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ASFMRA Ag News - February 1, 2022

By ASFMRA Press posted 01-31-2022 07:17 PM


6666 Ranch Sells to Creator of "Yellowstone"

The legendary Four Sixes Ranch (often written as the 6666 Ranch) was recently sold for just under $200 million to a group that's believed to be led by Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan. Initial listings show that the owners sought more than $340 million for the 143,000-acre property.

The barn, cattle, mineral rights (oil), main house and more are part of the sale. Real estate broker Sam Middleton confirms to KVUE-TV that the property has sold, but didn't disclose the buyer.

For more than a year, Sheridan's name was attached to the buy, and after closing, the Fort Worth Report confirmed it was Sheridan's group who picked up the property. Portions of Season 4 of Yellowstone were filmed on the ranch, and a spinoff show set on the ranch is thought to be currently in production.

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Hefty Subsidy Needed for Adoption of Cover Crops

Only 5% of U.S. cropland is planted to cover crops amid debate over their financial benefits to farmers. Congress may need to offer a “sizable” subsidy to growers if it wants large-scale adoption of the farming practice, said two university economists.

Cover crops are a salient element in discussion of agriculture’s potential contribution to climate mitigation. Proponents say they sequester carbon in the soil while reducing soil erosion and nutrient runoff from fields during fallow seasons. As part of their “build back better” bill, House Democrats proposed payments equal to $25 an acre to farmers who plant cover crops, with an additional $5 an acre to landowners who allow tenants to plant the crops.

The Biden administration has announced a number of steps to encourage adoption of cover crops, most recently a partnership with three farm groups to double the use of cover crops on corn and soybean land, to 30 million acres.

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Study: Gas Prices Hindered Development on Ag Land

A new study found a steep decline in the development of forest and agricultural land from 2000 to 2015 compared to the previous two decades, which resulted in a broad shift towards denser development patterns throughout the U.S. A primary culprit was rising gas prices.

Researchers from Oregon State University, Montana State University and the U.S. Forest Service found that falling gas prices and, to a lesser extent, rising income levels, drove land development from 1982 to 2000.

Since 2000, income growth has been stagnant and gas prices have risen sharply. The researchers concluded gas price increases, more so than changes in income and population, the other two factors they analyzed, most significantly shaped the recent shift towards denser development.

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Proposed Solar Farm Concerns Rural Central Texas Residents

OCI Solar Power, a solar farm company based out of San Antonio, is facing pushback from the Crawford community for a proposed solar farm just outside the city limits.

Mark Perry and dozens of residents voiced their concerns over the proposed $115 million solar farm at their local school district’s board meeting Wednesday night. Perry claims he was offered money to give away some of his land for the project.

“They sent me a contract and they offered me a lot of money for it per acre,” he said.

The plant would be a 100 Megawatt facility, and the company has proposed the local school district to designate the farmland as commercial land for tax purposes.

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Sharp Decline in Farm Income Likely This Year

After reaching an eight-year high thanks to massive pandemic payments in 2021, net farm income — USDA’s gauge of profitability — is expected to fall precipitously this year. The USDA will make its first forecast of farm income on Friday.

Income would fall in the face of higher costs of production and federal payments that will be a fraction of last year’s $27 billion, according to analysts. Commodity prices and ag exports would remain strong but not high enough to offset the expiration of pandemic relief programs.

“Farmers will likely see a steep drop in net farm income in 2022 as many inputs costs have increased substantially over the last year and the likelihood of government payments is low,” wrote two Kansas State University economists in projecting Kansas farm income this year. It would be an abrupt change after record income for many farms in the state in 2021.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Coalition Urges “No Cuts to Crop Insurance”

A coalition of over 50 farm, insurance, and commodity organizations, including the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, sent identical letters to USDA Secretary Vilsack and Congressional appropriation and budget committee leaders last week. The letter urged the leaders to protect crop insurance from harmful cuts in the Administration and Congressional budget process.

Copy of letter here.

USDA Secretary Vilsack Testifies before House Agriculture Committee

USDA Secretary Vilsack testified for nearly 4 hours before the House Agriculture Committee January 20th. He answered a wide range of questions from Committee members after giving his opening statement.

Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-MN) did make a statement of support for the crop insurance program (around the 3:43:00 mark). Secretary Vilsack mentioned the new Post Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE) several times in response to questions about how USDA helping to offset high fertilizer costs. Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D-IA) asked Secretary Vilsack if the Risk Management Agency (RMA) is going to provide a Pandemic Cover Crop Payment for crop year 2022 (around 3:01:00 mark). The Secretary said RMA would be announcing that payment “very soon.”

Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) asked the Secretary for an update regarding the $10 billion in disaster assistance that was provided last September (around 31:42 mark). Secretary Vilsack said that for both the $750 million livestock assistance and the $9.25 billion crop disaster payments, USDA is working to prefill applications with existing USDA program data. For crops that data would come from RMA or from the FSA (NAP data) to streamline applications. He said payments should come this spring. Representative Scott pushed him on when this spring, but the Secretary wouldn’t provide a more specific timeline.

USDA Announces 2021 Work Highlights

Perhaps in anticipation of the House Agriculture Hearing, the USDA announced a series of “2021 Work Highlights” (all prior to the hearing). These include a summary related to combating climate change, creating “more and better markets,” and advancing equity. One summary, promoting food and nutrition security, was released after the hearing.

RMA Extends COVID Flexibilities through June 2022

Because of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) is extending program flexibilities until June 30, 2022 or later. Otherwise, these flexibilities were expiring this month.

Extended flexibilities include:

  • Allowing notifications to be sent electronically, including policy related information over the phone or other electronic methods to select policy elections by sales closing, acreage reporting and production reporting dates, including options, endorsements and their forms. Producers may sign electronically or within 60 calendar days.
  • Allowing producers to submit a request for a written agreement after the sales closing date.
  • Allowing producers with inability to physically sign a written agreement because of COVID-19 to do so after the expiration date.
  • Providing additional time for AIPs to accept Regional Office Determined Yield, Master Yield, and Irrigated Determined Yield requests for Category B (annual) crops.
  • Allowing AIPs to request a 30-day extension to submit Determined Yield requests for Category C (perennial) crops.
  • Waiving the witness signature requirement for approval of Assignments of Indemnity.

CRP Signup Open

USDA announced a general signup for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) starting January 31st and ending March 11th, 2022 at your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. A grassland signup will run from April 4th through May 13th, 2022. Producers and landowners enrolled 4.6 million acres into CRP signups in 2021, including 2.5 million acres in the largest Grassland CRP signup in history. There are currently 22.1 million acres enrolled, and FSA is aiming to reach the 25.5-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2022.

Gannon Named FPAC Chief of Staff

USDA Secretary Vilsack announced that Tim Gannon will be joining the Department as Chief of Staff to Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Robert Bonnie. You might remember Mr. Gannon was an Associate Administrator at the Risk Management Agency during the Obama Administration. So, he will bring some crop insurance experience to the Undersecretary’s office. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa.

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
David Balfour with Oregon Valuation Group in Portland, OR (Oregon Chapter)
Andrew Bryant in Noblesville, IN (Indiana Chapter)
Emily Dreves with GreenStone Farm Credit Services in Traverse City, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Wade Druin with Consulting and Appraisal Services in Sioux Falls, SD (South Dakota Chapter)
Olivia Gager with Greenstone FCS in Breckenridge, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Tyler Garrison with Capital Farm Credit in Henrietta, TX (Texas Chapter)
Nicholas Gray in Council Bluffs, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Reese Griffith with Capital Farm Credit in Lubbock, TX (Texas Chapter)
Marybeth Holliday in Athens, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Cameron Huey with Busey Ag Services in Decatur, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Emily Kaiser with Farm Credit Services of America in Lincoln, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Nathan Kaye with AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Fargo, ND (North Dakota Chapter)
Kimberly MacPherson with AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Stevens Point, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Zachary Moore with Rabo Diversified Services in Bickleton, WA (Washington Chapter)
Morea Shipley in Scottsbluff, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Jim Van Stensel in Grand Rapids, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Sarah Sweeney with Farm Credit East, ACA in Batavia, NY (Northeast Chapter)
Madison Thomas in Mt. Pulaski, IL (Illinois Chapter)
William Thompson with Valbridge in San Antonio, TX (Texas Chapter)
Samantha Vazzano in Marengo, IL (Iowa and Illinois Chapters)
Jace Ziegler with AgVantage Appraisal in Pendleton, OR (Oregon & Washington Chapters)

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!

Tyler Bowman, ARA
Brice Hedrick
Mitch Knudson, ARA
Mary Lou Kugel, ARA
Mickey Nixon, ARA
Jamie Renner
Alex Rhoda

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