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ASFMRA Ag News - June 20, 2023

By ASFMRA Press posted 06-19-2023 11:08 PM


Who Owns Iowa Farmland?

Fewer than half the people at a recent farm auction in Clinton County were actual bidders. The rest came for the cookies, conversation and to see who would walk away with 150 acres of Iowa dirt.

Would it be the men in suits sitting in folding chairs by the wall?

What about the old-timer in overalls?

Or would an online buyer swoop in with the highest bid?

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Apple Co-founder to Sell Huge Carmel Valley Ranch for $35 Million

A legendary Silicon Valley tech leader who bought a vast ranch in Carmel Valley 40 years ago is selling the property to a conservation group to become a new public preserve and cultural site.

In 1977, Mike Markkula gave two unknown, shaggy-haired computer programmers, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, $250,000 to help turn their young partnership into a new company. He become the third employee at Apple, served as its CEO and chairman of the board, and at one time owned 26% of the company.

Markkula, an engineer who had worked at Intel before meeting the duo, used part of his fortune to buy one of the largest properties in Monterey County, the historic Rana Creek Ranch, a 14,100-acre landscape that stretches 8 miles through Carmel Valley, between Salinas Valley and Big Sur.

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A Forever Farm Is No Match for Forever Chemicals

It wasn’t supposed to end like this for Egide Dostie Jr.

The fourth-generation farmer leaned against a largely empty barn, a stunned look on his tanned face, as five tractor-trailer trucks drove away from the Dostie Farm in Fairfield. Half of his herd of 345 Holstein and Jersey organic dairy cows was on board, heading to auction in New York.

It had taken an hour to lead the herd one by one up a makeshift ramp, clickety-clack, into the trailers.

“That sure was quick,” Dostie said, shaking his head. “Our family has worked a couple lifetimes to build up the farm, to build a way of life that could be passed to the kids. We were doing good, too, until the contamination got us. I thought we’d beat it, but it got us good.”

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Welcome to the Next Generation of Agricultural Drones

After 32 years as an assistant paralegal, Tracye Beer is launching a new career—as an agricultural drone pilot. 

When the 57-year-old lost her job back in February, she wanted to prioritize spending more time on her family’s fourth generation farm near Guymon, in the Oklahoma panhandle. As an experienced flier who’d obtained her sport pilot’s license back in high school, seeing drones at an agricultural training seminar “really piqued my interest,” she recalls. 

Beer realized that unmanned aerial spraying systems (UASS), designed to haul and disperse tanks of herbicide, fertilizer and seeds across vast fields, could fill a job once reserved for large-rig ground sprayers and crop dusters. Using her family’s 3,000-acre corn, wheat and grain fields as a training ground, “it was the perfect opportunity to explore something new,” she says—and help wean the farm off conventional spraying methods.

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Farmland Value Remains Strong Despite Several Factors

Farmland prices remain strong across the state of Iowa. However, the early-summer farmland market is different than it was 12 months ago. Notably, grain markets are weaker, and interest rates are higher.  Looking back, the Ukraine-Russia war had 2022 grain markets very unsettled and trending higher, and our export demand was strong.

Today, the war continues, but world markets are adjusting to the protracted conflict. In addition, during our recent winter season Brazil grew an enormous soybean and corn crop. This, in combination with our strong U.S. dollar, a large U.S. crop forecast, a generally slowing world economy and some worldwide geo-political tensions (especially with China), has weakened our export demand and positioning.

What does this mean for the rest of the summer and 2023? As I see it, we’re back to managing through the ups and downs of a “weather market,” and an increasing likelihood of profit margins really tightening up in 2023. Fortunately, Iowa farmers and farmland owners came into this growing season in as healthy of a financial position as any in recent history.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

No New Funding for Farm Bill 

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Stabenow (D-MI) during a speech to the Nutrition Incentives Hub National Convening meeting told the group that the recent budget agreement foreclosed any opportunity for additional funding for the farm bill. Senator Stabenow also sits on the Senate Budget Committee. She reiterated that the Agriculture Committees have “baseline” funding but no more. She has also previously stated that moving Inflation Reduction Act funds provided to energy and conservation programs is a non-starter.  Finding funding within the farm bill to raise commodity title reference prices to a meaningful level will be difficult. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees continue to move forward with hearings and a rough plan to produce a bill this fall.

USDA Accepts More than 1 million Acres for General CRP Signup

USDA accepted slightly more than 1 million acres this year during the General CRP signup. Offers for new land in this General CRP signup totaled about 295,000 acres nationwide. Producers submitted re-enrollment offers for 891,000 expiring acres, reflecting the successes of participating in CRP longer term. The total number of CRP acres will continue to climb in the coming weeks once FSA accepts acres from the Grassland CRP signup, which closed May 26. Additionally, so far this year, FSA has received 761,000 offered acres for the Continuous CRP signup, for which FSA accepts applications year-round. 

FSA Announces ERP Correction for On-Farm Use

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is making an adjustment to its formula for calculating Emergency Relief Program (ERP) payments for phase 2 (crop years 2020 and 2021 losses). Producers of certain crops now have a method for including crop value in their allowable gross revenue for the purpose of determining ERP Phase 2 benefits. 

