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ASFMRA Ag News - April 11, 2023

By ASFMRA Press posted 04-10-2023 11:25 PM


Wind Turbines and Farmland Values

Rising land values have been one of the constants in the agriculture industry, but adding energy projects is likely to provide additional value.

Jim Rebhuhn, accredited farm manager with Hertz Farm Management in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, said adding a wind turbine to any ground is a good way to boost its value. The same is likely true of solar panels, but there isn’t enough data to make a definite statement on that yet.

“The most data we have is on wind turbines, because they’ve been around longer than some of these solar farms. But in just about every case, when a farm sells and it has a turbine on it, we are seeing a premium,” Rebhuhn said.

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Recent Auction May Set Record Sale Price for Irrigated North Dakota Farmland

A recent land auction in central North Dakota very likely set a mark for the highest valued irrigated land in the state.

The auction for a pair of parcels at the intersection of Highway 1804 and 149th Ave. NW — near the Missouri River north of Bismarck — took place Tuesday, March 28. The auction was held by Moorhead-based Pifer’s with in-person bidding taking place at the Ramada by Wyndham in Bismarck.

The second of the two parcels was the marquee attraction for the auction, which drew a hearty crowd of 39 registered online bidders in addition to 23 assembled at the Ramada, Pifer’s co-founder Kevin Pifer told The Forum. The parcel consisted of 183 acres of cropland, with 130 of those acres irrigated by a pipeline feeding directly from the Missouri River.

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[WATCH] Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA, Talks Farmland Sales on RFD-TV

It has been an eventful year for land sales in farm country and with some expecting a potential plateau in the market, many landowners are now speculating over what might lay ahead when it comes to farmland values.

Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA, and 2020-21 President of the ASFMRA spoke with RFD-TV’s Tammi Arender about what he saw in the market this winter, what he predicts moving forward into spring, and how higher interest rates have affected land values.

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Safe-Harbor Language Issued for Amending Conservation Easement Deeds

The IRS on Monday issued Notice 2023-30, which provides safe-harbor language for extinguishment and boundary line adjustment clauses in conservation easement deeds, as required by Section 605(d)(1) of the SECURE 2.0 Act, which was enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, P.L. 117-328. Under Section 605(d)(2) of the Act, donors are allowed, but not required, to amend their deeds to include this language. Donors wanting to make the change must do so by July 24, 2023.

The safe-harbor notice issued Monday addresses only corrections to extinguishment and/or boundary line adjustment clauses in accordance with the SECURE 2.0 Act, the IRS said in a news release, adding that the notice does not address any other deed amendments. It applies only if the amendment is effective as of the date of the recording of the original easement deed.

If a donor substitutes the safe-harbor deed language for the corresponding language in the original eligible easement deed, and the amended deed is signed by the donor and donee and recorded on or before July 24, 2023, the amended eligible easement deed will be treated as effective for purposes of Sec. 170, Section 605(d)(2) of the SECURE 2.0 Act, and Notice 2023-30, as of the date the eligible easement deed was originally recorded, regardless of whether the amended eligible easement deed is effective retroactively under relevant state law.

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‘Dumbbell’ in Nebraska Sandhills Gains Spotlight With Sheer Size, Storied Past

It’s a $16.7 million ranch story sure to stir some nostalgic memories in the Sandhills of Nebraska. But even if you’re not from the area, a property called Dumbbell has got to pique curiosity.

The Dumbbell Ranch, which spans a whopping 15,500 acres, mostly in Cherry County, is attracting attention as it now is up for sale  — poised to separate from the family that has owned it for more than a century. The rationale behind that break may sound familiar: The younger generation has more pressing interests than to oversee the Hyannis area operation.

“They don’t want to ranch, and I’m really grateful they were honest with me,” Anne Anderson Bennett said of her daughters Margaret and Leatha, who are in their 20s. 

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Senate Agriculture Committee Ask Senate Budget Committee for More Money

Last week Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Boozman (R-AR) submitted the Committee’s budget views and estimates letter to the Senate Budget Committee. In the letter, the Senators note that since 2018 the Federal government has provided more than $90 billion in ad hoc assistance to US farmers and ranchers. The Senators ask that the Budget Committee set up a ”reserve fund” to provide budget flexibility “should our spending authority be increased.” The reserve fund is one way the Budget Committee can provide additional resources for the next farm bill.

