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  • Combines are beginning to roll through U.S. soybean fields.

    American farmers have harvested about 6 percent of the 2018 soybean crop, the USDA’s latest Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin says. That number is up from 4 percent at this time last year.

  • A recent report from the European Commission shows that the United States has become Europe’s main supplier of soybeans, reaching a 52% share compared with 25% in the same period last year.

  • In South Africa, more than 50% of working age adults don’t have jobs. But is the country asking the right questions when it comes to understanding what drives people’s employment-related decisions? Research on unemployment mostly focuses on getting wages right. But there are also many non-monetary reasons that motivate South Africans’ work-related decisions.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture released reports on quarterly stock levels for major grains as well as wheat production from the 2018 crop. As always, the commodity market was watching closely and generally found the report to be bearish. 

  • he U.S. trade deficit widened in August to the biggest in six months as soybean exports plunged and a measure of the gap with China hit a record, showing how the Trump administration’s trade war is dragging on economic growth.

  • The current world-record holder for milk production calls Selz-Pralle Dairy near Humbird, Wisconsin home after producing 78,170 pounds of milk in 365 days.

  • Giant wind turbines that generate fossil fuel–free power add a little heat of their own to the planet.

  • There has been a massive drop in Chilean apple exports to its leading market, the U.S., over the last couple of years, while shipments to destinations including Europe and India have shot up. 

  • You probably didn’t know it, but we are experiencing a trucking boom. According to recent sales data, June 2018 was the biggest month for Class 8 big rig trucks sales… ever! And this is a good thing. Booming truck sales mean a very healthy economy and emission reductions. 

  • With US President Donald Trump threatening to raise import duties on an additional $267 billion worth of Chinese products on top of the tariffs already in place, it is worth pausing to reflect on what the trade wars of the past can teach us about the likely outcomes of the current dispute, especially as South Africa seems likely to get caught up in the cross-fire. 

  • A report released by the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that if the world continues to warm at its current rate, global temperatures will rise by 1,5°C between 2030 and 2052.

  • US crop progress data has shown stable quality conditions for both staple crops corn and soybean, but both harvests' progress remains behind expectations on bad weather, data from the USDA has shown late Monday.

  • Prices for organic food-grade grain and soybeans in the August-September period declined from June-July, with wheat prices also down from a year ago but corn and soybeans above year-ago levels, according to Mercaris, the organic and non-GMO trading platform and market information company.

  • On Friday, as a caravan of nearly 7,000 Central American migrants continued to move north from its origin in Honduras, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary James Mattis had approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for enhanced capabilities along the southwest border.

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday offered its first thorough postmortem of the recent E. coli outbreaklinked to romaine lettuce.

  • The United States Department of Homeland Security issued a report that states that precision agriculture is vulnerable to digital threats.

  • The last time the Farm Aid hotline rang like this, Ronald Reagan was president and Willie Nelson was playing a huge concert to raise money for hundreds of thousands of farmers across the country who were facing financial ruin. By the autumn of 1985, America’s “farm crisis” was suddenly a thing.

  • The USDA attache in Beijing has slashed its estimate of Chinese imports of soybeans this year 9.5% to 85 million mt – bringing it more in line with Chinese estimates and front-running the Washington DC office's new projection to be published on Thursday.

  • The USA is still of the best countries when it comes to farming. If you are a South African Farmers and you want to move to the USA- you need alot of rands to buy farm land in the USA.  Here is a few stats regarding a few states. 

    Southeastern Idaho and Utah

    In sunny, dry Utah and southeastern Idaho, land prices are holding firm, even in one of the most severe droughts in history. Wildfires have destroyed substantial amounts of fall and winter grazing and caused alfalfa hay prices to significantly increase. Hay prices are also high due to reduced production from the drought. This has maintained confidence in firm land prices and anticipated farm income for 2018 and 2019 due to decreasing hay inventories. The remainder of crop income continues to be low along with depressed dairy income. This is pressuring land prices, but so far, no significant decrease is apparent. Investment groups have discovered Idaho farmland opportunities, which has helped maintain price pressure.

