ASA Applauds Senate Passage of Farm Bill

Calls for Quick Action in Conference in Time for 2002 Crops

 “U.S. soybean farmers congratulate the United States Senate on completion of floor action on the 2002 Farm Bill,” stated Bart Ruth, President of the American Soybean Association (ASA). “The Senate bill’s commodity provisions treat soybeans fairly and equitably with other program crops, and ASA looks forward to working with House and Senate Conferees to ensure the final bill is equally balanced, and is completed in time to be effective for 2002 crops.”

The Rising City, Nebraska soybean producer’s comments came after the Senate voted 58-40 to send its version of omnibus farm legislation to Conference with the House. Major features for soybeans in the five-year measure include:

  • A $5.75/bu. income support level, including a $5.20/Bu loan rate and a $0.55/Bu fixed payment for 2002 and 2003 crops. The fixed payment is reduced to $0.275 in 2004, and to $0.138 in 2006, as the $5.75 level continues to provide counter-cyclical income support during years of low prices.
  • Flexibility for farmers to either include soybeans in their current base acreage, or to update their bases to average crop plantings in 1996-2000.
  • Updated payment yields based on the average in 1998-2001, dropping the lowest year and any years in which the crop was not produced.
  • An increase in mandatory funding for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Cooperator program to $42.5 million from the current level of $33 million.
  • Annual funding of $16 million for a new Biotechnology and Agricultural Trade (BAT) program to conduct outreach on the benefits of biotech with developing countries, a proposal initiated by ASA.

“We also appreciate the flexibility this legislation provides to enable farmers to either keep their existing base acres or to update bases and payment yields,” Ruth said.

The legislation now moves to a House-Senate Conference, where differences will be reconciled with a House bill that provides significantly less support for soybeans. While action could take several weeks, Members of Congress would like to finish Conference before the Easter recess begins on March 22, in time for the bill to take effect with 2002 crops.

“ASA urges Conferees for both the Senate and the House to work quickly so the new farm bill can be effective with this year’s crops,” Ruth said. “Since the Department of Agriculture has not announced loan rate levels for 2002 crops, producers don’t know what their safety net will be when they plant this Spring.” Ruth concluded that “soybean farmers will work closely with Conferees to ensure that the final product treats all producers and all crops fairly and equitably.”