Our Incredible Vanishing Farmland


We lose three acres of farmland in the United States every minute. You read that right. Three acres every sixty seconds. This wakeup call comes courtesy of John Piotti, President of American Farmland Trust (AFT), who spoke about conservation and Farmland at the 2019 Trust in Food Symposium Jan. 15 and 16 in Chicago. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve lost 31 million acres of farmland—that’s equivalent to all the farmland in Iowa. That’s over 1.5 million acres a year, or three acres every minute,” Piotti says. READ ARTICLE

No Farms No Food

Greater Sage Grouse

Tuesday morning, at 9am, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement that the Greater Sage Grouse will not be listed on the endangered species list. “This is truly a historic day in the history of the American West cattle business,” said Oregon Cattlemen’s Executive Director Jerome Rosa. “Through collaborative efforts by ranchers, energy companies and conservationist reducing the decline of the sage grouse habitat in 11 Western states, the need for a listing was not needed.”  See entire article at AgWeb.com.

Accommodation Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

Texas Supreme Court:  Accommodation Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

Texas Agriculture Law Blog: Agrilife.org

GroundwaterIn an important decision that could have far-reaching impacts, the Texas Supreme Court sided with the Coyote Lake Ranch, holding that the accommodation doctrine does apply to groundwater in Texas.

This case is extremely important for Texas landowners and groundwater owners. For the first time, the Texas Supreme Court announced that the accommodation doctrine, previously applied only in oil and gas severances, will apply in groundwater severances as well.


Texas Real Estate Attorney Hammers WOTUS Reg

LandOwner Newsletter Vol 37 Issue 9 May 12, 2016

Texas Real Estate Attorney Hammers WOTUS Reg
A court stay is the only wall standing between landowner property rights and a federal takeover of most of the nation’s land, says Judon Fambrough, an attorney with the Teal Estate Center at Texas A & M University. The result of the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) means “the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction now extends well beyond the navigable waters of the U.S. to practically all waters if implemented,” says Fambrough.

“If implemented, it would freeze all land use in place at the time of the implementation. That means if you want to make any sort of change in the way you use your land, you will need to file for a permit with the EPA and Corps, which is estimated to take up to three years and cost $250,000 to obtain,” he explains. “If you don’t obtain a permit, you are subject to a fine of $37,500 per day until land is returned to its original use.”  READ article

CRP Enrollment Deadline

The most current general enrollment for the Conservation Reserve Program began December 1, 2015. Enrollment will run thru February 26, 2016.  According to the  USDA, “as of September, 2015. 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP.  CRP is also protecting 170,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times.”  Check out the USDA’s Celebrating 30 Years of the Conservation Reserve Program.

USDA Announces Conservation Incentives for Working Grass, Range and Pasture Lands

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland and pastureland while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands.

The initiative is part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally funded program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance…………………..The CRP-Grasslands initiative will provide participants who establish long-term, resource-conserving covers with annual rental payments up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land. Cost-share assistance also is available for up to 50 percent of the covers and other practices, such as cross fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. Participants may still conduct common grazing practices, produce hay, mow, or harvest for seed production, conduct fire rehabilitation, and construct firebreaks and fences. Read the Article Here.

Interesting Topics in Agriculture

Interesting Topics in Agriculture

Flake, McCain introduce bill to help reduce wildfire risk
U.S. senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, both Arizona Republicans, have introduced a bill that would reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.Legal scholars predict Utah land transfer takes the public out of public lands
Acquiring title to 31 million acres of public lands could lead to less public access, less public involvement in land-use decisions and perhaps a better chance that imperiled plants and animals win federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Using drones to sell homes — except in Washington
Douglas Trudeau wanted to do things the right way, he said, even though he knows peers who have ignored FAA rules prohibiting the use of drone photography and video for commercial purposes.

Disputes over land common for presidential libraries
With President Barack Obama expected to choose the site for his library in less than two months, Chicagoans are engaged in a bitter fight over a proposal to place it in a public park.

Rural lawmakers back federal land transfer report
Rural lawmakers are calling for Idaho to invest at least $750,000 to continue laying the groundwork for the transfer of federal lands to state ownership.

Land values down after long rise
Farm managers and rural appraiser groups from North Dakota and Minnesota have recently published reports confirming what most farmers and landowners already sense — land values and rental markets softened in the 2014 calendar year.

Colorado rejects limit on open-space land seizures
The rejected bill would have prevented counties from using eminent-domain laws to seize private land for open space, parks, conservation or preservation of views.

High-speed rail agency behind schedule in buying land
California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project is as much as a year behind schedule in buying the land needed to start construction.

N.D., Minnesota land values down after long rise
Fargo, N.D. — Farm managers and rural appraiser groups from North Dakota and Minnesota have recently published reports confirming land values and rental markets softened in the 2014 calendar year.

Iowa Farmer Prepares Himself After Farm Land Value Sees Biggest Decline Since 1986
Right now if you drive around Iowa, you could say most of the farm land looks the same. However, if you ask farmers like Mort Zenor of Woodbury County, he’d tell you there’s more to a farm than “meets the eye.”

Farm land remains a solid investment despite taxes, land prices
Even though agricultural property taxes in Indiana have risen by 33 percent since 2007, farm land continues to be one of the best investments a producer can make.

Bill would increase property taxes for farmers
A bill from a Kansas Senator would substantially increase the amount farmers and ranchers pay for property taxes.