    California

    One of the major factors affecting California agriculture is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA will eventually reduce groundwater extraction in most or all of California in the future. The extent of the reduction is unknown, but there will be fallow ground in some areas because of the lack of water. Other areas appear to be nearly in balance with sustainable groundwater and might not need to fallow much land. SGMA has had at least two effects on land values. In areas where there is no water district and the water table is in critical overdraft, land values have declined to $9,000 per acre and could decline even further. For land with excellent water conditions, values have increased from $24,000 per acre to $27,000 per acre.

    Nebraska

    For the fourth consecutive year, the all-land value average across the state of Nebraska was about 4% lower than the average in the year prior. However, the Nebraska real estate market rate of decline has slowed from prior years. The biggest concerns in the market value of land will depend on the length of time tariffs are in place, suppressed crop prices and the state’s high property tax policies. Good-quality land is holding steady, and values for lower quality land are definitely softer and more variable.
    It’s important to note Nebraska has diverse land resource characteristics. Values for center pivot irrigated cropland across the state have declined by 3%, and those for dryland cropland range from $7,000 in the east to $670 in the west.

    Iowa

    Iowa’s crops are predicted to set new records this year. The middle one-third of the state has had the best run of weather all year and will see the highest yields. The northern side was wet earlier, and the southern side has been dry. However, better hybrids and improved management practices resulted in a great crop that developed ahead of normal.

    We’re entering “selling season” for farmland in western Iowa. Normally, about 75% of public land sales occur in the second half of the year with each month gaining volume into December. Most nonfamily or nontenant transactions are made at public auction. Consider that a truer test of this market area than nonexposed transactions. A search of “cropland only” sales in mid-August indicated more activity than the previous two years up to that point; expect that trend to continue for the year.

    As another item, acres per transaction are lower. With basically steady prices on good land, that means total dollars per transaction are also down by roughly 10%. Although the appetite to purchase additional land is strong, economic caution is persuading many to opt for smaller purchases with smaller financial commitments. Farmers typically buy about 75% of the cropland available.

    Minnesota

    The first half of 2018 saw a steady to slightly stronger land market for farms with high-quality soils, good drainage and excellent farmability. Farms with average soils, below-average drainage and less-than-perfect farmability were 3% to 6% lower in the first half of 2018. Weather conditions in June and July combined with lower commodity prices resulted in a slightly weaker market for prime-quality farms and more significant discounts for lower quality land. Prime-quality farms will bring $7,500 to $9,000 per acre, and average-quality farms are in the $5,500 to $7,500 range.

    In the fourth quarter of 2018, inventory of properties for sale is increasing. Final yield results, length of time tariffs are in place, local supply of land and interest rates will impact future values.

    Illinois

    We are in the midst of some unique times in Illinois agricultural real estate. “Unique” might be underestimating the situation. Illinois saw historically high prices in 2013/14 that have been softening ever since. Annual dips in values have been anywhere from 2% to 10% since then.

    I expect to see a continued decline in land values; it will only be a matter of how significant a decline. In 2017, my precise area of Illinois logged declines of 2% to 5% for Class A acreage. I suspect we will see a steeper decline for 2018 when it is all said and done. The two main issues providing weakness to the corn and soybean market, thus effecting land values, are the ongoing trade disputes and tariffs and the exceptional supply of grain we are producing.

    Mid-South

    The overall theme continues to be limited supply and strong demand in the mid-South. The recent USDA Land Values publication reported land values had seen a year-over-year increase of about 2.2%. However, when you look at irrigated land and land with high-class soils, the year’s growth pushes 3% with some isolated markets higher. High-quality properties are in strong demand and move quickly if priced properly.

    Recent sales have brought a range of $5,000 to $6,000 for premium properties, which are almost always 100% irrigated and highly improved. Prices then fall off by 15% to 20% for irrigated ground that needs further improvements and discounted again for unimproved dryland farms.

  • Two-way agricultural trade between the United States and countries in Southern Africa reached a record $1.5 billion last year, according to most recent international ag trade report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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