ACRE — Farm Bill Webinar: A closer look at the new ACRE program

Which of the new farm bill provisions represents some of the most far-reaching reforms and also the most complexity? Without a doubt, it’s the new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program.

The concept behind this new program is simple: pay farmers when revenues drop below normal revenue levels rather than a program like direct payments that dishes out dollars whether or not there has been a yield or price drop. Yet, farmers must give up 20% of their fixed direct payment and accept a 30% decline in loan rates for ACRE – a program that may or may not pay.

Still, it’s the formula for implementing the ACRE program, starting in 2009, that has some farmers excited and deficit hawks nervous—especially if commodity prices slump and farm payments start to go through the roof. Depending on where USDA establishes the price triggers, growers who enroll in ACRE could enjoy a substantial safety net.

Participation is far from being a no-brainer, as many had expected, says Kansas State Extension Ag Economist Art Barnaby. This is an extremely complex program that requires two separate triggers to be met before payment will be issued. The ACRE program will depend on the market, but it is far more likely to generate payments on corn, wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum than the counter-cyclical or marketing loan provisions.     Register for this webinar


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Emerging Nations Cultivate Agriculture Brands

Farm products are traditionally sold as commodities.  Yet, some farmers earn greater profits by branding the geographic regions where their goods are grown – for example, Parma ham in Italy or French products sold under the Appellation d’origine controlee label.  But what if the farm products come from less renowned origins – Brazil, for instance?    Read More

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Building Your Farm’s Reputation

Even in an age of sophisticated, worldwide communication and data sharing, opinion still carries “heavyweight” influence. Should your land be marketed, you need a solid reputation that will pass the scrutiny of local farmers and landowners.  Their consensus on your property’s reputation will ultimately factor into the perceived income potential or capital value of your agricultural investment.

Property value is, after all, dictated by a given market’s expectation of production or potential, and is established by those willing to buy it.  Potential buyers want to come to the table with some level of knowledge about your agricultural land.

A good source of information is local farmers with a firsthand view of your property, especially if the potential investor lives in another state or is not from a farming background.


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Coombs Family Farms Announces 2008 Maple Crop Report and Industry Analysis

Maple Supply Down, World Demand Up; More Support for Small Family Farms Needed. Seventh Generation Maple Farm Discusses 2008 Crop and Future.

Brattleboro, VT (PRWEB) June 11, 2008 — Coombs Family Farms, a seventh generation maple producer and champion of small family farming, today announced its crop report and industry analysis for 2008. Brevity of season, a nearly depleted carry over from previous years, an increase in world maple demand, and a decrease in the number of family farms still in business, all have contributed to the trickle down of the world’s maple supply.

“This year’s sugaring season started late and ended on time giving us a shortened window of opportunity to produce,” said Arnold Coombs, Seventh Generation Maple Farmer, Chairman of the Vermont Maple Industry Council, and General Manager of Coombs Family Farms. “It appears that due to poor 2007 and 2008 crops around the world, supply today is 33% short of what the market needs.”

Last year’s shortfall was covered by syrup carried over from previous year’s production, but this year we’re not as lucky

“Like all farmers, we depend on a variety of factors including Mother Nature,” continued Coombs. “But there are other issues at play. As an industry, we need to employ best practices for sustainable forestry and we need to support each other. Small family farms are a dying breed. We not only need more maple, but also we need more family farms.”

Coombs Family Farms has worked their own land and tapped trees since 1840, and proudly support other small family maple farmers who share its commitment to quality, environmental stewardship and sustainable forestry. Not only does Coombs Family Farms buy maple syrup from hundreds of small family farmers, but also together with its sister company, Bascom Family Farms, it provides badly needed cash flow via pre-season credit for equipment, and conducts free training and educational seminars about topics such as maple forest management, responsible tree tapping, energy-saving reverse osmosis evaporators, organic certification, decreasing carbon footprint, and producing value-added maple products.

The world market for pure maple–conventional and organic in all grades and formats–is estimated at 110,000,000 to 120,000,000 lbs. Maple is used as an all-natural sweetener and flavor enhancer in breakfast and baked goods, but also in deli meats, beverages, sauces and savory dishes. Leading international corporations such as Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, Quaker, and Boar’s Head, just to name a few, use maple as an ingredient in their products.

Maple production, or “sugaring” occurs as early as the end of February and continues as late as early April. Maple syrup is a farmed product made simply from boiling down sap with no additives or preservatives, it’s ultimately dependent on weather, forestry practices, and seasonal conditions each year. It also depends on how many farms are still producing maple.