The letter also points out that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 10-year commodity price estimates are well below those of USDA. The lower price forecast will make it more costly to raise reference prices for the PLC and ARC programs.

President Biden Vetoes Attempt to Overturn WOTUS

President Biden vetoed a Republican-sponsored resolution, H.J.Res 27, a so-called resolution of disapproval that was passed by the House and Senate to overturn the WOTUS rule that was issued in late 2022.

Agriculture is better off with the administration’s “waters of the United States” rule than it would be without it, said President Biden in a veto statement. The American Farm Bureau Federation issued a statement that the President Biden “let us down.”

Secretary Vilsack Testifies Three Times in One Week

Secretary Vilsack was a witness before three Congressional Committees at the end of March. On Tuesday, March 28, he testified and answered questions before the House Agriculture Committee. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and possible Republican sought changes took center stage during the hearing. Ranking Member David Scott used his opening statement (around 7:00 mark) to lambast a bill introduce by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) regarding work requirements for able bodied adults who receive SNAP benefits. Rep. Johnson took most of his 5 minutes to respond to Rep. Scott (around 1:29:56 mark). Representatives McGovern (D-MA), Brown (D-OH), DesJarlais (R-TN) and Moore (R-AL) also raised issues around SNAP.

The next day, Wednesday, Secretary Vilsack appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies to testify about the Agriculture Department’s FY 2024 budget proposal. The Secretary told the Subcommittee that the Agriculture Department needs more money for staff to improve its service to rural America and he didn’t get much push back. The Thursday hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, Related Agencies started out with a strong statement (starts around 15:12 mark) by Subcommittee Chair Andy Harris (R-MD) that the USDA FY 2024 budget request was not realistic and could not be afforded. The chair went further calling Secretary Vilsacks spending decisions (on climate and SNAP) reckless and questioned whether Congress should provide any discretionary authority to the Department. During Chair Harris’ time for questions (around 27:50 mark) Secretary Vilsack did respond to the Chair’s questions/ statements about using CCC authority for Climate Smart Commodities Initiative.

FDIC Updates Appraisal Bias Tips

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released an update of its FAQs related to appraisal bias tips. The update was prompted by the one-year anniversary of the release of the PAVE report.

AEI Panel Reviews Crop Insurance and Disaster Payments

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) held a panel discussion regarding crop insurance and disaster payments last week. The panel discussion was remarkably balanced, while the accompanying paper released by two of the participants is not. Two notable points from the panel discussion – 1) the panelists agreed that crop insurance should not become a vehicle to deliver climate smart agricultural practice incentives and 2) major change to crop insurance is not likely in this farm bill. The paper makes the point that subsidized insurance encourages farmers to adopt risky production strategies that have adverse environmental and climate impacts.

House Agriculture Committee to Hold NY Listening Session

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Thompson (R-PA) will host a farm bill listening session this Friday, April 14, in Binghamton, NY. Representative Thompson will be joined by Representative Marc Molinaro (R-NY) and all members of the House Agriculture committee have been invited to participate in the event. The listening session will be held at 10 a.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County Agriculture Development Center, 840 Upper Front Street #2, Binghamton, N.Y.

RMA Expands Margin Insurance Coverage

The Risk Management Agency is expanding its Margin Protection insurance plan, adding more than a thousand counties to the insurance option that provides margin protection coverage. This expansion is in direct response to growing interest among producers because of high input prices. 

RMA’s expansion of the Margin Protection insurance plan will add 1,255 counties for soybeans and 1,729 counties for corn starting by June 30, 2023. This will add coverage in 22 states for soybeans. It will also make Margin Protection available for corn in the contiguous United States (see maps). The plan is available in select counties for rice (Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas), and wheat (Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota). 

USDA Announces $1 Billion in Renewable Energy Grants 

USDA announced that it will begin accepting applications starting on April 1 for $1 billion in grants to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses invest in renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. USDA is making the $1 billion in grants available under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), with funding coming from the Inflation Reduction Act that passed Congress last year.  For additional information on application deadlines and submission details, see page 19239 of the March 31 Federal Register.