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ASFMRA Ag News - May 24, 2022

By ASFMRA Press posted 05-23-2022 09:56 PM


Who Are the Biggest Absentee Landowners in Illinois?

It was a cold January day in 2021 when Eric O’Keefe, editor and founder of The Land Report, walked up to the podium at the Land Expo in Iowa and announced Bill Gates as America’s largest individual farmland owner. He learned this after investigating Gates’ purchase of the 100 Circles farm in eastern Washington by one of Gates’ holding companies.

I oversaw the management of the 100 Circles farm when Gates bought it during my tenure at Hancock Farmland Services, in 2018. Nestled next to the Columbia River Gorge, the farm was a sight to behold. Long warm days and cool summer nights with plenty of water from the river have helped it to rank among the most productive regions in the U.S., if not the world.

Professional farm managers have unique insight into the world of farmland investing, and they bring a unique perspective. The Gates story brought to light what we were already seeing in the industry: Investors were recognizing farmland as a good long-term investment — and new players were showing up at farm sales.

Read the Full Story from Michael Lauher, AFM

Corn Belt Land Values Soar 23% In Past Year

Agricultural land values in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin collectively soared 23% from April 2021 to April 2022, according to the May Ag Letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The data comes from survey responses from agricultural bankers in this region, which makes up the Seventh Federal Reserve District.

Momentum is expected to continue, says David Oppedahl, senior business economist at the Chicago Federal Reserve, who authored the report.

Higher prices paid for farmland resulted in greater amount of farmland for sale in the six-month period ending in March, compared to that from a year ago.

Read the Full Story

137-Acre Valleybrook Golf Course Being Eyed By Several Groups 

There's 137 acres of prime land in Hixson now being eyed by several different groups - it's the Valleybrook Golf Course. Chattanooga businessman Henry Luken, who bought it at an auction nine years ago for $950,000 (plus six percent sale commission, is shopping it for $3.4 million.

Though some would like to see the 63-year-old golf course keep going, Mr. Luken said the "highest and best use of the property is not for a golf course." He said that's the same across the country, except for the rare exceptions like Augusta National.

Mr. Luken said the Valleybrook course "is making money and it could make even more." On the other hand, Mr. Luken noted that there is a real scarcity of available homes locally, leading to greatly escalating home prices in recent times.

Read the Full Story

Will An Interest Rate Increase Lower Land Values?

The KC Federal Reserve puts out a periodic review of the Farm Economy, and in the latest release they gave an update on the increase in farmland values for most of the Corn Belt.

They showed the percent change in farmland values from the previous year for the Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and Minneapolis Federal Reserve districts, which includes most of the Corn Belt plus Texas and Mountain states. The average increase in values for most of the states in these districts was between 20% and 25% for the year.

However, the trend in the latest quarter appears to be decelerating. The last quarter of 2021 showed a 7% to 10% increase in land values; however, the first quarter of 2022 showed this increase dropping to between 2% and 4%.

Read the Full Story

Grand 52-Acre Horse Ranch Selling for $4.75M in Wildwood

The 4,150 square-foot home is set a few hundred feet off Wild Horse Creek Road, giving owners an air of privacy while providing visitors with wonderful views of animals grazing on the drive up to the residence.

The home contains five total bathrooms and four bedrooms. The family room has vaulted wood-paneled ceilings, wood floors, skylights, and a floor-to-ceiling brick wood-burning fireplace.

The property has seven ponds and provides ample pasture ground to raise horses or other farm animals. But if you want to continue the equine-rearing traditions of the residence, the property comes with an outdoor and indoor riding arena.

Read the Full Story

ASFMRA Government Relations Update

White House Announces Double Crop County Expansion

President Biden traveled to an Illinois farm to highlight the impact on food prices from the Russian war in Ukraine. The President announced the Administration will expand insurance for double cropping to as many as 681 additional counties (soybeans), bringing the total number of counties where this practice qualifies for crop insurance to as many as 1,935. The Risk Management Agency (RMA) has not released details about the expansion to date. Also, so far, the Administration has not mentioned changing the rules surrounding double cropping.

Congress Rejects Administration’s Crop Insurance Proposal

The House and Senate approved a $40 billion emergency relief bill to aid Ukraine. The bill, signed by President Biden, did not include the Administration’s proposal in stimulate domestic food production by providing an additional $10 premium discount to farmers who double crop wheat and soybeans. The proposal to raise loan rates nominally for some commodities was also rejected. During a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary Vilsack said in response to a question by Senator Moran (R-KS) that the Administration’s proposal was a “conversation starter.” Senator Moran asked why the Administration only included “soybeans following wheat” and not sorghum or sunflowers (around 1:27:30 mark). Secretary Vilsack responded those should be included.

USDA’s Phased Disaster Payment Approach

Early last week USDA announced its Emergency Relief Program (ERP), the much-awaited rollout of the ad hoc crop disaster relief for crop years 2020 and 2021. ERP will be paid in two phases. USDA estimates that phase one ERP benefits will reach more than 220,000 producers who received indemnities for losses covered by crop insurance and more than 4,000 producers who obtained Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) coverage for 2020 and 2021 crop losses. USDA is estimating roughly $6 billion will be paid out in phase one.

