ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — Soybean producers from all U.S. soybean growing regions gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., the week of Feb. 27 to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA).
One hundred thirty three producers from ASA’s 26 state affiliates served as voting delegates in this annual process that guides the ASA as it pursues future initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability.
The voting delegates session was held on March 3 following conclusion of the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show that drew a record 6,014 attendees. What follows are some of the most significant additions and modifications covering a variety of important soybean issues.
- ASA supports legislation that would graduate Russia from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik amendment in order to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia.
- ASA opposes any proposal to merge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with other trade agencies. ASA believes that USTR should remain an independent agency within the Executive Office of the President, focusing on trade negotiations, trade agreements and trade enforcement.
- ASA strongly supports swift implementation of the Colombia, Panama and South Korea Free Trade Agreements.
- ASA opposes currency legislation or any action by Congress to unilaterally regulate the value of foreign currencies. ASA believes that currency legislation would create retaliatory actions that would negatively affect soybean trade. Instead, ASA supports an approach by the U.S. that engages the international community in its efforts to address global foreign exchange polices.
ASA supports the following provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill:
- Commodities Title. ASA developed and supports risk management concepts for the 2012 Farm Bill as a means to partially offset revenue losses that exceed a specified threshold, while complementing crop insurance. Payments under a revenue-based program should be commodity-specific, and based on the difference between historical and current-year revenue at the farm level. While based on current-year production, this approach will have less of an impact on planting decisions and production than a fixed target price program, since any payments would be based on actual revenue losses rather than a decline in prices from fixed support levels. Production agriculture has inherent risks, and properly designed farm policy must not remove all risks.
- Conservation Title. ASA supports maintaining and funding programs that encourage effective conservation practices on working lands. ASA supports reducing the cap on acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as part of any requirement to reduce spending under the 2012 Farm Bill and to allow U.S. producers to respond to increasing world demand for agricultural commodities.
- Energy Title. ASA supports reauthorization and funding of the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, and the Biobased Market Program in the Energy Title of the 2012 Farm Bill. ASA recognizes that energy programs do not have baseline funding beyond 2012. However, the benefits provided by the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program and the Biobased Market Program have been worth their relatively low cost, and warrant their continuation with an increased level of mandatory funding.
- Research Title. ASA supports reauthorization of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to expand competitive research at USDA, as well as reauthorization to maintain research capacity at our land-grant universities.
- Trade Title. ASA supports reauthorization of the Foreign Market Development (Cooperator) Program and the Market Access Program and continued annual funding of these export promotion programs at $34.5 million and $200 million, respectively.
- Transportation. ASA supports an infrastructure funding framework that allows for public and private investment in the U.S. commercial transportation system to ensure U.S. soybeans and soybean products will be delivered to domestic and international markets in a timely and cost effective manner. ASA supports legislation to require that all funds collected for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used for the intended purposes of waterways dredging and port maintenance.
- Crop Insurance. ASA supports returning moving the Federal Crop Insurance premiums due date be returned to Sept. 30 of each fiscal year. ASA strongly urges the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to make sure that one of the appointments to the board of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation have a major financial interest in the production of commodity soybeans.
- Biofuels. ASA supports the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) that reflects the expansion of the renewable fuels industry for biodiesel and ethanol and opposes any changes that would reduce obligations or otherwise negatively impact the biodiesel industry.
- Sustainability. ASA supports an aggregate approach to documenting the sustainability of U.S. soybean production. ASA believes U.S. federal and state conservation, environmental and labor laws, and existing U.S. farmer compliance with them, provide assurance that U.S. soybeans are sustainably produced.