$280M available for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make improvements.

Fed Appears to Hesitate on Raising Interest Rate
The Federal Reserve is not sounding like an institution that is ready to raise its benchmark interest rate in June.

New Mexico land commissioner halts renewal energy project. 
This $2 billion transmission project would carry electricity generated by renewable resources in New Mexico and Arizona to markets across the West.

Governor of Pennsylvania signs moratorium on fracking.
The executive order was signed to stop drilling on state lands but not on private land.

Study regarding Urban Croplands Performed
80% of urban croplands occur in low- to middle-income countries.

Bill to lower the farm and ranch property taxes is proposed in Nebraska.
Farmers and ranchers are paying a much higher portion of the local property tax bill than they did previously.

Hypothetic biofuel predictions without substantiation were made by the World Resources Institute.
The World Resource Institute fails to substantiate its claim that bioenergy is competing for food crops and land according to the Global Renewal Fuels Alliance.

U.S. offers land rights on the moon.
Federal Aviation Administration pens letter stating intention to allow commercial activities on the moon to be conducted on a non-interference basis.

Expect high beef prices for at least two years.
Record high prices are expected by cattle producers and consumers.

Agriculture is big business in Cayuga County in Alabama.
The county’s agricultural exports have increased to $65 million.

Time will tell if the declining oil prices will positively or negatively affect the real estate industry.
The short-term impact for most agents will probably be positive.

Costco sets its own rules for site selection.
See why no Costco is inside Dallas city limits yet.

Ag management strategies put on paper for 2015.
Farm businesses might consider some tactics during these volatile financial times in the farming business.

Land use, health, and infrastructure are priorities in Palo Altos.
Urban land planning is a key to this California community in 2015.

Forest Service releases final land management planning framework.
The Forest Service has established guidance documents that direct land managers’ implementation of the 2012 planning rule.

A bipartisan coalition introduced the Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2015 in the House (H.R. 641) and Senate (S. 330).
The proposal provides a permanent enhanced tax incentive to family farmers, ranchers, and other landowners who choose not to develop their land and instead preserve their property for conservation.

Student housing investors bought between $2.8 billion and $3.0 billion in properties in 2014.
New investors are going for student housing products.

Boost word of mouth referrals for your business.
Word of mouth is a strong marketing tool that takes strategy.

The EPA has withdrawn an interpretive rule regarding the Clean Water Act.
The interpretive rule is part of the larger Waters of the U.S. proposal issued by EPA last year being scrutinized by Congress.

Real estate exchange-traded funds could be in for a rocky ride.
If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates later this year as expected, REITS can take a hit.

Trends in Commercial Real Estate to Watch for in 2015
Position and be ready by knowing the trends.

RPT-U.S. grain farmers add debt as crop prices squeeze cash flow
U.S. grain farmers are boosting demand for loans from farm banks.

International Land in the News

Finally, Tokyo land prices to nudge higher
Land prices in Japan have been falling since its asset bubble burst in the early 1990s, but prices look set to rise, say analysts.

Some interesting facts about Canadian agriculture
In 1900, 50 cents of every dollar earned was spent on food. Today, Canadians spend just over 10 cents of every dollar we earn on food.

China to pilot rural land use reform
The State Council has passed a draft decision that will enable rural construction land to have the same rights and market price as state-owned construction land in some areas.

Australia tightens rules over foreign buying of agricultural land
Australia tightened rules on Wednesday over foreign ownership of its agricultural land amid concerns that it is losing control of its own food security.

Proposed South Africa ban on foreign land ownership aimed at farms: minister
In his State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma said foreigners would be barred from owning land and South African citizens will not be able to own more than 12,000 hectares, or the equivalent of two farms.

Making Win-Win Land Investments in the Developing World
With international investors increasingly interested in large-scale land-based investments across the developing world, advocates are working with governments, investors, and local communities to help secure socially responsible agreements that protect human rights

Finding winners and losers in global land use
The United States added about 7.6 million acres of forests between 1990 and 2010.

Land ceilings of no more than two farms owned by one person proposed.
Africa’s government setting limits on ownership.

Brazil completes forest export market report.
See the report covering diverse forest products.

US Senate Rejects Amendment on Lesser Prairie Chicken

US Senate Rejects Amendment on Lesser Prairie Chicken

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The U.S. Senate has rejected an amendment by Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas that would have removed the lesser prairie chicken from the federal government’s threatened species act.

The Kansas City Star reports Moran’s amendment to a bill intended to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline fell short of the 60 votes needed to be added to the measure.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year designated the lesser prairie chicken as threatened, which is one step below endangered under the Endangered Species Act.Moran says federal officials underestimated the bird’s population after a historic drought hit its habitat, and that its numbers have risen since then.

The lesser prairie chicken resides mainly in Kansas, but also is in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Posted on News Channel 10 January 29, 2015 2:39 PM CST

USDA Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers

June 4, 2014 Press Release – USDA Farm Service Agency

“Farmers, ranchers and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive land may now sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Additionally, retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program (TIP).”

See complete press release here.

“CRP consists of a ‘continuous’ and ‘general’ sign-up period.  Continuous sign up for the voluntary program starts June 9.”

“The Transition Incentives Program provides two additional years of payments for retired farmers and ranchers who transition expiring CRP acres to socially disadvantaged, military veteran, or beginning producers who return the land to sustainable grazing or crop production.  Sign up will also begin June 9.”