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ASFMRA Ag News - February 15, 2022

By ASFMRA Press posted 02-14-2022 05:48 PM


Rapid Increase in Farmland Values in Central Plains

Fueled by strong farm income and low interest rates, farmland values soared more than 20% in the central Plains during 2021, according to a quarterly survey of ag bankers by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.

A majority of the lenders said they expected values to increase this year, but an equally large number “also indicated that farmland values were currently overvalued, suggesting there may still be future risks of declines,” said the regional Fed.

It was one of the few notes of caution during the rapid run-up in land values in the Farm Belt.

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USDA: 2021 Agricultural Exports Shattered Records

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that American agricultural industry posted its highest annual export levels ever recorded in 2021.

The final 2021 trade data published by the Department of Commerce this morning shows that exports of U.S. farm and food products to the world totaled $177 billion, topping the 2020 total by 18 percent and eclipsing the previous record, set in 2014, by 14.6 percent.

The United States’ top 10 export markets all saw gains in 2021, with six of the 10 — China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Colombia — setting new records. Worldwide exports of many U.S. products, including soybeans, corn, beef, pork, dairy, distillers grains and pet food, also reached all-time highs. China remained the top export destination, with a record $33 billion in purchases, up 25 percent from 2020, while Mexico inched ahead of Canada to capture the number two position with a record $25.5 billion, up 39 percent from last year.

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Online Land Auctions Enter New Role in Market

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that was the case for auctioneers and brokers during the pandemic lockdown. How do you get people together to buy property when people are no longer allowed to get together?

It turns out, you innovate.

Internet auctions are not a new thing. Back in the fall of 1995, eBay sold its first product, a broken laser pointer, and history was made. Internet real estate platforms surfaced around 1999, and the use of the internet for land transactions has been growing ever since.

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U.S. Poultry Producers Harden Safety Measures as Bird Flu Spreads

U.S. poultry producers are tightening safety measures for their flocks as disease experts warn that wild birds are likely spreading a highly lethal form of avian flu across the country.

Indiana on Wednesday reported highly pathogenic bird flu on a commercial turkey farm, leading China, South Korea and Mexico to ban poultry imports from the state. The outbreakput the U.S. industry on edge at a time that labor shortages are fueling food inflation.

The disease is already widespread in Europe and affecting Africa, Asia and Canada, but the outbreak in Indiana, which is on a migratory bird pathway, particularly rattled U.S. producers. A devastating U.S. bird-flu outbreak in 2015 killed nearly 50 million birds, mostly turkeys and egg-laying chickens in the Midwest.

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Is the Amount of Foreign-Owned Ag Land Secretly Rising?

“We should know who is buying up American’s farmland and for what purpose,” said Joe Maxwell, former Missouri lieutenant governor and current farmer (his perspective is questionable, though, and we’ll get to that in a moment).

Currently, federal law requires foreign entities to disclose to the U.S. Department of Agriculture information related to foreign investment and ownership of U.S. agricultural land. However, according to a video report from Investigate TV titled Secret Acres: Foreign-owned agricultural land inaccurately tracked by government, those disclosures are inaccurate. For example in Missouri, the report showed that no matches were found when comparing federal and county records.

“If we don’t have accurate information on who holds the title or who holds the deed, then we’re no longer even upholding the basic system of property rights in the United States,” said Loka Ashwood, a professor at the University of Kentucky who studies agricultural policy and rural trends.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

House Agriculture Committee Reviews Farm Policy

The House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee reviewed farm policy with USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Robert Bonnie last week. The subcommittee is chaired by Representative Bustos (D-IL around 3:12 mark) who in her opening remarks made positive statements about crop insurance. Other members who had questions about crop insurance or included positive statements were Representatives Craig (D-MN, around 23:54 mark), Carbajal (D-CA around 34:51 mark), Johnson (R-SD around 1:01:00 mark) and Mann (R-KS around 1:13:20 mark).

The headlines and tough questions for Mr. Bonnie from Republicans were about the USDA’s announcement (see article below) the previous day from Secretary Vilsack over the use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) use of $1 billion to establish climate smart conservation pilot projects. Full Committee Ranking Member G.T. Thompson (R-PA) expressed his frustration with USDA’s announcement around the 30:30 mark.

USDA Announces $1 Billion Climate Smart Initiative

USDA announced details of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity on February 7, 2022. The new program is funded with $1 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Through this new program, USDA will finance partnerships to support the production and marketing of climate-smart commodities via a set of pilot projects lasting one to five years. Pilots will provide technical and financial assistance to producers who implement climate-smart practices on a voluntary basis on working lands; pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and market the resulting climate-smart commodities. The Notice of Funding Availability can be found here.

House Passes Continuing Resolution to Keep Government Open

Last week the House of Representatives passed another continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2022 by a vote of 272 to 162, with 51 Republicans joining all Democrats but one to vote for the bill. The CR would fund the government for FY 2022 at FY 2021 levels through March 11, 2022. Appropriators on a bi-cameral, bi-partisan basis also announced they have finally reached an agreement on overall spending levels for FY 2022. The Senate is expected to pass the CR this week (current CR ends February 18th) while appropriations staff and members pull together an omnibus spending bill for FY 2022.

Cover Crop Benefit Renewed for 2022 by RMA

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced last week it is renewing the Pandemic Cover Crop Benefit ($5 per acre additional premium support) for crop year 2022. The agency published a regulation to implement the program last week as well. Cover crop acres must be reported to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) by March 15th, 2022. Eligible cover crops must be planted after June 15th, 2021, of the 2021 crop year or during the 2022 crop year. See the press release and regulation for further details.

USDA Provides Some Information Regarding Forthcoming Disaster Payments

USDA released a statement last week describing how it intends to roll out the ad hoc disaster assistance payments for livestock and crops covering 2020 and 2021 production. The payments are expected to start sometime late Spring of 2022. Recall, Congress made the funds available at the end of September 2021.

The payments for livestock and crop producers will be released in two phases according to USDA. The first phase will use existing data, crop insurance and Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) data for crop producers, and Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) data for livestock producers to make supplemental ad hoc disaster payments. The second phase for both will fill additional assistance gaps and cover eligible producers who did not participate in crop insurance, NAP or LFP programs.

In Memory: Ronald Dean Ratliff of Greenfield, Ohio

The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome Ronald D. Ratliff into the membership in 1978. Ron was an Associate member and he was recognized at the 2018 ASFMRA Annual Conference in Chandler, Arizona for his 40-years of membership. The ASFMRA has just learned that Ron passed away on January 28, 2022. He made many friends through his association with the Society who will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Nancy and their family. To learn more about Ron’s life, you can his obituary by clicking here.