Farmland values across the Midwest and Plains are steady or lower than they were last June under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and fears of declining farm income, said the largest U.S. farm management and real estate sales company. (No paywall)
The average value of U.S. cropland is marginally higher this year, but has changed little overall since the collapse of the commodity boom early this decade, said the USDA’s annual Land Values report on Tuesday. Higher values west of the Great Plains, led by a 5.4 percent increase in …
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he'll have a decision "sooner rather than later" — maybe by Friday or maybe next week in Iowa with the president — on whether unplanted cropland will be eligible for Trump tariff payments this year. The USDA initially said unplanted land would not be eligible for the up to $14.5 billion in trade-mitigation payments, but the huge amount of flooded land in the Midwest prompted a second look at the question.
The annual Plowprint report by the World Wildlife Fund estimates 2.5 million acres of virgin grasslands in the Great Plains were converted to cropland, or energy and urban development last year. While it's a smaller loss than the 3.7 million acres of 2015, the perennial loss of grasslands is a threat to water quality and wildlife habitat in the Plains, which stretch from Texas into the Canadian prairies.
Lawmakers from the Plains and Midwest filed companion bills in the House and Senate to discourage farmers from converting native sod into cropland nationwide by closing a crop insurance loophole. The legislation would require a reduction of crop-insurance subsidies for four years before producers could qualify for them.
A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters estimates that 139,000 square miles of cropland in or near urban areas rely heavily on untreated wastewater for irrigation, says Modern Farmer. That's far larger than a 2004 assessment that pegged the total at 77,200 square miles.
The average value of farmland including all land and buildings dipped $10 to $3,010 per acre acre in 2016 from a year earlier, the first such decline in the U.S. since the recession of 2009, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported in its annual Land Values Summary. Land values have been pressured by booming harvests and falling crop prices.
Virtually no organic honey sold commercially in the U.S. comes from domestic hives, as commodity-crop farmers convert ever more grassland into cropland, leaving honeybees with fewer pesticide-free fields to forage, reports Civil Eats. North Dakota, for instance, which produces more honey than any other state, lost more than 100,000 acres of grassland over the past decade.
The worldwide spike in food prices nearly a decade ago set off a land-buying surge by wealthy investors and nations wanting to shore up their food supply by acquiring cropland in developing nations. The surge was decried by critics as land grabs that would displace small farmers and herders. "The emerging new trend we wrote about in 2008 has continued and become worse," says the nonprofit Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN).