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ASFMRA Ag News - June 4, 2024

By ASFMRA Press posted 06-04-2024 10:56 AM


China Isn’t Hogging up as Much U.S. Farmland as It May Seem

Despite concerns that China is buying or leasing all the farmland in the United States, new Cornell-led research shows that this is not the case.

Using a federal dataset of more than 40,000 foreign investments in U.S. agricultural land as of 2020, Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and collaborators show that countries classified by the federal government as “adversary,” such as China, held only 1 percent of the roughly 40 million acres of foreign-owned farmland. The top foreign country in terms of ownership of U.S. agricultural land? Canada, which owned about a third, much of it Maine and Michigan forestland.

And while foreign ownership has increased steadily over the past two decades, long-term leasing is the main driver of the increasing foreign interests, and many foreign transactions are related to renewable-energy development.

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View More Studies from the 2024 Journal of the ASFMRA

Idaho Farmers Say Water Curtailment Order Will Dry up Land, Push Them Out of Business

Faced with a water curtailment order issued last week, third generation Idaho farmer Adam Young isn’t just thinking about preparing to cut alfalfa or anxiously waiting for his wheat to flower.

Today, Young is confronting the reality of up to 70% of his family’s 2,700-acre farm in eastern Idaho’s Bingham County drying up this year. 

Unless there is an emergency stay to the curtailment order, Young said the water will be shut off. Meanwhile, the crops are already in the ground. Young has already invested in seed, fertilizer and other inputs he said total $400 per acre.

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Farmer Sentiment Recovers in May; Interest in Solar Leasing Rising

U.S. farmers’ outlook improved in May as the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer index rose to 108, marking a 9-point increase from April. Both of the barometer’s subindices saw increases, with the Index of Future Expectations climbing 11 points to 117 and the Current Conditions Index rising 6 points. The rise in crop prices played a role in boosting farmer sentiment this month. By mid-May, Eastern Corn Belt cash corn prices had increased by 6% to 7%, and soybean prices had risen by 2% to 3% since the April survey was conducted. The improvement in prices aligned with good corn and soybean planting progress, which likely contributed to the sentiment improvement. This month's Ag Economy Barometer survey was conducted from May 13-17, 2024.

“The boost in the Index of Future Expectations reflects farmers’ expectation that conditions will improve, although it’s clear 2024’s financial challenges are still a concern,” said James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.

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AI-Learned Labor, Precision Steam and Lasers: West Slope Farmers Get a Look at the Future in the Fields Amid Worker Shortage

Amid a growing agricultural labor crisis, a cadre of computer scientists, farmers and venture capitalists are pitching tech-based solutions that bring to mind a joke from a late `90s comedy classic.

“Have you heard the solution called the sharks with lasers on their heads?” Adrian Card, with Colorado State University Extension, asked a crowd of farmers on Friday, referencing the 1997 Mike Myers film “Austin Powers.” 

Card was addressing producers at a CSU research farm near Fruita who were gathered to learn about “automated weeders,” which can range from targeted blasts of steam delivered from a robot to smart spraying units that use machine learning to differentiate weeds from crops and deliver small sprays of herbicide right where they’re needed. And, yes, even lasers. 

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Strong Cash Rents Reported in Iowa, Across Corn Belt

A farm real estate specialist says cash rental rates have been strong across parts of the Corn Belt.

Jim Rothermich, ARA, vice president of Iowa Appraisal, says, “I picked up several results here lately and I was surprised how high the cash rents were.”

A recent report from Iowa State University, the Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2024 Survey, found the overall cash rent average in the state at $279 per tillable acre in 2024 – up from $222 per tillable acre in 2020. The highest average came in District 1 in the northwest corner of the state at $304 per tillable acre.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

AQB Seeks Comment on Appraiser Education Requirements

The Appraisal Foundation (TAF) has requested feedback to assist the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) in determining the appropriate level of education needed for individuals to qualify for trainee, license, or certification credentials as real property appraisers. Links to their Concept Paper and companion Reference Manual are provided below, along with a link to a webinar on the topic scheduled for June 6th. Comments are due by July 27th. You can submit your comments individually here.

Click here to view the Concept Paper and click here to view the Reference Manual.

House Begins Focus on FY 2025 Appropriations Bills  

The House will begin consideration of the 12 FY 2025 appropriations bills. The stated goal is to complete all 12 bills before the August recess. Each bill is marked up at the subcommittee and full committee level before moving to the House floor for consideration (regular order). The FY 2025 Agriculture spending bill is scheduled for subcommittee markup on June 11. 

It has been a long time since the House Appropriations Committee has completed all 12 bills in regular order and this year will almost certainly add to the non-completion trend. Recall the FY 2024 House Agriculture Appropriations bill was voted down by the House and ultimately passed in March of this year as part of a consolidated appropriations act. The Senate is not presently on the same track as the House and a Continuing Resolution is certain this year to avoid a government shutdown. The only question will be for how long past the November election it will run.

Farm Bill Activity Shifts to Senate

House Agriculture Committee passage of a farm bill shifts the action to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Ranking Member Boozman (R-AR) has promised to release his farm bill framework this month. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Stabenow (D-MI) will wait for her Republican counterpart to detail priorities before deciding what, if anything, to do as a next step.
House Chairman Thompson (R-PA) stated that the House farm bill will not see any House floor consideration before September of this year as the House focuses on FY 2025 appropriations bills. Meanwhile the House Agriculture Committee Democrats released a “Dissenting Views” statement reiterating their reasons for opposition to the House Committee passed farm bill. Note the four Democrats that voted for Committee passage signed the dissenting views letter.

ERS: Solar and Wind Energy Small Relative to U.S. Farmland

The Economic Research Service (ERS) released a report last week detailing U.S. land use changes associated with solar and wind utility development (2009 -2020). The report concludes that the amount of land cover directly affected by solar and wind is estimated to be small relative to the amount of farmland. Still, more than 90 percent of wind turbines and 70 percent of solar farms in rural areas were sited on agricultural land. ERS also states that wind energy is more compatible with agriculture production than solar.

In Memory: Walter D. Armer, Jr., of Vail, Arizona

The ASFMRA has just received notification of the passing of long-standing member Walter D. Armer, Jr., ARA-Retired. The Society was honored and pleased to welcome Wally into the membership in 1972 as an Associate member. He obtained his Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation and maintained his Accredited membership until 2023 when he transferred to the Retired membership classification. Wally made many friends through his association with the ASFMRA who will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Information received from the Arizona Chapter of ASFMRA regarding Wally’s passing – Walter was born March 24, 1942, he lived a full life and passed away peacefully at his home on May 10, 2024. Wally impacted many of us with a long career in agriculture brokerage and valuation in Arizona. He left a legacy through his career and service in Arizona's rural and agricultural communities throughout his life. A Celebration of Life will be held July 13, 2:00-5:00 pm at Mountain Oyster Club. Memories & Condolences can be shared here.