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The widow and the orphan are too significant in the kingdom of God just to be pitied. They are not to be pitied. They are to be empowered.

- K.A. Ellis

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 Agriculture News


A decline in North Dakota cropland value of 1 percent was indicated by a January survey commissioned by the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands.....

    FARGO, N.D. (NDSU) - A decline in North Dakota cropland value of 1 percent was indicated by a January survey commissioned by the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands. Andrew Swenson, North Dakota State University Extension Service farm management specialist, derived regional and state average cropland values and rents from the published results of the county-level survey.

    Earlier reports suggest a greater loss of land value during 2016. A June 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture survey showed a 7 percent decline in North Dakota cropland values, and a report by the North Dakota Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers indicated an 8 percent decline during 2016.
    Swenson suggests that one reason the January survey indicated a more modest decline could be that it more fully reflected the impact on land values and rents from stronger-than-expected 2016 net farm income due to record corn and soybean yields. Soybeans and corn shattered previous record North Dakota yields by 14 and 20 percent, respectively. Also, soybean-harvested acreage was a record and corn acreage was the third highest in history.

    The most recent county-level survey indicated that cropland values (January 2016 to January 2017) were the strongest in the south Red River Valley region, increasing 5.5 percent (to $4,083), and the northwest region, increasing 3.8 percent (to $1,230). The east-central and north Red River Valley regions showed a 2.3 percent increase to $2,061 and $3,035, respectively.

    The southwest region had the greatest decrease, 7 percent (to $1,326), followed by the south-central region with a 4.5 percent decrease (to $1,597). Regions with declines ranging between 2.7 and 3.6 percent were the northeast (to $1,704), the southeast (to $2,827) and the north-central (to $1,682).

    The survey indicated that average cash rent per acre for cropland increased by about 2 percent from January 2016 to January 2017, after a 3.4 percent decline the previous year. The greatest increases were 4.4 percent in the southeast region (to $99.80) and 3.8 percent in the northeast (to $58.40). There was about a 3.2 percent increase of cropland rent per acre in the south-central region (to $58.70).

    All other regions showed an increase between 1 and about 2 percent. The average cropland cash rent per acre increased to $38.40 in the southwest, to $89.60 in the north Red River Valley, to $67.60 in the east-central region, to $36.40 in the northwest, to $124.60 in the south Red River Valley and to $51.20 in the north-central region.

    After three years of declining land values, Swenson believes that the land
market still is adjusting in the aftermath of an 11-year period, from 2003 through 2013, when cropland values averaged an annual increase of 15 percent, the strongest sustained run-up in cropland values during the past 100 years.

    "Producers are in a dangerous financial environment because crop prices have dropped faster than production costs," says Swenson. "Agriculture is a
competitive industry, and during several years of strong crop prices, which
peaked in 2012, producers were willing and able to spend more on production
inputs, including land."

    He adds, "On average, this resulted in a doubling of production costs per acre over an eight-year period, from 2004 to 2012. Overall production costs peaked in the 2013 to 2014 time frame and have been declining, but not fast enough to project profits. Strong yields in 2016 provided a temporary relief to the downward pressure on land values and rents. However, producers cannot bank on record yields each year and face continued pressure to reduce production costs, somehow, unless crop prices strengthen."

    The expectation of higher interest rates is another negative to land values. Higher interest rates not only increase a producer's borrowing costs on
operating loans, but also typically decrease what land buyers are willing to pay to achieve a higher desired rate of return.


    BISMARCK, ND (NDDA) - North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced that 37 proposals submitted for the industrial hemp pilot program have been approved. Those producers will plant a total of 3,124 acres in 18 counties.

    The 2017 growing season marks a substantial increase from the 70 acres of industrial hemp planted in North Dakota in 2016.

    "Industrial hemp may only be grown in North Dakota through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture's pilot program or by institutions of higher education," Goehring said. "The program's primary goal is to increase our knowledge of how industrial hemp fits into the existing agriculture landscape and economy. The producers will also be researching various field practices."

    A provision in the 2014 farm bill gives authority to state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes. Proposals were ranked by a committee and ultimately approved by the agriculture commissioner.

    This is the second year individuals will be able to grow industrial hemp in North Dakota. North Dakota State University's Langdon Research Extension Center has also been planting hemp in research plots since 2015.

    Industrial hemp can be used for oil, fiber, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, paper, construction materials and personal care.


   (Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)



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