconciliation agreement will have to wait until the fall.

President Biden Releases Executive Order on Competition

President Biden issued a lengthy executive order with 72 specific points of action directed at three sectors of the economy: agriculture, technology and health care. The agriculture points of action, in part, direct USDA to:

  • Consider initiating a rulemaking or rulemakings under the Packers and Stockyards Act to strengthen the Department of Agriculture’s regulations concerning unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practices and undue or unreasonable preferences, advantages, prejudices, or disadvantages. The rulemaking should provide clear rules that identify recurrent practices in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries that are unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive and therefore violate the Packers and Stockyards Act.

  • Consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear ‘Product of USA’ labels, so that consumers have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to choose products made here.

  • Develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmers markets and developing standards and labels so that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers fairly.

  • Submit a report enumerating and describing any relevant concerns of the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, regarding the intellectual property system, and whether it reduces competition in seed and other input markets beyond that reasonably contemplated by the Patent Act.
The order also encourages the Federal Trade Commission to limit equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do-it-yourself repairs, for example, making it difficult for farmers from repairing their own tractors.

Link to White House Fact Sheet on Statement.

USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance to Livestock Producers

Livestock and poultry producers who suffered losses during the coronavirus pandemic due to insufficient access to processing can apply with the Farm Service Agency for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals under the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP). Eligible livestock must have been depopulated from March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020, due to insufficient processing access as a result of the pandemic. Livestock must have been physically located in the U.S. or a territory of the U.S. at the time of depopulation.

Eligible livestock owners include persons or legal entities who, as of the day the eligible livestock was depopulated, had legal ownership of the livestock. Packers, live poultry dealers and contract growers are not eligible for PLIP. PLIP payments compensate participants for 80% of both the loss of the eligible livestock or poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal based on a single payment rate per head.

There is no per person or legal entity payment limitation on PLIP payments. To be eligible for payments, a person or legal entity must have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $900,000 for tax years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

House Agriculture Committee Passes Broadband Bill, Eyes Disaster Program

The House Agriculture Committee approved HR 4374, the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act, by a unanimous voice vote. The bill would authorize $43 billion over eight years to bring broadband service to hundreds of thousands of families and businesses that lack access now. The bulk of the money would go to loans, grants, and loan guarantees for the construction or improvement of internet service in small towns and rural areas with poor or no service. The bipartisan bill is subject to appropriations, so the appropriators would have to fund it as part of the annual appropriations cycle.

The House Agriculture Committee is also working to mark-up a WHIP+ like ad hoc disaster bill to cover losses from crop years 2020 and 2021. As of today, no markup hearing date has been set by the committee but it could come as early as this week.

RMA Changes Ability to Hay, Graze, Chop Cover Crops on Prevented Planted Acres

Last week the Risk Management Agency announced that producers can hay, graze or chop cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage at any time and still receive 100% of the prevented planting payment. Previously, cover crops could only be hayed, grazed or chopped after November 1, otherwise the prevented planting payment was reduced by 65%. The change applies to the 2021 crop year and subsequent crop years.

The November 1 date has long been the subject of complaints by farm groups and legislators, particularly from northern states with shorter growing seasons. RMA has previously provided relief on an annual basis to allow earlier grazing, chopping or haying. This change is permanent.

In its press statement RMA said: RMA added this flexibility as part of a broader effort to encourage producers to use cover crops, an important conservation and good farming practice. Cover crops are especially important on fields prevented from planting as they help reduce soil erosion and boost soil health. Combined with the earlier announcement of the Pandemic Cover Crop Program, the Biden Administration is putting a premium on cover crop incentives via crop insurance as well as programs administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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
Theodore Brenny with Compeer Financial in Rochester, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Troy Dukes with Hertz Farm Management in Sycamore, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Carol Fowler with Farm Credit of the Virginias in Wytheville, VA (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
Laura Heinz in Fresno, CA (California Chapter)
Devin Lansing with Hertz Farm Management in Mount Vernon, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Jennifer Menzynski with Investors Community Bank in Elm Grove, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Brynna Muzio in Fresno, CA (California Chapter)
Gregg Neu with Neu Real Estate in Ortonville, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Michael Rhoda with First Mid Ag Services in Bloomington, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Lucas Riesenberg in Carroll, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Jackson Roth with Hertz Farm Management in Cedar Falls, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Caleb Schroeder with Farm Credit Services of America in Harlan, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Jane Wood in Creston, CA (California Chapter)

Also, a special congratulations is due to Rebecca J. Rutan from Nampa, Idaho, for recently acquiring her Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation!

Share Your Experience - Make a Referral

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!

Jeannie Fetrow
Julie Gonsalves
Daniel Patten, AFM
Steven Porter
Morgan Troendle, AFM
JoAnn Wall, ARA
Andrew Warner
Tyler Weaver

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

In Memory: Leo H. Smith, Red Oak, Iowa

The ASFMRA was honored to welcome Leo into the membership in 2000. He maintained his Associate membership and Iowa Chapter membership. The Society has just learned that Leo passed away on July 11, 2021. He was a “regular” at the Iowa Chapter meetings. You can view more on Leo’s life by clicking here. Leo made many friends through his association with the ASFMRA and he will be missed greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Cards can be sent to: Sarah Smith – 1186 210th Street; Red Oak, IA 51566.

In This Issue