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ASFMRA Ag News - December 19, 2023

By ASFMRA Press posted 12-19-2023 12:12 AM


Foreign-Owned U.S. Farmland Acres Rose More Than 8% in 2022

The number of U.S. farm acres owned by foreign entities grew more than 8% in 2022, though the 43.4 million acres of foreign-owned forest and farm land is just 3.4% of the country's agricultural land, said a government report on Friday.

The issue of who owns American farmland, and whether foreign ownership of farmland presents a national security risk, has been hotly discussed in Washington, and some members of Congress have proposed limits on foreign farmland ownership.

Foreign entities bought 3.4 million acres of U.S. farmland in 2022, with the biggest increases in Colorado, Alabama and Michigan, said the latest report on foreign agricultural landholdings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Ag Economist Says Fed Could Lower Interest Rates in '24

An ag economist says there was a tone shift from the Federal Reserve after it held interest rates steady for a third consecutive month. David Widmar, with Agricultural Economic Insights, says there have been some gains in the battle against inflation. “And then they signaled the possibility of three rate declines for 2024,” he says.

He says he’ll continue to monitor long-term interest rates in the new year.  “Long-term interest rates are more impactful on the farm economy than those fed short-term rates,” he says.

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First Ag Robotics Plant Slated to Begin Production in the Midwest

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence and robotics are revolutionizing how farmers produce food. To continue the trend, new collaborative efforts between Solinftec, Stillwater Manufacturing, and Wabash Heartland Innovation Network are looking to make robotic technology more accessible to America’s producers. 

The three companies, in partnership, have expanded production of the Solix robot in the WHIN region of Indiana, strengthening Solinftec’s U.S. presence with the hopes of promoting sustainable agriculture.

The use of Solinftec solutions has already led to a significant reduction of herbicide volume on properties using the Solix robot in the United States, thanks largely to AI-driven scouting accuracy, targeted spraying, and addressing weed control in the early stages. The key differentiator is that, through the collaboration of the three companies, the solutions will be adapted to the reality of the American Midwest.

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What Will Happen With Ted Turner's Land?

Long before anyone talked about China, Bill Gates or multinational corporations buying up Nebraska land, another name was spoken, with curiosity and frustration, on farms and ranches from Ord to Ogallala.

Ted Turner, they said. Ted Turner is buying everything.

The media mogul’s back-to-back Nebraska land purchases in the late 1990s made him the single largest landowner in the state while sparking speculation and concern.

Small-town residents worried the billionaire’s land buys – at his peak, Turner owned nearly a half-million acres of Nebraska ranch land – would drive up prices and edge out locals. Conservationists cheered, because Turner had committed to restore the American bison to the Great Plains. And in fact, the number of bison in Nebraska has soared thanks in part to his plans.

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Texas-Based Cattle Company Accused of $191 Million Investment Fraud

Agridime LLC, Texas-based cattle company, is facing allegations of orchestrating a cattle Ponzi scheme involving $191 million in investor funds and undisclosed sales commissions. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took swift action, issuing a temporary restraining order, asset freeze and receiver appointment for Agridime on Dec. 14.

The SEC's investigation revealed that the owners of Agridime, Josh Link of Gilbert, Ariz., and Jed Wood of Fort Worth, Texas, used millions in investor funds to make fraudulent payments and undisclosed sales commissions for themselves and others, reports a news source.

Eric Werner, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office, emphasized that the defendants enticed investors with promises of lucrative returns in a statement claiming they could "make money raising cattle without having to do all the work."

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

Chicago Federal Reserve Agriculture Conference Focuses on Land Ownership

At the end of last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held a conference focusing on Midwest agricultural land ownership. The conference link was recently made available.

FSA Seeks Comments on Reporting for Foreign Agriculture Land Holdings

Foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural lands has been a hot topic in Washington as well in many State legislatures. In response to public concerns, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is seeking comments by February 16, 2024, on its data collection process for foreign filers to report agricultural land holdings in the United States. FSA is proposing to update the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act Report form so that reporting can include data on long-term lessees, data to assess the impacts of foreign investment on agricultural producers and rural communities, and to gather geospatial information. 

