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ASFMRA Ag News - August 17, 2021

By ASFMRA Press posted 08-16-2021 10:13 PM


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Agricultural Real Estate Values Jump 7%, Largest Increase Since 2012

The Land Values 2021 Summary report, released last Friday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, shows agricultural land values increasing at a rate not seen in nearly a decade. This report and its contents provide one of many indicators of the overall health of the agricultural economy and help paint a picture of costs that farmers face as they negotiate rent levels for the near future.

The U.S. average farm real estate value, a measurement that includes the value of all land and buildings on farms, clocked in at a record $3,380/acre. This 7% increase over last year represents a percentage change not seen since 2014 when values increased 8% over the previous year. In looking at the dollar value of the change, this is a $220/acre increase over 2020, a level not seen since 2012.

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How Soil Health Practices Boost the Bottom Line

Farmers who use practices that improve soil health also save input costs and are more profitable. That’s the bottom line from a study of 100 farmers in nine top corn and soybean producing states that researchers from the nonprofit Soil Health Institute (SHI) conducted, with support from Cargill, Inc.

The study, “Economics of Soil Health on 100 Farms,” sought to discover whether the agronomic benefits of better soil health had favorable economic benefits, says Wayne Honeycutt, SHI president and CEO.

Positive results resulted for nearly all farms studied. Net income per acre improved by an average of $51.60 per acre for corn and $44.80 per acre for soybeans. The study excludes any subsidies, such as conservation cost share payments for cover crops.

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California Almond Growers Look to Future Amidst Water Woes

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged over the last year, California's almond industry has thrived. Now, new water restrictions due to the West's historic drought could turn the more than $6 billion dollar industry's luck for the worse after the state's Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency resolution that empowers regulators to halt diversions from the state’s two largest river systems.

The order could apply to around 86% of landowners who have legal rights to divert water from the San Joaquin and Sacramento river watersheds. The remaining 14% could be impacted if conditions worsen.

As demand increases, critical water resources in the state continue to dry up and California made the decision Thursday to shut down the Edward Hyatt Power Plant, one of its largest hydropower plants.

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Kelly Clarkson Wants to Sell Montana Ranch Where Ex Still Lives

According to a new report, Kelly Clarkson is eager to move forward with the sale of the ranch in Montana where her estranged husband, Brandon Blackstock, is currently living, and now the legal way is clear for her to do so.

TMZ reports that Clarkson was filming on the set of The Voice on Wednesday (Aug. 11) when she received an email saying that a judge in her ongoing divorce proceedings against Blackstock had ruled that the couple's prenuptial agreement was valid.

Sources tells TMZ in a new exclusive that Clarkson has long wanted to sell the Montana ranch where Blackstock is currently living as he plans a career change from talent agent to full-time rancher, but his lawyers had objected, saying he had the legal right to stay until his challenge to their prenup had been decided.

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First-Ever Water Shortage on the Colorado River Will Bring Cuts for Arizona Farmers

The federal government on Monday declared a first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, announcing mandatory cutbacks next year that will bring major challenges for Arizona farmers and reduce the water allotments of Nevada and Mexico.

The declaration of a shortage by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been anticipated for months and was triggered by the spiraling decline of Lake Mead, which stores water used by Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.

The reservoir near Las Vegas has fallen to its lowest levels since Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s and is continuing to drop after years of chronic overuse and drought intensified by climate change. It now stands at just 35% of full capacity.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY2022 Agriculture Spending Bill with Ad Hoc Disaster Payments

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2022 agriculture spending bill by a vote of 25 to 5. There is no agreement in the Senate on topline spending allocations for FY 2022, so it is unlikely the bill will be put on the Senate floor for a vote any time soon. With FY 2021 ending September 30, 2021, Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down at the end of September.

The Senate agriculture spending bill includes $7.03 billion for ad hoc disaster payments for crop years 2020 and 2021 of which $750 million is allocated to livestock producers, leaving $6.28 billion for ad hoc crop disaster payments. The funding is designated as emergency spending, meaning it is not offset.

Recall the House passed FY2022 agriculture spending bill includes no funding for crop disaster payments, but the House Agriculture Committee did recently pass a bill authorizing disaster payments at $8.5 billion for crop years 2020 and 2021. There are differences between the House and Senate disaster authorities which will need to be worked out before final agreement regarding disaster funding. Look for this to occur later this fall with funding most likely included in a final mini- or omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the year.

Senate Passes Bi-partisan Transportation Bill, Partisan Budget

Last week the Senate passed a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill in a 69-30 vote (all Democrats and 19 Republicans) that includes significant investments and provisions related to improving highways, bridges, ports, water ways, public transportation, broadband, clean energy, community resilience, natural infrastructure and forest health. The Senate also passed a partisan $3.5 trillion human infrastructure budget framework in a 50 to 49 vote. Both measures move to the House for consideration. The House is scheduled to return August 23rd to vote on the budget framework. The Senate returns to D.C. September 13th.

The fate of the two bills is intertwined. House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated she will not allow a vote on the bipartisan transportation bill in the House until the partisan budget process is completed. With only a 5-vote majority in the House, she must thread the needle between moderate Democrats urging for quick passage of the transportation bill versus her progressive members who clamor for the passage of the partisan budget. Assuming the Democrats pass the budget framework next week, completing the details for the $3.5 trillion package will take considerable time with each respective committee expected to contribute language for the spending under its jurisdiction.

The Agriculture Committee, under the Senate passed budget framework has $135 billion over 10 years to allocate. Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans are urging Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to hold hearings on the additional spending. She has indicated since the Republicans aren’t likely to vote for the budget reconciliation package, she isn’t inclined to seek their input. The bulk of the spending is expected to go toward nutrition, research and conservation programs administered by USDA.

USDA Increases SNAP Benefits Starting October 1

The Biden administration announced today a revised Thrifty Food Plan that sets nutrition standards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and that average benefits will rise more than 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels. As directed by Congress in the 2018 farm bill, the USDA conducted a data-driven review of the Thrifty Food Plan. The resulting cost adjustment is the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances over the past 45 years.

In Memory

Donald L. Jones, AFM-Retired – Fort Morgan, Colorado
The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome Don into the membership in 1978 as an Associate member. Don obtained his Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) designation in 1990. He maintained his Accredited membership until he transferred to the Retired membership classification in 2017. Don served on the ASFMRA Management/Consulting Education/Accreditation Committee as well as the ASFMRA Bylaws Committee. Don was also a supporter of the Education Foundation and he was an Education Foundation Advocate. The Society has just been notified that Don passed away. He made many friends through his association with the ASFMRA who will miss him greatly. His family is in our thoughts and prayers. See more of Don’s life by clicking here.

Harry LeMoyne – Twin Falls, Idaho
The ASFMRA has just been notified of the passing of Harry LeMoyne. Many of the ASFMRA members knew Harry as he was father to Henri LeMoyne, ARA-Retired. Harry passed away peacefully at his home on Monday, August 9, 2021. He will be missed greatly by many. Harry’s family is in our prayers and thoughts. You can view more information on Harry’s life here.

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