America’s farmers, especially on small family farms, have dwindled in number and are under extreme economic pressure. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, the U.S. lost nearly 9,000 family farms, or more than one farm per hour between 2005 and 2006. Each day, 3,000 acres of farmland are lost to development.

“Last year’s shortfall was covered by syrup carried over from previous year’s production, but this year we’re not as lucky,” said Coombs. “Ironically, it’s a great time to be a maple farmer because not only are prices high but also world demand is higher since the early 1900s.”

Coombs Family Farms products include certified organic maple syrup, 100% pure maple syrups in various grades and sizes, pure maple candies, pure maple sugar, and pancake mixes. Coombs Family Farms never uses pesticides or artificial ingredients and employs sustainable forestry and sugaring practices and was one of the early adopters and proponents of health spouts. All Coombs Family Farms maple syrups are available in Grade A light amber, Grade A medium amber, Grade A dark amber, Grade B, and Commercial Grade maple syrup for restaurants and food companies.

About Coombs Family Farms
Pure maple has been a way of life at Coombs Family Farms for seven generations. Coombs Family Farms has produced 100% pure maple since 1840. Since 1988, Coombs Family Farms has produced certified organic maple syrup. A champion of small family farming, Coombs Family Farms also sources 100% pure organic certified maple from other small, independent farmers who share the Coombs commitment to quality, environmental stewardship, and sustainable forestry management. To learn more about Coombs Family Farms maple, please visit


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Farmland Dissapearing to Urban Sprawl

According to American Farmland Trust, more than 6 million acres (an area the size of Maryland ) were taken out of agriculture and developed between 1992 and 1997.

Within the next 32 years, this country will add 100 million people to its population, bringing the total to 400 million. How we use land in that growth will only become more of an issue.

When it’s time to sell farmland, it’s often hard to make the choice on whether to sell it to developers, or to sell it to someone who will keep farming the land.

Read Joe Link’s article, to see what some communities are doing about this.

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The Appraisal Foundation Seeks Candidates for National Boards

WASHINGTON, DC–The Appraisal Foundation is beginning its annual search for qualified candidates to serve on the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) and the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB).  Completed applications for these vacancies must be received by August 1, 2008.  


Appraiser Qualifications Board:  There are up to three vacancies on the AQB.  The AQB is responsible for setting minimum qualification criteria for state licensure and certification of real estate appraisers and has established voluntary qualification criteria for personal property appraisers.  Familiarity with appraiser qualifications is a pre-requisite of service on the AQB, and a minimum of ten years of appraisal experience is required.  The AQB meets four times per year for approximately ten days in total.  Individuals serving on the AQB are compensated for their time and are reimbursed for travel expenses.  The individuals selected for the AQB positions will serve a term of up to three-years commencing January 1, 2009.  


Appraisal Standards Board:  There are up to four vacancies on the ASB.  The ASB is charged with developing, interpreting and amending the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).  Familiarity with USPAP is a pre-requisite of service on the ASB, and a minimum of ten years of appraisal experience is required.   The ASB meets five times per year for approximately fifteen days in total.  Individuals serving on the ASB are compensated for their time and are reimbursed for travel expenses.   The individuals selected for a position on the ASB will serve a term of up to three-years commencing January 1, 2009. 


The Appraisal Foundation is interested in expanding the diversity of all Boards by considering applicationsfrom business leaders with an interest in valuation or involved in various appraisal disciplines such as business valuation or personal property.


Application packages for all positions outlined above are now available on-line at the Foundation web site. To find the application on the web site, please click on “Mission” in the far left column of the homepage and then “To Apply”.


If you would like to request an application package via emailor if you have questions please feel free to contact Anne Raley (  When requesting information on the applications via e-mail, please use the phrase “2008 BOARDS APPLICATION INFORMATION” in the subject line, and please include your full name, mailing address and phone number.



Contact Information:

Paula Douglas

Executive Administrator



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House OKs farm bill by veto-proof margin

May 15, 2008

WASHINGTON – The House emphatically approved a major five-year farm bill by a veto-proof margin yesterday, setting up President Bush for a major political embarrassment.

Brushing off Bush’s opposition, many Republicans joined a majority of Democrats in approving the farm bill, 318-106. This is well over the two-thirds vote needed to override Bush’s promised veto.

“We’ve solved a lot of problems in this bill,” said Rep. Collin C. Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “We have a bill that covers all of the interests in the country.”

For the first time, the bill includes funds for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, which would be guaranteed $690 million over 10 years, with more expected after the first five.    More


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