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ASFMRA Ag News - April 25, 2023

By ASFMRA Press posted 04-24-2023 11:58 PM


The Truth About Soil’s Ability to Sequester Carbon

Much fanfare accompanies programs that pay farmers to sequester green-house gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in their soils. Yet, questions linger as research casts doubt on whether the promise equals reality.

“Just about everywhere we look, there are claims about carbon sequestration being akin to the holy grail for agriculture and, by extension, the environment,” says Ben Palen, a fifth-generation Kansas farmer and manager at Ag Management Partners. “There is nothing wrong with modest improvement, but often the promise and the reality do not match.”

“I worry that we are selling ourselves a pie-in-the-sky dream we might not realize, and that it could come back to bite farmers and ultimately not get us any further down the road toward reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” says Gregg Sanford, senior scientist, Department of Agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Ridgefield's Double H Farm sells for $24M, setting Connecticut's priciest sale for 2023

Against competition that includes a number of Greenwich estates and a Cinderella castle at the opposite end of Connecticut, a Ridgefield horse farm kicked off the spring market with the priciest sale to date this year in Connecticut after an extended run on the market.

Double H Farm was purchased this week for $24 million, $4 million less than its final listed price. That still easily outpaced a Deer Park Drive estate in Greenwich that set the previous high in 2023 in Connecticut, as reported by Zillow, at $13.5 million. The Double H haul also beat out the $21.9 million fetched last November by a modernist mansion on Lower Cross Road in Greenwich.

Located on Old Stagecoach Road between a wooded preserve and sheep pasture owned by the town of Ridgefield, Double H Farm totals 87 acres with several paddocks, two barns, an indoor riding ring, two guest houses and a salt-water pool. The main residence totals more than 12,000 square feet of space, with five bedrooms and 10 fireplaces.

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Inflation’s Double-Edge Sword for Farmers

It’s no secret that inflation has weighed heavily on farm country over the past couple years. The January 2023 Farm Futures grower survey found that inflation over the past couple years has resulted in 63% of growers not being able to operate as desired.

And it should come as no surprise – in February 2023, USDA’s Farm Income team projected that annual farm production expenses rose a staggering 11% between 2021 and 2022. While 2023 is forecasted to be the 4th highest year for production expenses, costs are only up 1.3% from 2022 (all figures adjusted for inflation).

Elsewhere in the U.S. economy we are seeing more signs of inflationary pressures beginning to ease, as is likely to be shown in Personal Consumption Expenditure index data expected to be released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis later this week.

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IRS Doubles Down on Stance in Conservation Easement Safe Harbor

The IRS doubled down on its litigation stance in safe harbor deed language for conservation easements released this month, following conflicting appeals courts’ decisions, tax practitioners say.

The agency on April 10 released Notice 2023-30, which laid out specific language to include in new or existing deeds that would protect landowners’ deductions, should the easement be extinguished or impacted by boundary line adjustments. But the language mirrors a controversial Treasury regulation regarding easement extinguishments that’s been the subject of several legal challenges.

A decision split between the 6th and 11th circuit courts of appeals over the Treasury regulation has left tax practitioners unsure how to advise clients to implement the safe harbor language, especially if their conservation easement is in the 11th Circuit—which invalidated the regulation. Professionals say the validity of the regulation could be determined by the Supreme Court but noted the high court may not want to take up such a technical issue.

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Missouri Moves to Tighten Reins On Foreign Land Ownership

Months after a Chinese company, Fufeng Group, was granted approval for a North Dakota land purchase in close proximity to a U.S. military base, foreign land ownership concerns are being raised on a local and national level.

The purchase set off alarms for other U.S. states to create legislative roadblocks for foreign land ownership within their borders. Missouri is the latest state to initiate the policy change.

The Missouri Senate on Wednesday backed a plan to amend the state's foreign land ownership threshold from 1% to 0.5%. The bill also includes a provision that would limit foreign countries—including China, Russia, Iran and North Korea—from acquiring farmland in Missouri by Sept. 1.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

House Debt Ceiling Legislation Introduced

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced the House Republican bill, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which lifts the debt ceiling by roughly one year or $1.5 trillion whichever occurs first. The bill also slows the rate of growth for appropriations (the annual funding of the Federal government) by 1% annually, reduces overall appropriations spending to FY 2022 levels, and rescinds unspent pandemic emergency funding and repeals much of the Inflation Reduction Act tax incentives and funding provided for “clean” energy purposes. 

The bill does not cut existing mandatory spending programs so no reductions to commodity programs or crop insurance. It would make changes to work requirements for able bodied adults receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.  As previously noted, SNAP changes are non-starters for Democrats. It’s safe to say, no Democrat will vote for the bill.

The Speaker’s plan is to pass the bill this week. Since no House Democrat will vote for the bill, the Speaker can afford to lose only a handful of Republicans. If it passes, the plan/ hope is that will force a negotiation with the Democrats (Senate and President) to cut spending while increasing the debt ceiling. Both President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) have said they will not entertain budget cuts to lift the debt ceiling limit.

House Fails to Override President Biden’s Veto of WOTUS

President Biden on April 6 vetoed the measure to block the Biden Administration’s new definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).  The measure was passed in both the House and Senate and garnered support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.  Members of the House of Representatives this week voted to override the President’s veto but fell short of the 290 votes needed to overturn a veto.

EPA Administrator Testifies Before House Agriculture Committee

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan testified before the House Agriculture Committee last week. Chairman Thompson (R-PA) in his opening statement called out EPA and USDA for not working together and pursuing harmful positions that impact farmers and ranchers negatively. In part, the Chairman said: From my vantage point, it appears EPA and USDA are not only playing in one another’s sandbox, but are perpetuating wrongheaded priorities: EPA wants to dictate what producers grow, and how to grow it, and USDA is laser focused on expanding funding and policies related to climate.

