Farming News and Events from MGW

News & Events

USDA will be releasing an updated Crop Production Report on August 10th at 11:00 am CT

Liberty, Once Lost, is Lost Forever - Commentary by Jeff Waddell

Many Americans are willing to surrender their Constitutional rights. Free speech protections, the right to privacy and the right to bear arms to name a few.

We live in a time when the government can detain U.S. citizens without charging them and when federal agents' eavesdropping on emails and cell phones has become commonplace. Homeowners associations can prevent citizens from posting political signs, putting up Christmas lights or simply growing a garden.

These are prime examples of how our liberties are being threatened. And while we can curse the Patriot Act all we want, the truth is that our duly-elected Members of Congress passed that legislation. True, it initially was passed during the highly-emotional, reactionary weeks following 9/11. But then Congress extended it in 2011, with President Barack Obama in favor. The Patriot Act remains a lightning rod of criticism. If you think "it's hard to fight City Hall," it's all but impossible to get Washington to rescind its grip on this kind of power. But in addition to such big, clear threats to our freedom, we must also watch for everyday threats.

Unlike the craftily-named Patriot Act, most of the threats to our liberty start small and gain momentum and mass. Americans often sign away their liberties while doing something as uncontroversial as buying a home, for instance. In his pivotal book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government, Evan McKenzie, a political science professor and attorney, argues that private, residential government has serious implications for civil liberties. For example, no matter how freely one enters into an agreement with a residential association, the association inhibits choice, particularly as more and more builders form associations in order to control the appearance of their work - a kind of controlled uniformity, if you will.

Or, in the case of farmland usage rights, your land is yours to use only insofar as it doesn't prompt a lawsuit from your neighbors. Just ask any farmer unfortunate enough to farm in an area of suburban sprawl. Or Google "NIMBY" - Not In My Back Yard - and learn more about the efforts of residential communities efforts to control what is built on land adjacent to their... land they don't even own.

It's no longer enough to know your rights and defend them; now, we must always be on the lookout for those instances when people are trying to infringe upon our rights. As Thomas Jefferson noted, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Indeed, we must be careful to remember that the government is there "not to run your personal life, not to run the economy and not to pretend that we can tell the world how they ought to live," as one pro-rights congressman has put it. "There is only one kind of freedom and that's individual liberty. Our lives come from our creator and our liberty comes from our creator. It has nothing to do with government granting it."

Many of these rights may never return - but that's all the more reason to guard against future losses of liberties. The next time you support a government position that takes away your freedoms, ask yourself: Just what have I agreed to here? How might this process be different if my rights had never been infringed? Diligence is the key to protecting these rights, both for ourselves and for future generations.

"A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored," John Adams wisely warned. "Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

"America's Best Brokerages"

Martin, Goodrich & Waddell, Inc. Ranked as one of America's Best Brokerage & Land Auction Firms.

We are pleased to report that our firm was recently named as one of "America's Best Brokerages" by The Land Report, "The Magazine of the American Landowner". Their second annual survey of the country's leading real estate firms specializing in land noted our depth of expertise, specifically our experience in farmland, transitional land, development land, and recreational land.

The editors of The Land Report also ranked Martin, Goodrich & Waddell Inc. as one of the "Top 30 Auction Houses" in the nation. Besides naming us as one of the top auction houses in the country, the report goes on to say, "The firm was established in 1975. It offers auction and brokerage services in addition to appraisals and management of agricultural properties."

The Land Report also stated, "The firm combines close to 40 years of experience with data-driven marketing in an ideal combination of instinct and technology." We are pleased to be recognized as one of the best brokerage and land auction firms in America, and we look forward to continually improving our ability to deliver the best service and results in the industry.

Your Crop's In The Ground - Now What?

Planting season has cranked full steam ahead for the nation's corn farmers - a record-breaking 43% of the corn crop was planted the week of May 13 alone. The newly released planting intentions report indicates a full 86% of the corn crop is now in the ground.

The logical next question is now, "How is it going to do this year?" That's largely determined by your own production practices, but anyone who survived the historical drought last year knows all too well that weather can make or break a crop, too. Is the summer of 2013 lining up for a repeat performance? Here are some highlights from the latest Accuweather summer outlook.

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Mommsen Awarded AARE Designation

Mark T. Mommsen, Managing Auctioneer and Broker for Martin, Goodrich & Waddell Inc., has received his designation as an Accredited Auctioneer Real Estate (AARE) an honor earned by fewer than 350 people in the United States.

The National Auctioneers Association's (NAA) Education Institute issues the title, which requires successful completion of 42 hours of classroom training as well as a case study and ten recorded real estate auctions. The program offers expert training in residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial real estate marketing, including evaluating property, preparing important financial documents and preparing the property itself for auction. In order to maintain his AARE status, Mommsen will need to complete 24 hours of continuing education every three years.

