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ASFMRA Ag News - January 17, 2023

By ASFMRA Press posted 21 days ago


Joe Burrow, Blake Griffin and Other Pro Athletes Take a Stake in Iowa With Farm Purchase

Some of the biggest names in pro sports ― a group including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Boston Celtics forward Blake Griffin and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kevin Gausman — are spending $5 million or more buying U.S. farms, with their first purchase coming in Iowa.

The coalition of about two dozen players bought the 104-acre north Iowa farm and plan to acquire more, according to Patricof Co., a specialized private New York investment firm facilitating the deal. The company declined to say how much the Iowa farm cost.

Front Office Sports said the sports stars are looking for a diverse set of agricultural assets that could include watermelon farms in Oregon as well as other farms in Iowa. Patricof said the $5 million investment is the "first capital call in what will be a pool of capital to acquire multiple farms."

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Research Could Simplify Process for Calculating Soil Carbon Credits

A study led by researchers at the Agroecosystem Sustainability Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides new insights for quantifying cropland carbon budgets and soil carbon credits, two important metrics for mitigating climate change.

The results, outlined in a paper published in the soil science journal Geoderma, could simplify the process for calculating soil carbon credits, which reward farmers for conserving soil carbon through crop rotation, no-tillage, cover crops, and other conservation practices that improve soil health. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

Agricultural activity causes a significant amount of soil organic carbon to be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Several conservation practices have been suggested to help sequester that carbon in the soil, but their potential to enhance the total SOC in a soil profile, known as SOC stock, needs to be assessed locally. Such assessments are key to the emerging agricultural carbon credit market.

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Nebraska’s Farmland Price Now Averages $12,000 per Acre for High-Quality Land

Strong commodity markets continue to increase the value of Nebraska farmland.

In Nebraska, according to a recent report from Farmers National Co., the average sale price for an acre of high-quality irrigated land has reached $12,000. That’s a $2,000 increase from a year ago and a $3,500 increase from two years ago.

Jason Lewis, who farms about 1,200 acres of corn and soybeans with his father-in-law, former state Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, said that he has seen irrigated land going for as much as $14,000 per acre. That, he said, makes it difficult for farmers like him who don’t have vast amounts of wealth on hand.

“As a younger producer, that’s difficult,” said Lewis, who is 44. “There’s no way any banker is going to loan me that based on a return on investment.”

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Flooding Inundates Salinas, California — The ‘Salad Bowl of the World’

The Salinas River is flooding, and as residents around Salinas, California, are being faced with increased challenges related to road closures and preserving their homes. Additionally, farmers in this area — known as the “Salad Bowl of the World” — are suffering the consequences of Mother Nature with delayed planting and flooded fields.

Just last month, 80 percent of the state was listed as in a “severe drought” or worse after an incredibly dry year in the Southwest and adjacent regions. Now, the tables have turned, with some of the heaviest-hitting storms in years helping to replenish reservoirs, pack mountains, and fuel massive floods.

And, while the state certainly needs all the moisture it can get, this flooding may impact future harvests for farmers in the Salinas and Santa Maria Valleys. According to reports, some growers were able to plant before the rain, but planting came to a halt once rains began falling these past two weeks.

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2022 Land Report: Who Owns the Most Land in the United States?

From strategic acquisitions to out-and-out buyouts, America’s largest landowners bought and sold millions of acres all year long in 2022, acquiring inholdings, selling nonessential acreage, and delving into new markets. This included the sale of Texas's Four Sixes Ranch to the creator of the hit TV series Yellowstone. That information is included in the 2022 Land Report 100, which is compiled each year by The Land Report magazine.


The nation’s largest private landowners, California’s Emmerson family, are a prime example of this trend. Through their Sierra Pacific Industries, the Emmersons increased their landholdings by more than 100 square miles to over 2.4 million acres. The bulk of that growth was nearly 78,000 acres of Northern California timberland acquired from the descendants of Thomas Barlow “T.B.” Walker.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

118th Congress Off to Rocky Start

After 14 attempts, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected as the Speaker of the House by a vote of 216 to 212, with 6 Republican members voting “present.” To attain the position, Speaker McCarthy had to cut some last-minute deals with some 14 conservative Republican members. Two of these items could have potential farm bill implications.

First, an agreement to include spending cuts when voting to increase the debt ceiling presents some risk – recall this is how crop insurance was cut in 2015 as part of the 2015 budget agreement between House Republicans and the Obama Administration. The cut was undone after herculean efforts by then Chairman Conaway (R-TX) and with help from then Majority Whip McCarthy. The debt ceiling vote is expected sometime this summer.

Second, Speaker McCarthy agreed to allow more open debate on major legislation, mostly driven by complaints about large spending bills like the 2023 omnibus bill which come up purportedly with little debate or member input. This could impact the 2023 farm bill as it crosses the House floor for debate, allowing the potential for more farm program and crop insurance related amendments than have been allowed in the two most recent farm bills. Both risks argue for continued outreach to members about the importance of agriculture in their districts.

USDA Issues ERP Phase 2 and PARP Rule

The USDA published for comment a final rule implementing Phase 2 of the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) as well as a Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program.

To be eligible for ERP Phase 2, producers must have suffered a decrease in allowable gross revenue in 2020 or 2021 due to necessary expenses related to losses of eligible crops from a qualifying natural disaster event. Assistance will be primarily to producers of crops that were not covered by crop insurance or NAP, since crops covered by crop insurance and NAP were included in the assistance under ERP Phase One.

To be eligible for PARP, an agricultural producer must have been in the business of farming during at least part of the 2020 calendar year and had a 15% or greater decrease in allowable gross revenue for the 2020 calendar year, as compared to a baseline year.

The ERP Phase 2 and PARP application period is open from January 23, 2023 through June 2, 2023.

Ranking Member Scott Releases Farm Bill Priorities

Ranking Member David Scott’s (D-GA) released his priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill in a statement last week. They are:

1. Expand rural broadband: We must ensure that appropriate funding is given to USDA to help us bridge the digital divide between rural and urban America. USDA knows what works for our rural communities better than many other Federal agencies and will provide a more immediate solution to our rural communities who do not have adequate and affordable broadband access.

2. Make the 1890 Land Grant African American College and Universities Student Scholarship Program permanent and add an additional $100 million in funding: This is critical to developing our future generations of scientists, producers, and leaders in our agriculture industry.

3. Assist our small family cattle farmers and ranchers: Extending and strengthening the safety net for our livestock producers and increasing marketing and business financial incomes of our small farmers and ranchers by adding value to their operations.

4. Defend and protect SNAP and our nutrition programs: We need to maintain the nutrition safety net and examine any gaps in coverage while ensuring that job opportunities, education, and training are available.

5. Help producers combat dramatic changes in weather patterns and climate: Our farm bill conservation title programs are oversubscribed, and we need to increase the available technical assistance to work with our agriculture producers.

American Farm Bureau Federation Sets 2023 Farm Bill Priorities

During its annual convention in Puerto Rico, the American Farm Bureau Federal (AFBF) delegates adopted a resolution that called for the strengthening of the farm safety net. AFBF previously had released its 2023 farm bill priorities which call for higher reference prices and an enhanced crop insurance program.

Senator Stabenow Announces She Won’t Seek Re-election

Last week Senator Stabenow (D-MI) announced she won’t seek re-election in 2024. As you know, she is currently the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She did make it clear that she wants to complete the 2023 farm bill this year, on time.

In other Senate news, former Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has been appointed by Governor Jim Pillen (R-NE) to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE). Senator Sasse officially resigned from the Senate to serve as president of the University of Florida.