The value of the eligible crop intended for on-farm use will be based on the producer’s actual production of the crop and a price for the crop as determined by FSA’s Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs based on the best available data for each crop such as published crop price data or the average price obtained by other producers in the area. 

Wine grape and forage producers who have already submitted their ERP Phase Two applications to FSA have the option of revising the application and updating their allowable gross revenue to include crop value if applicable. Producers of crops grown for on-farm use other than wine grapes and forage may request consideration to use a crop’s value in their allowable gross revenue.

House Committee Moves FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations Bill  

The House Appropriations Committee met to consider the Fiscal Year 2024 bill for the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Subcommittee last week. The measure was approved by the Committee with a party-line vote of 34 to 27. The House is marking up its 12 FY 2024 Appropriation bills at roughly $120 billion below the amount agreed to in the recent debt ceiling legislation. The Republicans are doing that to appease the conservative wing of their party.  The Senate appropriators meet this Thursday to set the top-line numbers at the agreed to budget deal ($120 billion higher than the House) for its 12 FY 2024 appropriations bills. It will also markup the FY 2024 Agriculture bill this week.

In terms of the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) for the Risk Management Agency the bill provides $63.637 million compared to $66.87 million for FY 2023. The Farm Service Agency S&E totals $1.541 billion roughly the same as in FY 2023, the Natural Resource Conservation Service comes in at $911.399 million down from the FY 2023 level of $941.124 and the FPAC Business Center is provided $231.302 million down from $248.684 million for FY 2023.

Report Language Regarding A&O Included in FY 2024 Measure

The House version of the FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill includes report language regarding Administrative and Operating (A&O) expenses. Report language is nonbinding on the agency but does give an indication of what the Committee is urging the Administration to do. The language from the report:

Administrative and Operating (A&O) Expenses.—The Committee notes that the explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 encourages RMA to provide an annual inflation adjustment to A&O expenses and to provide equitable relief for specialty crop policies, recognizing RMA’s authority to do so without a renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) in a manner similar to a previous inflation adjustment. The Committee notes that inflation adjustments are not mentioned in the SRA. Instead, an RMA Manager’s Bulletin from June 30, 2010 (MGR–10–007) provided for the adjustments. For each year, RMA published an Informational Memorandum announcing the adjustment for that year (see, for example, ‘‘Federal Crop Insurance: Delivery Subsidies in Brief’’, CRS, August 20, 2018). Given the adjustments then were initiated outside the SRA, the Committee urges RMA to initiate the adjustments going forward in the same manner. In doing so, RMA may provide adjustments without renegotiation of the SRA and without violating 7 U.S.C. 1508(k)(8). (Page 46)

Senate Budget Committee Reviews Climate and Crop Insurance 

Last week. the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing to review the impacts of climate change on agriculture. Senator Grassley (R-IA) the Ranking member of the committee noted it was the 9th hearing of the Senate Budget Committee focused on climate. Former Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Brandon Willis, now an assistant professor at Utah State University took most of the questions from the various Senators and did a great job promoting crop insurance as the premiere tool to help U.S. farmers to mitigate the impacts of weather.

RMA Waives LRP Ownership Requirement

Manager’s Bulletin (MGR-23-001) published on June 9, 2023, waives the 60-day ownership requirement for LRP Specific Coverage Endorsements (SCE) currently in effect as of June 9, 2023, subject to verification of proof of ownership. The waiver is put in place because of the continuing severe drought conditions impacting many parts of the nation. Producers are struggling to find adequate supplies of feed or forage, causing them to market their livestock sooner than anticipated.

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
Morgan Almer in Moorhead, MN (Minnesota and North Dakota Chapters)
Blair Bachik with Key Appraisal Group in Grapevine, TX (Texas Chapter)
Jordan Balderston with Hertz Farm Management in Central City, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Trace Bolsinger with Hertz Farm Management in Cedar Falls, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Mollie Eldridge with AgWest Farm Credit Services in Richland, WA (Washington Chapter)
Jordan Grussing in Detroit Lakes, MN (Minnesota and South Dakota Chapters)
Shayna Guenther in Manitowoc, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Scott Helms with Alabama Farm Credit in Huntsville, AL (Alabama Chapter)
Rachel Henley with Virginia Cooperative Extension in Powhatan, VA (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
Crysti Hopkins with VA Cooperative Extension Service in Louisa, VA (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
Chase Johnston in Lenox, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Thiago Lima with Fall Line Capital in Starkville, MS (Alabama and Mid-South Chapters)
Becky Patterson in Benton, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Brett Pfantz with Farm Credit Services of America in Overland Park, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Keith Reed with Reed & Associates in Vicksburg, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Blair Riney in Lexington, KY (Kentucky Chapter)
Joel Wilson with Proprieta, LLC in Goodwell, OK (Oklahoma Chapter)
Sage Wootan in Idaho Falls, ID (Idaho-Utah 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!

Dwight Hofland
Whitney Husband
Trevor Knudsen
Randall Kyles, ARA
Jared McConnon
Tyler Mullins, ARA
Justin Patterson, ARA
Timothy Sletten
Shane Turner
Craig Welter, AFM

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