For his part, Administrator Regan stated he has a strong desire to work closely with American farmers and ranchers to identify practical science-based policies that protect the environment and ensure a vibrant and productive agricultural system. The Administrator on multiple occasions reverted to the need for science-based decisions but also said the courts frequently tie the EPA’s hands.

USDA Announces Grassland CRP Signup

USDA announced that agricultural producers and private landowners can begin signing up for the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through May 26, 2023. More than 3.1 million acres were accepted through the 2022 Grassland CRP signup from agricultural producers and private landowners. That signup—the highest ever for the program—reflects the continued success and value of investments in voluntary, producer-led, working lands conservation programs. The current total participation in Grassland CRP is 6.3 million acres, which is part of the 23 million acres enrolled in CRP opportunities overall. Contact your local FSA office if interested.

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
Hunter Barth with Crown Appraisals, Inc. in Fargo, ND (Minnesota and North Dakota Chapters)
Linda Brier with Farmers National Company in Williamsport, IN (Illinois and Indiana Chapters)
Brian Cannata with Birdseye Appraisal LLC in Missoula, MT (Montana Chapter)
Russell Fryman with Farmers National Company in Milan, MI (Michigan Chapter)
William Gunnels with US Agriculture in Monticello, FL (Florida Chapter)
Kristen Halbur with Peoples Company in Manning, IA (Iowa Chapter)
William Hysmith with Capital Farm Credit in Loving, TX (Texas Chapter)
Johnny Klemme with Geswein Farm & Land Realty, LLC in Lafayette, IN (Indiana Chapter)
Cade Korslien in Douglas, ND (North Dakota Chapter)
Davin Kuhn in Middletown, NY (Northeast Chapter)
Elliott Scroggs with Lee & Associates Baton Rouge in Zachary, LA (Mid-South Chapter)
Kody Smith in Bloomington, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Thomas Vender Neut with U.S. Department of the Interior in North Wales, PA (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!

Jeffrey Berg, ARA
Paul Herrington, ARA
David Martin
Michael Ming, ARA
Paraic Neibergs, ARA
Mickey Nixon, ARA
Emily Oberbroeckling
Troy Parsell
Jason Rustan, ARA
Megan Sheeley, ARA
Matthew Wyss, AFM

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

Long Standing Members

We are recognizing long-standing members of the ASFMRA on an annual basis according to their join date. The anniversaries are recognized in increments of five years. You may recognize your fellow peers in the list of Long-Standing Members, and we encourage you to extend your congratulations to them. Please note this list is for the 2023 year.

A round of applause is extended by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA or the Society) to our long-standing members for their continuous support. The Society appreciates every member for choosing us as the association you desire to affiliate with especially with many organizations vying for your membership. The ASFMRA continues to make every effort to offer member services which will benefit your professional and personal life.

Max W. Evans, AFM, ARA-Retired Overland Park KS 12/2/1958 65
Ray M. Carmichael, AFM, ARA-Retired Bloomington IL 12/3/1963 60
John M. Cotton Spencer IA 6/24/1963 60
Jay D. Luse, AFM, ARA Lebanon IN 12/3/1963 60
Dale E. Aupperle, AFM, ARA Forsyth IL 1/17/1973 50
Arlin J. Brannstrom, AAC Madison WI 4/27/1973 50
R. Wayne Buck, ARA-Retired Otterbein IN 7/7/1973 50
Alvin E. Butch Nelson, Jr., ARA Abilene TX 9/8/1973 50
Wendel K. Nicolaus, Jr., ARA Ross CA 4/27/1973 50
David W. Bruner Greencastle IN 3/21/1978 45
Allen Parke Carter, AFM-Retired Simpsonville KY 10/1/1978 45
Donald K. Cochran, ARA Wheeler IL 7/10/1978 45
Donald A. Fisher, ARA Manlius NY 4/20/1978 45
Thomas A. Forsberg Zionsville IN 5/26/1978 45
Joseph E. Hafley Stanford KY 9/27/1978 45
Jeffrey D. Haugen, ARA-Retired Mesa AZ 9/29/1978 45
John P. Hickey, ARA Bozeman MT 4/25/1978 45
Philip M. Holden West Palm Beach FL 9/11/1978 45
David R. Joos, ARA Janesville WI 9/11/1978 45
Dwain D. McMullen Forest VA 3/27/1978 45
Jim H. Nutt III Marietta GA 9/20/1978 45
John W. Reynolds, ARA, RPRA-Retired Louisville KY 9/27/1978 45
Mark W. Richey Eagle ID 8/25/1978 45
Terry L. Rider Henderson KY 9/27/1978 45
T. Fred Schmedt, AFM Ardmore OK 7/10/1978 45
L. Ried Schott, ARA-Retired Palos Verdes Estates CA 7/10/1978 45
James M. Webb Phoenix AZ 3/17/1978 45
William V. Weber Luverne MN 5/26/1978 45
Tim E. Whitener, ARA Olathe CO 3/27/1978 45
Robert W. Young, ARA Monmouth IL 7/10/1978 45

To see the full list of long standing members, click here.

In Memory: Ed Brown, ARA - Pickering, Missouri

The ASFMRA has learned that Ed passed away on April 22, 2023 after a brief illness. The Society was honored and pleased to welcome him into the membership in 1988 as an Associate member. Ed obtained his Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation and went to the Accredited membership classification in 1994. He maintained his Accredited membership. Ed served as the Missouri Chapter Alternate Director from 2015 to 2018. Ed made many friends through his association with the Society, and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. To learn more about Ed’s life, click here.