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ASFMRA Ag News - July 2, 2024

By ASFMRA Press posted 9 days ago

  

Iowa Utilities Board Approves Permit for Controversial Summit Pipeline

The Iowa Utilities Board gave its approval Tuesday for the controversial Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline and for the company to use eminent domain to acquire landowners’ property.

The company hopes to begin construction next year with the goal of making the pipeline operational in 2026. The pipeline, which would be the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, would carry liquified carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Iowa and surrounding states to a site in North Dakota, where the company hopes for reconsideration and approval of a previously denied permit.

The pipeline would cross more than 2,000 miles across five states, including nearly 700 miles in Iowa. In planning the pipeline, Summit has partnered with 57 ethanol plants and the company says it has signed voluntary easement agreements with 75% of the Iowa route’s landowners.

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Can No-Till Raise Land Values?

It’s well-documented that soil health practices such as no-till and cover crops can benefit the environment and farmers’ pockets. But can it make farmland more valuable at sale time?

It’s a question several different institutions are grappling with, including one Midwestern nonprofit and Cornell University.

The Delta Institute has launched a pilot project to test a method for land appraisers to assign an accurate value to farmland that has various soil health practices installed. Meanwhile, Cornell University is conducting complementary work that examines economic and policy incentives that would encourage farmers to steward long-term soil health.

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ASFMRA Land Report with Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA

In this ASFMRA Land Report, Past President Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA, talks about the record flooding in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota, and what it means for agriculture.

Watch the Land Report


Two More Iowa Dairy Herds Reported With Avian Flu

Two more reports of avian flu in Sioux County dairy herds were announced on Thursday, marking the 13th report of bird flu in dairy cattle herds in Iowa for June. 

Sioux County’s problems with bird flu continue as these two recent reports leave the county with 12 reports of cattle herds and one chicken flock infected with the virus.

These two most recent cases of bird flu infected a 980-cow herd and one with 2,500 cattle. Cows generally recover from the virus within two weeks. The virus is typically deadly to poultry and flocks are culled to prevent spread of the infection.

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In Rural Michigan, Farmers Split Over Big Solar

Differing opinions about large solar energy projects are pitting neighbors against each other in rural areas of Livingston County.

Last November, the Legislature passed climate bills mandating utility companies to generate 60% of their energy from renewable sources, including solar and wind, by 2035, and 100% from state-approved clean energy sources by 2040.

To achieve those goals, the legislation authorized the state to override local bans on large-scale renewable energy projects. Several townships had blocked solar and wind projects across the state in recent years.

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ASFMRA Government Relations Update

CBO Releases Updated Baseline  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its updated budget estimates. Overall, the CBO estimates the FY 2024 deficit will be $1.9 trillion or 7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over the previous 50 years the deficit has averaged 3.7% of GDP. Federal debt to the public is estimated at 99% of GDP by the end of FY 2024 and rising to 122% by 2034. Increases in mandatory spending (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid primarily) along with increased interest payments (higher debt and higher interest rates) on the debt outweigh an expected increase in tax collections as the economy grows.

The CBO release also includes an updated baseline for the farm bill programs. The CBO also did not significantly change its estimate of the USDA Secretarial discretionary use (Section 5) of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). This is the discretionary authority that the House Committee passed farm bill blocks to generate an offset for additional commodity program spending. House Agriculture Committee Republicans claim the offset should generate over $50 billion in savings over 10 years. The CBO estimate is now $12 billion in spending (possible offset), see Appendix B on page 46.

Senator Stabenow released a statement following the CBO release claiming the House Committee passed farm bill uses “magic math” and is therefore not paid for in its current form. The Senate Agriculture Committee in the meantime does not appear to be headed towards a farm bill markup at the Committee level (a necessary step) any time soon.

Understanding CFIUS

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) published a blog by economist Daniel Munch about the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). Mr. Munch details USDA’s role in CFIUS, the history of CFIUS and the recent upward trend in the number of actions the committee has been tasked with reviewing.

USDA Seeks Comments on GHG Emissions from Domestic Biofuels Production

USDA is seeking comments by July 25, 2024, on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with the production of domestic agricultural commodities used as biofuel feedstock. Specifically, USDA seeks information on practices that have the potential to mitigate GHG emissions and/or sequester carbon, and quantification, reporting, and verification approaches for the GHG outcomes associated with domestic agricultural commodities used as biofuel feedstocks. 

The Federal Register notice outlines 26 questions where USDA is seeking specific input. Collecting and verifying specific farming practices has the potential to impact crop insurance if USDA can assign changes to insurance risk profiles from various production practices. Currently those changes are captured by the Actual Production History (APH) but according to some interest groups not in an efficient or discernable manner.

USDA Announces SNAP Error Rate
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payment error rate ticked upward to 11.68 percent in fiscal 2023 or $10 billion, the second straight year of sharply higher post-pandemic error rates, according to USDA. USDA says the error rate is a measurement of program administration accuracy and not fraud. SNAP error rates include over- and under-payment of benefits. 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Thompson (R-PA) and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Boozman (R-AR) released a joint press statement calling for USDA to intensify its oversight of State administration of the program. Proposals to improve the error rate via the farm bill have been met by opposition from Democrats.

RMA Makes Changes Prior to Contract Change Date  

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) published a final rule on June 27 to make contract changes prior to the June 30 contract change date. These regulatory changes will be carried through to insurance policy provisions effective for the 2025 and succeeding crop years with a June 30, 2024, contract change date and for the 2026 crop year for crops with a contract change date prior to June 30, 2024.

Even though the rule is final, RMA is seeking comments through August 26, 2024, at regulations.gov. The rule includes the following changes:

Enterprise and Optional Units:

  • Authorizes enterprise units (EU) for several specialty and perennial crops, as provided in the actuarial documents.
  • Authorizes optional units (OU) by non-contiguous parcels of land to qualify for EU.
  • Allows EUs by organic farming practice. 

Double Cropping and Annual Forage:

  • Clarifies a producer must prove insurance history for the annual forage crop and meet the current double cropping requirements to receive a full prevented planting payment. 

Assignment of Indemnity:

  • Provides flexibility for an indemnity payment to be issued via automated clearing house or other electronic means when these methods do not allow for multiple payees.
  • Clarifies when an assignee may assume the dispute resolution rights and obligations of the policyholder. 

Good Farming Practices:

  • Streamlines and shortens the FCIC good farming practice (GFP) reconsideration process by closing the administrative file following FCIC’s initial GFP determination. 
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