November 27, 2014

FCS of America CEO on Farmland Trends

With crop prices approaching multiyear lows, some folks believe the sprint higher in farmland values may have run its course.  Corn and soybean prices have been volatile and choppy following a tailspin to their lowest levels in five years on expectations for record yields and  hefty global supplies.  While commodity prices have an impact on farmland values, they’re not the only factor.  Many experts agree that whatever happens with interest rates in the near future will also help determine the likely path of farmland values.

We recently caught up with Doug Stark, President and CEO of Farm Credit Services of America, on the sidelines of Trade Talk in Kansas City…

Doug Stark






Doug Stark


Interest rates have been held in check for the past few years by a slumping overall economy.  With the national economy beginning to show signs of recovery, some pundits think a short-term rate hike is likely sometime next year.  Higher interest rates typically mean lower demand for farmland.  Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve Banks in Chicago and Kansas City reported that farmland values declined in those districts in the third quarter from the prior period, continuing a slowdown driven by back-to-back years of large U.S. corn and soybean crops and declining crop prices.


BNSF Addressing Safety in Casselton

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said he is pleased with actions taken by BNSF in response to the company’s comprehensive review and analysis of rail operations and infrastructure around Casselton following a November 13 train derailment, the second derailment in the area within the last year.

In a letter to Dalrymple and Casselton Mayor Lee Anderson, BNSF executive Vice President of Operations Gregory Fox listed several actions the company will take immediately to address rail safety in the area.

Following this month’s derailment, Dalrymple spoke with BNSF Railway Chairman and CEO Matt Rose, urging the state’s largest rail carrier to perform an exhaustive inspection of the track system around Casselton. The Governor suggested the company perform a complete analysis of rail track both east and west of Casselton and thoroughly inspect rail, base, ties, crossing areas and other infrastructure.

In the letter to Dalrymple and Anderson, BNSF provided an update on its progress to perform a “deep review and analysis of BNSF rail operations and infrastructure in the vicinity of Casselton.” The company outlined further steps it will take to ensure a safe operation and “provide additional confidence for the community that we are committed to their safety.”

Some of the actions BNSF is taking immediately to address rail safety in the Casselton area include Increasing the frequency for testing rail from five times per year to 12 per year.The railroad will also install equipment detectors on all routes leading into Casselton to flag issues before an incident occurs.


Fresh Faces for USFRA

The United Soybean Board recently congratulated soy checkoff farmer-leader Nancy Kavazanjian on her election as chairperson of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

Kavazanjian, a soybean farmer from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is in her fourth year as a USB farmer-director.

“Nancy is a dedicated farmer-director and a great asset to our industry,” says USB Chairman Jim Call, a soybean farmer from Madison, Minnesota. “She’ll continue to be a leader in telling ag’s story.”

Previously, Kavazanjian served as vice chairperson of USFRA, which consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture. The organization works to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised.

At the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention earlier this month, the Alliance announced the winners of its second class of the Faces of Farming and Ranching program.

Erin Brenneman (Iowa), Darrell Glaser (Texas), Jay Hill (New Mexico), Thomas Titus (Illnois) and Carla Wardin (Michigan) were all named program winners.


They will share their personal stories and experiences through consumer-facing public appearances, events, media interviews and social media.

“I could not be more impressed with this year’s new Faces of Farming and Ranching,” said Nancy Kavazanjian. “The first Faces of Farming and Ranching had a positive impact on consumers across the country, and we are sure this new class also will see success as they connect with consumers and share their stories about how food gets from their farm or ranch to our plates. So many outstanding farmers and ranchers stepped forward and offered to be a consumer Face for USFRA. We are overwhelmed with amount of individuals who are willing to be a representative of the nation’s agricultural community.”