To effectively navigate the challenging issues affecting agriculture and rural property management, today’s land experts continue to build on their leadership skills and strive to stay current on policies and regulations affecting their clients. ASFMRA’s annual Leadership Institute, conducted every September, delivers a hands-on course to sharpen these essential skills through a week of advocacy training, issues education, legislative networking and policy insights in our nation’s capital.

Seventeen farm managers, nine rural appraisers, ASFMRA staff and sponsor DuPont Pioneer attended this year’s institute on Sept. 12-16, 2016, in Washington, D.C., for valuable insights into top legislative and policy issues affecting their businesses and rural assets in their respective states.

Professional Development

Advocacy and leadership training early in the week helped participants hone their communications skills in preparation for networking meetings with their respective congressional representatives and staff members on Capitol Hill.

Members also gained new insights from meetings with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, FSA Administrator Val Dolcini and U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), former member of the House Ag Committee and current member of the Ways and Means Committee, also spoke to the group.

Focus on rural property issues

In addition to updates from several departments with rural property exposure, including USDA, FSA, and NRCS, members received public policy updates from national organizations involved with rural property promotion, including the American Farm Bureau, American Banking Association and American Society of Appraisers. Other shared meetings covered topics such as charitable contributions for conservation easements and perspectives from House economists on the current farm bill and projections for 2018.

Farm managers concentrated on the message of strong support for the crop revenue insurance program, and the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage components of the 2014 farm bill. Some members also had the opportunity to attend USDA’s “lock-in” session for an insider look at the release of the September Crop Production Report and the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate Reports. For farm managers, the week concluded with a tour of Chesapeake Farm, a DuPont property on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Appraisers focused on topics such as education, experience hours, changes in Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and the focus around the issue of rural valuation. One session of particular interest was hosted by the Department of Interior Office of Valuation Services, where a recurring comment was regarding the challenges of finding quality appraisers. Also, the lack of appraisal uniformity across jurisdictions—including licensing, experience, education and enforcement—was a major concern discussed with various department valuation chiefs during the visit. 

We’d like to offer our special thanks again to DuPont Pioneer for its support of the event, advocacy training and overall leadership development program for the attendees. We’re already looking forward to the program for 2017!

This article appeared in the November issue of Ag Pro magazine

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