ASA Directors, Staff Gather in Washington for July Board Meeting and Issues Forum

South Dakota soy growers visit legislators on Capitol Hill during ASA’s annual July board meeting. Soy growers and lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds, John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, discussed important issues such as trade, Farm Bill, tax reform and biodiesel. Photo courtesy of South Dakota Soybean Association Facebook

In Washington this week, the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) board of directors and other leaders in the soybean industry met for its annual July meeting and Issues Forum, discussing issues including trade, infrastructure, tax reform and other issues of importance to the industry, including the upcoming farm bill negotiations.

During the Issues Forum on Tuesday afternoon, attendees heard from Ray Starling, special assistant to President Donald Trump for agriculture, trade and food assistance, who spoke to the plans and mindset for the White House as it moves in the coming months to tackle issues facing the soybean industry and agriculture as a whole. Starling, who sits on the National Economic Council, specifically noted the president’s efforts to move the needle on trade agreements with partners in North America and the Asia-Pacific regions.

Representatives from the Washington Council Ernst & Young and K-Coe Isom discussed the likelihood and ramifications of a comprehensive tax reform package and what potential that may hold for soybean farmers, especially on the issues of on-farm accounting and expensing, as well as the biodiesel tax incentive. Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek also led a panel discussion on rural transportation infrastructure with Farm Credit and the American Association of Port Authorities, focusing primarily on the benefits and liabilities presented by the proposal on infrastructure spending advanced by Trump.

ASA directors with NASS Crops Branch Chief Lance Honig during the NASS Lock Up this week in D.C. Photo courtesy of NASS

Wednesday saw ASA directors meet with more than 100 lawmakers from across soybean country, as well as administration officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury. Several board members also had the opportunity to attend USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) Lock Up and hear firsthand the latest estimates on crops, livestock and economic indicators for the ag industry. NASS Crops Branch Chief Lance Honig provided the briefing. Capping a successful Wednesday was ASA’s annual congressional reception in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

During Thursday’s board meeting, ASA’s board advocacy teams met to examine issues more in-depth, and one of the most important discussions occurred on the subject of dicamba and reports in Mid-Southern states of potential herbicide damage. Farmers and industry partners engaged in a productive discussion to establish a path forward on addressing what is a serious issue for many growers across soybean country.