The second phase of ERP cover producers who did not participate in or receive payments through the existing programs that are being leveraged for phase one implementation. When phase one payment processing is complete, the remaining funds will be used to cover gaps identified under phase two.

You can find payment rates, eligible counties, Q&A and more for ERP here. Note in the Q&A, producers are directed to contact their crop insurance agent if they have questions regarding pre-filled crop insurance information.

RMA Suspends LRP 60 Day Ownership Requirement

RMA issued Managers Bulletin MGR-22-004 allowing Approved Insurance Providers to waive the 60-day ownership requirement for LRP Specific Coverage Endorsements (SCE) as of May 19, 2022, subject to verification of proof of ownership. The action is a result of the continuing severe drought conditions impacting many parts of the U.S. Producers are struggling to find adequate supplies of feed or forage, causing them to market their livestock sooner than anticipated.

House Agriculture Committee Passes a Series of Bipartisan Bills

The House Agriculture Committee approved six bills dealing with conservation and livestock markets on a bipartisan basis. The three related to conservation should be viewed as “marker” bills for the upcoming farm bill debate next year, meaning they aren’t likely to pass this year and certainly aren’t likely to be considered by the Senate.

The bills passed out of Committee are:

  • H.R. 7764, a bill sponsored by Representative Harder (D-CA) to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to provide additional payments under the environmental quality incentives program (EQIP) for implementation of a nutrient management practices.
  • H.R. 2518, a bill sponsored by Rep. Hinson (R-IA) entitled Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment Act, or the PRECISE Act. The bill makes FSA direct and guaranteed loans available for precision agriculture purposes and would allow EQIP payments in combination with loans for precision agriculture purposes.
  • H.R. 2606, a bill sponsored by Ranking Member Thompson (R-PA) named the Sponsoring USDA Sustainability Targets in Agriculture to Incentivize Natural Solutions Act of 2021, or the SUSTAINS Act. The bill would allow NRCS to accept private sector contributions for conservation purposes in a private public partnership contribution account.
  • H.R. 4140, a bill sponsored by Representatives Johnson (R-SD) and Craig (D-MN) known as the “Butcher Block Act.” The bill would create incentives, reduce regulatory barriers, and improve access to meat processing grants for small processors.
  • H.R. 7675, a bill sponsored by Representative Craig (D-MN) to amend the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to establish an Agricultural and Food System Supply Chain Resilience and Crisis Response Task Force, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 7606, a bill sponsored by Representative Spanberger (D-VA) to establish an Office of Special Investigator for Competition Matters at USDA. The special investigator is expected to probe allegations of unfair practices by meat and poultry processors.

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
Cody Attebery in Columbia, MO (Missouri Chapter)
Ryan Beam with Western Appraisal LLC in Abilene, TX (Texas Chapter)
Duane Benne with First Interstate Bank in Lenexa, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Mason Buckendahl in Lincoln, NE (Nebraska Chapter)
Courtney Churchill with Peoples Company in Marlette, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Chester Donkers in Faribault, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Woody Fincham with Fincham & Associates, Inc. in Palmyra, VA (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
John Green in Pueblo, CO (South Dakota Chapter)
David Hassing with AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Fargo, ND (Minnesota & North Dakota Chapters)
Ashley Jordan in San Jose, CA (California Chapter)
Peter Lapaseotes with Platte Valley Bank in Bridgeport, NE (Nebraska & Wyoming Chapters)
Hannah Leischner with University of IL Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Chris Loomis in Waitsfield, VT (Northeast Chapter)
Jake Marien with First South Farm Credit in Alexandria, LA (Mid-South Chapter)
Andrea Miller with Farm Credit Services of America in Monroe, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Ryan Olfert with Farm Credit West in Kingsburg, CA (California Chapter)
Seth Pattison in Franklin, PA (Northeast Chapter)
Patrick Posl with AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Bird Island, MN (Minnesota Chapter)
Vincent Sorena with Westchester Group (WGIM) in Bakersfield, CA)
Jim Tubbs in Jonesboro, AR (Mid-South Chapter)
Alberto Ugas in Auburn, WA (Washington Chapter)
Dustin Unruh with Farmers National Company in Garden City, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Joshua Wagenbach with Halderman Real Estate in Wolcott, IN (Illinois and Indiana Chapters)
Connor Walker with CNB Bank & Trust in Carlinville, IL (Illinois Chapter)

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!

David Bartlett, ARA
Bill Beam, ARA
Mark Callender, AFM
Justin Connolly
Carole Fornoff, AFM
Carol Fowler
Brian Gatzke, ARA
Ted Glaub, AFM
Howard Halderman, AFM
Brice Hedrick
Robert Hostetter
Eldred Lesansee
Nicholas Pease
Jessica Rosata
Adam Schmidt, ARA
Matthew Slightom
Deb Stanbro
Michael Tankersley, ARA
JoAnn Wall, ARA
Mark Williams, ARA

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

In Memory: Perry Beguin - Spearfish, South Dakota

The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome Perry into the membership in 2001. He was an Associate member until 2015 when he transferred to the Retired membership classification. Perry made many friends through his involvement with the National ASFMRA and the South Dakota Chapter. He will be missed greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. To read more about Perry’s life, please click here for his obituary.