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ASFMRA Ag News - October 25, 2022

By ASFMRA Press posted 10-25-2022 07:59 AM


New Record: Iowa Farm Joins the $26,000 Per Acre Club

Farmland is still going for record amounts. Just look at this recent sale in Iowa. In Plymouth County, Iowa, a new record was set to the tune of $26,250 per acre.

The farmland included 55 acres of high-quality farmland, according to Brock Auction Company, which managed the sale. That means the total bill was $1.44 million.

The tracts included 53.8 cropland acres with a 27.11-acre corn base with a 176 bu. PLC Yield index and a 25.74-acre soybean base with a 53 bu. PLC Yield index. The Plymouth County assessor and NRCS office show the main soil types to be Galva with some Primghar and Colo. The farm carries a CSR II weighted average of 91.7 with almost 80% of the farm at 95 CSR II.

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Champions Retreat Easement Case - Did Anybody Win?

The much criticized syndicated conservation easement (SCE) industry is chalking up a victory this month, but there are probably other ways to look at it.

Judge Cary Douglas Pugh of the United States Tax Court has allowed $7,834,091 of a $10,427,435 charitable deduction claimed by Champions Retreat Golf Founders LLC on its 2010 tax return. Given that the IRS wanted to allow $20,000 that seems like a pretty good result for the partners in the Kiokee Creek partnership who seem to have most of the dogs in this fight. (The current owners of the Champions Retreat, 3 nine-hole golf courses and related facilities in Evans GA, have nothing at all to do with the case.) A closer look indicates that maybe they did not fare all that well.

2010 is ancient history when it comes to the syndicated conservation easement (SCE) industry. And Champions is pretty tame compared to a deal like TOT Property Holdings LLC, where, in 2013, a partnership claimed a nearly $7 million deduction on property that it had acquired weeks before for just over a million. In 2017 the IRS made certain SCEs listed transactions which has engendered a bruising political fight as well funded lobbyists have resisted reform legislation that has bipartisan support on a good day.

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The Wind Turbines on His Colorado Farm Are 20 Years Old. Who’s Going to Take Them Down?

It was the spring of 2000 when two wind company representatives came to Tom Fehringer’s farm near the Nebraska border.

They told him about a coming wind project and pressed him to sign a contract on the spot to lease his land for turbines. Fehringer consulted an attorney in Sterling who said the contract was vague but fairly similar to what an oil and gas company might present. The agreement was signed within a few weeks. Fehringer soon had nine of the Peetz Table wind project’s 33 turbines turning on his Logan County land.

Fehringer, 71, had long been intrigued by renewable energy. He’d considered erecting a wind turbine for his own use and has solar panels outside his house. He calls himself a “firm believer in science” and global warming.

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Drainage Tile Demand at an All-Time High

As heavier rains and higher moisture in the soil drive many landowners to add tile to their farm, the drainage tile industry is changing to handle new demands.

Aaron Kassing, vice president of marketing for Timewell Drainage Products and Ag Drainage Inc., has been in the business for over 20 years, and he says the changes he’s seen to the drainage industry are remarkable.

As weather patterns have changed, the drainage industry has adapted, and the amount of water a drainage system can move has changed significantly. Since Kassing started in the industry in 1999, capacity has nearly doubled, from moving three-eighths of an inch of excess moisture from a field in a 24-hour period to moving a half-inch or more.

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U.S. Inflation Fight Darkens Economic Outlook, Ag Lender Says

The Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates into 2023, “and the outlook for the coming year grows increasingly gloomy,” said agricultural lender CoBank on Monday. The strong dollar “will pressure U.S. exports as the global economy struggles and U.S. goods remain expensive,” it said, with warfare in Ukraine injecting additional volatility into world food supplies.

“Risks and uncertainty remain exceptionally high, but elevated commodity prices also offer opportunities,” said CoBank in a quarterly report on the agricultural sector. “And all of this is happening with mid-term elections just weeks away and congressional control up for grab. It will not be a quiet end to the year.”

The fight to quell the high U.S. inflation rate — 8.2% at latest count — is unlikely to end without “at least a mild recession,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange. The Fed began raising interest rates seven months ago but there are only a few signs of it slowing consumer demand. “And as rates continue to go higher in coming months, our view of the collateral damage coming in the first half of 2023 mounts.”