"The AARE designation communicates to prospective clients and buyers that the auctioneer is committed to continuing education and can ethically and professionally execute a real estate auction," NAA officials say. "The need for expertise in land sales is higher now than ever before," Mommsen says. "My pursuit of the designation stems from my desire to provide the best possible knowledge, service and results in every transaction. I am fortunate to be passionate about my work as a land broker and auctioneer, and I remain committed to performing at my best each day."

The NAA is the world's largest professional association dedicated to professional auctioneers, representing the interests of thousands of auctioneers in the United States, Canada and across the world.

Diedrich Awarded AFM Designation

Steve Diedrich, Farm and Property Manager for Martin, Goodrich & Waddell Inc., has been awarded the Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) designation by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA).

This designation demonstrates Diedrich has completed stringent education and experience requirements as well as rigorous oral and written examinations and has maintained the highest standards of integrity, professionalism, competence and ethics. He joins a select percentage of the ASFMRA membership who has received, and must maintain through continuing education, the accredited status.

"We are pleased with the commitment to professional excellence Steve Diedrich has shown," says Paul J. Joerger, AFM, national president of the ASFMRA. "By receiving this designation, his clients, associates and industry peers can easily recognize his personal investment and dedication to maintaining an exceptional degree of knowledge and skill."

"It is important for me to continually learn and grow to be a top farm manager for our owners," says Diedrich, who has been working toward his AFM for five years. "I want our clients to have the confidence of knowing that they are working with a professional who is qualified to represent them well."

The ASFMRA is the recognized leader as an international organization for professionals who provide management, consultation and valuation services on agricultural and rural assets.

Surging farm land market brings opportunities

Even in the depths of winter, Chris Gould's thoughts are never far from the land.

Few things, after all, are more key to his career, helping to grow operations at his family's farming business along the Kane-DeKalb county line near Maple Park.

But recently, Gould's thoughts have not necessarily focused exclusively on land he or his family now own, rent and farm.

Rather, in some of his idle time, his mind (like those of other local farmers) has drifted to thoughts of land he or his family might buy.

"Yes, I'm looking, keeping my eyes open for something here around Kane and DeKalb," said Gould. "If you have the cash, if you have the opportunity, and if it's in the right place, a piece of farm land right now could be a great bargain."

"And I know I'm not the only who sees that."

For decades, many would have questioned the business savvy of anyone other than a home builder, speculator or developer even thinking about entering the market to buy farm land in western Kane and eastern DeKalb counties.

Few regions of the country added more homes, more shopping centers, more everything, at a faster rate than did Kane County in the past 25 years.

And that rapid growth and development resulted in locally unprecedented demand for dirt.

It was routine, for instance, for those who owned open land, if it was located in the right place - near Elburn, Sugar Grove or the west sides of any of the Tri-Cities, for example - to slap a "For Sale" sign on their property, and then watch competing offers roll in from speculators, investors and developers eager to try their hand at the region's booming housing market.

As a result of the intense demand for land, values in the region soared, with parcels selling for $30,000 an acre - or more.

The market pressures led many farmers lucky enough to own land locally to cash in, and begin to contemplate a future for Kane of fewer and fewer farms producing corn, soybeans and other commodities.

But then, a funny thing happened on the way to endless suburbia.

In the later years of the past decade, the housing market collapsed. Demand for new homes along the suburban fringe all but dried up. A large number of developers and home builders who just years or even months earlier had plowed millions of dollars into purchases of land slated for new homes or shopping centers went bankrupt or left the market.

And the value of the land for development purposes suddenly collapsed.

At its trough, the value of development land fell to as little as one-tenth its worth at the height of the housing boom.

Meanwhile, as the developers' desire for local land dried up, farm land locally and in other areas of Illinois and elsewhere in the Midwest soon came under pressure from other sources.

The prices of grain, and particularly corn, surged in the past half decade, fueled by a combination of surging demand for ethanol, supported by high oil prices and government ethanol production mandates and subsidies, and by hunger for American grain exports worldwide.

Since 2005, the price of a bushel of corn has risen from around $2 to as high as $7 last year.

While the price of corn has eased somewhat in the months since, it remains historically high, and is expected to remain so, with markets offering 2013 corn futures around $5.50 a bushel.

Those strong prices left farmers in the region and elsewhere suddenly in a stronger financial position. As they were able to meet operational expenses and pay down debt, some had cash left over to invest, said Josh Waddell, a real estate agent specializing in farm land, with the farm management and land brokerage firm Martin, Goodrich and Waddell in Sycamore.

And, at the same time, interest rates have remained relatively low, making loans easier for many to balance. A number of farmers have seized the opportunity, planting their new investable income in what they know best: farm land.

"For them, it's just a matter of investing in their operations," Waddell said. "It's almost like investing in themselves."

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