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ASFMRA Ag News - May 10, 2022

By ASFMRA Press posted 05-09-2022 05:33 PM


Strengthened Commodity Prices; But High Cost Inflation Worries Farmers

The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer improved in April to a reading of 121, which was 8 points higher than a month earlier. Despite this month’s increase, the ag sentiment index remains 32% lower than its April 2021 reading.

This month’s modest rise in the barometer was attributable to an improvement in ag producers’ perspective on their current situation as well as what they expect for the future. The Index of Current Conditions rose 7 points to a reading of 120 while the Index of Future Expectations rose 9 points to an index value of 122. Similar to the barometer, both the current conditions and future expectations indices remain well below year ago levels.

Ongoing strength in commodity prices appeared to be responsible for the modest sentiment improvement, although producers’ concerns about both rising input costs and their difficulties in procuring inputs continues to hold back sentiment. The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer sentiment index is calculated each month from 400 U.S. agricultural producers’ responses to a telephone survey. This month’s survey was conducted from April 18-22, 2022.

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High Commodity Prices Shift Conservation Lands to Crop Fields

Landowners told the USDA they will take 1.7 million acres out of the long-term Conservation Reserve and put it back into crop production, betting on profits from sky-high commodity prices. This year’s “general sign-up” for the reserve would also bring the smallest amount of land into the reserve since it was created in 1985, the USDA said Tuesday.

The shift toward crop production complicates the Biden administration’s goal of relying on conservation lands to help slow global warming by sequestering carbon in plants and the soil. USDA had aimed to expand the Conservation Reserve to this year’s cap of 25.5 million acres from its current 22.1 million acres.

“Our conservation programs are voluntary and at the end of the day, producers are making market-based decisions as the program was designed to allow and encourages,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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A Montana Ranch for Sale Hits the Market for the First Time in 133 Years

Set in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains and spanning over twelve miles of contiguous private acres, the Lucas Ranch is a fourth-generation Montana ranch for sale, which until now has never been offered on the open market.

“It is not often that we see large multigenerational ranches become available in today’s market. The Lucas Ranch in particular, given its size, contiguous nature, recreational attributes, and proximity to cultural amenities, will likely stand out and draw interest,” says Live Water Montana Ranch Broker Dan Mahoney. “I am excited to be representing a wonderful family in this sale as they begin their next chapter and look forward to finding the new owner to carry on a ranching legacy here in the foothills of the Crazies in Montana.”

Located less than 60 miles from the trendy and popular town of Bozeman, MT, the Lucas Ranch is one of the most significant land offerings on the market today and consists of 8,134-acre of diverse terrain on the western slope of the Crazy Mountains. The historic cattle ranch for sale has extensive water rights, some of which date back to the 1890’s. Irrigated farmland ascends to expansive rolling pasture divvied by multiple creek drainages. Above it all stands timbered slopes of lodgepole, ponderosa, and aspen with incredible views of the five surrounding mountain ranges. A family run 500 pair cow-calf operation is supported by ample hay production and extensive acreage for grazing. The ranch is a haven for wildlife, and the topography and vegetation throughout the acreage provide world class elk hunting.

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Ohio Farmers Work to Keep Algae-Causing Nutrients Out of Water

Duane Stateler's Hancock County farm is a showcase for conservation practices, many of them designed to keep nitrogen and phosphorus out of drinking water.

Stateler's property has — among other things — a monitoring system in nearby waterways, phosphorus removal beds, a drainage management structure, and cover crops to keep the soil in place after the primary crops are harvested.

“Our soil health has come a lot further than we thought it would," Stateler told several dozen agricultural specialists and academics he hosted on a recent tour of his farm.

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22% Of U.S. Corn, 12% Of Soybeans Planted

U.S. corn and soybean planting lagged again last week. That was due to more wet, cooler than normal weather in some key growing areas, but forecasts for most of the Midwest this week have warmer, drier conditions, which should help planting pick up steam.