No Movement on Appropriations Bills

The House is in recess until January 9, 2024. After passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last Thursday by a bipartisan vote of 310-118, the House started its holiday recess. No agreement has been reached on topline spending for FY 2024 appropriation bills. Recall, the continuing resolution for four of the twelve appropriation bills expires on January 19 (including Agriculture) with the remaining eight expiring on February 2, 2024. It is entirely possible that the spending authority for the 4 January 19 bills will run out and we’ll have a “mini” shutdown in January while Leadership determines a path forward.

The Senate is in session this week to work on nominations. It had hoped to vote on an international supplemental spending bill for Ukraine and Israel, but no agreement between the 2 parties has been reached to move the supplemental bill forward. The Senate is not working on FY 2024 appropriation bills at this time.

Republicans Urge USDA to Abandon 2022 ERP 

A letter signed by over 60 members of Congress (Senators and Representatives) urges Secretary Vilsack to abandon the 2022 ERP payment methodology and revert to how ERP Phase 1 was administered for the 2021 crop year. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Booz\man (R-AR) staff released a blog highly critical of the USDA implementation of 2022 ERP. The blog title “Disaster of a Disaster Assistance Program” blasts the Administration for changing the payments formulas to pick “winners and losers.”  The blog also graphically shows the impact of the new payment limitation factor on farmers who suffered the largest losses yet are receiving the smallest payments.

USDA to Issue PARP Payments

USDA announced last week that it will begin issuing more than $223 million in long overdue Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) payments for 2020 losses. The PARP application period closed July 14, 2023. More than 38,500 PARP applications triggered payments totaling nearly $7 billion, meaning PARP program participation exceeds available funding. A 9.5% prorate payment factor has been applied to all payments. The PARP payments are in addition to the $31.9 billion in pandemic assistance that USDA has previously provided through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 and 2 as well as the FSA programs in the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

RMA Updates Good Farming Practice Handbook

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) is updating the Good Farming Practices Handbook, as part of the agency’s broader efforts to support conservation and climate-smart activities as well as to align USDA agency’s policy and communications (long overdue). The updated handbook recognizes all conservation practices offered by the RMA’s sister agency the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as Good Farming Practices for crop insurance. Appropriate use of NRCS conservation practices will have no impact on crop insurance coverage, which should affirm how the rules have worked on the ground for years. 

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
Angelina Cangelosi in Ithaca, NY (Northeast Chapter)
Bryce Ebel in Falls City, NE (KS, MO, and NE Chapters)
Cody Gasque with AgSouth Farm Credit in Easley, SC (Carolinas Virginias Chapter)
Steven Gragg with Gragg Risk Management LLC in El Paso, TX (NM and TX Chapters)
Laura B. Heier with AgCountry FCS in Wausau, WI (Wisconsin Chapter)
Dorian Jaeger in Spokane, WA (Washington Chapter)
Jason Juengel in East Lansing, MI (Michigan Chapter)
Kallie Kelm in College Station, TX (Texas Chapter)
Kyle Larsen with Farmers National Company in Humboldt, IA (Iowa Chapter)
Renee Lowry with Agwest Farm Credit in Tempe, AZ (Arizona Chapter)
Jordan Mitchell in Spearfish, SD (South Dakota Chapter)
Dallas Petefish with The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company in Jacksonville, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Amy Peterson with Winsome Ag Services in Johnson, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Curtis Raines with Grant County Bank in Ulysses, KS (Kansas Chapter)
Mandeep Redhu with Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL (Illinois Chapter)
Brianna Rimmey in Ferndale, CA (CA and OR Chapters)
James Williamson with Prudential Agricultural Investments in Fresno, CA (California 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!

Kyle Bland
Emily Costa
James E. Oliver, AFM
Thomas Schorr, ARA
Andrew Warner
Donald Zacher

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