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Farm Bureau Releases Its Farm Bill Priorities

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) released its 2023 farm bill priorities. Interestingly, the AFBF supports keeping nutrition programs and farm programs tied together (see piece below). The large level of nutrition spending could make it difficult for Republicans to pass a farm bill in the House of Representatives if they are in the majority as is widely expected after the November elections. Proposed cuts to SNAP made House passage difficult in 2014 and 2018 until they were ultimately dropped from the bill to ensure bipartisan passage.

AFBF supports a robust crop insurance program with no reductions in premium assistance and an increase in reference prices in the commodity title. It also seeks an expansion of insured commodities, especially for specialty crops and livestock growers. Throughout the document, AFBF supports policies that would likely increase spending if enacted by Congress. It does not identify how to pay for any increased spending.

Senator Stabenow “No Cuts to SNAP”

Senator Stabenow (D-MI) the current Senate Agriculture Committee Chair made clear that she will resist any efforts by House Republicans to roll back Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in the next farm bill. She was speaking at a Consumer Federation of America meeting. In fact, Stabenow said she wants to include additional incentives in the SNAP program for low-income people to buy fruits and vegetables nationwide. SNAP spending at current levels is projected to be over 80% (over $1 trillion) of the 10-year total spending of the next farm bill. It was roughly 77% of the ten-year baseline spending of the 2018 farm bill.

Two Different Takes on Climate Change Impact on Midwest Crop Production

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) both released “reports” this past week focusing on how climate change will impact crop production in the Midwest. The EDF report models forecasted climate change impacts on Iowa corn, Minnesota soybeans and Kansas winter wheat production by county. The EDF report recommends integrated private/ public investment focusing on climate mitigation and adaptation. Specifically, regarding crop insurance it says: “Traditional farm safety net programs such as crop insurance will be necessary but insufficient to meet the scale of the climate challenge.”

The EWG report, as you would expect, takes a different approach. EWG uses increases in historical excess moisture crop insurance indemnity payments (2001 -2020) to assert the increase is due to climate change. The report does not control for changes in premium subsidies, coverage choices or other changes to the crop insurance program over this time-period, of which there were many. The EWG report concludes that crop insurance “reforms” are necessary, such as, reducing premium assistance, capping premium assistance, eliminating yield exclusion options for farmers and reducing coverage levels for prevent plant coverage.

Clearly one report is looking to work with farmers and landowners, the other is looking for ways to cut crop insurance.

USDA Announces $800 Million for Underserved Producers

USDA announced last week that distressed borrowers with qualifying USDA farm loans have already received nearly $800 million in assistance, as part of the $3.1 billion in assistance for distressed farm loan borrowers provided through Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 13,000 distressed borrowers have already received assistance. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) estimates up to 23,000 additional borrowers will obtain help under the IRA provisions.

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
Jon Alberts with Greenwood Appraisal, Inc. in Snohomish, WA (Washington Chapter)
Diane Chain with American AgCredit in Temecula, CA (California Chapter)
Michelle Collins with AgCredit ACA in Norwalk, OH (Ohio Chapter)
Raven Gibson in Normal, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Matan Goldberg with Agriculture Capital Management in San Francisco, CA (California Chapter)
Lynn Krebs with Texas Real Estate Research Center in College Station, TX (Texas Chapter)
Meghan Lehman with Northwest Farm Credit Services in Billings, MT (Montana Chapter)
Cole Morrison with Northwest Farm Credit Services in Great Falls, MT (Montana Chapter)
Zachary Thomas in Philo, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Craig Turner with AltaView Advisors LLC in New York, NY (Northeast 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!

Maria Boerngen
Allison Renz Clark, ARA
Charles Gilliland, Ph.D.
Harlan Lund
Suzie Roget
Lisa Shumaker

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

In Memory: Kirk Lieurance, ARA - Kingman, Kansas

The ASFMRA was honored and pleased to welcome Kirk into the membership of the ASFMRA in 1990 as an Associate member. He obtained his Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation in 1993 and advanced to the Accredited membership classification. Kirk volunteered as a member on the Foundation Auction Committee in 2003 and again from 2005 to 2016. He also volunteered as the Colorado Chapter Director from 2007 to 2008, as the Colorado Chapter Alternate Director from 2009 to 2010, and as the Colorado Chapter Director from 2010 to 2011. Kirk was also the Colorado Chapter Vice President from 2009 to 2011. The ASFMRA has just been notified that Kirk passed away in May 2022. To read more about Kirk’s life, click here. He made many friends through his association with the Society who will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.