The USDA says 22% of U.S. corn had been planted as of Sunday, compared to the five-year average of 50%, with 5% emerged, compared to 15% on average.

12% of soybeans are planted, compared to 24% normally in early May, with 3% emerged, compared to 4% on average.

29% of U.S. winter wheat is in good to excellent shape, 2% above a week ago, with 33% of the crop headed, compared to the usual rate of 40%.

27% of spring wheat has been planted due to wet, cold conditions in the northern U.S. Plains, compared to 47% typically this time of year, with 9% emerged, compared to the five-year average of 15%.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Biden Administration Includes Crop Insurance in Ukraine Assistance Request

The Biden Administration sent a supplemental emergency request to Congress for $33 billion in additional spending to assist Ukraine. Included in the request is $500 million in additional farm support to bolster domestic food production. Of the $500 million, $100 million would be used to provide a $10 per acre incentive paid through discounted crop insurance premiums on a soybean crop planted after a winter wheat crop in 2023. The proposal does not appear to change crop insurance double cropping rules, so it would be limited geographically.

The other part of the proposal (estimated at $400 million) would be spent on higher loan rates for food crops, such as wheat, rice, pulses, and oil crops including soybeans, canola, and sunflowers. “This funding is going to help ease rising food prices at home as well as abroad caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said President Biden last Thursday. Congress will likely make changes to the Biden Administration request as it considers it.

AFBF: SEC Proposed Climate Rule Overreaches

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) released analysis last week claiming a proposed rule by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would create substantial costs and liabilities for farmers even though they are not directly regulated by the SEC.

According to the AFBF, the proposed rule’s expansive reporting requirements for Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions not only directly affects farmers’ and ranchers’ operations, but could create several substantial costs and liabilities, such as reporting obligations, technical challenges, significant financial and operational disruption and the risk of financially crippling legal liabilities. Ultimately, the proposed rule could have meaningful consequences for farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to produce food, fuel and fiber.

Senate Agriculture Committee Kicks off Farm Bill Review

The Senate Agriculture Committee kicked off its review of the 2018 farm bill with a field hearing in Michigan. Committee Chair Senator Stabenow (D-MI) along with Ranking Member Boozman (R-AR) attended the nearly 3-hour hearing. Senator Stabenow said the next farm bill “must address the economic security of our farmers, families, and rural communities by supporting a more resilient and sustainable food supply chain. We can do more to improve competition and expand opportunities for small, mid-sized and local producers that grow things at home to prevent shortages and reduce cost spikes when a crisis does occur.”

CRP Signup Results

Last week USDA announced it is accepting slightly more than 2 million acres in offers from agricultural producers and landowners through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup. With about 3.4 million acres expiring this year the total enrolled acres in CRP will decline. There are roughly 22.4 million acres enrolled in the CRP, well below the 25 million acres authorized in 2021 by the 2018 farm bill.

Producers submitted re-enrollment offers for just over half of expiring acres, similar to the rate in 2021. Offers for new land under General CRP were considerably lower compared to last year’s numbers, with fewer than 400,000 acres being offered this year versus over 700,000 acres offered last year largely due to commodity market conditions.

Livestock Coverage Announcements

The Risk Management Agency issued three product management bulletins (PM-22-28 through PM-22-30) announcing changes to Dairy Revenue Protection, Livestock Risk Protection and Livestock Gross Margin coverage for 2023 and succeeding crop years.

In Memory: Fernando A. Gurrola of Tempe, Arizona

The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome Fernando into the membership in 1991. He was a Professional member and transferred to the Retired membership classification in 2013. Fernando generously volunteered to serve as the Arizona Chapter Secretary from 2001 to 2011. He made many friends through his association with the Society and he will be greatly missed. At this time, the ASFMRA was informed that Fernando passed away on May 2, 2022, at Hospice of the Valley. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.