ASA Voting Delegates Set Policy Direction for 2002-2003

To determine the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA), 130 soybean farmers from all across the country assembled during the seventh annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show that was held this year in Nashville, Tennessee. The group included board members, voting delegates and other ASA members who participated in this annual process to review and amend the document that will guide the ASA for the next year as it pursues initiatives designed to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability. Among the modification were noteworthy changes and additions in the areas of Farm Programs, Trade, Food Aid, Transportation, Biotechnology, and Research, Education and Natural Resources.

Farm Programs

ASA supports the option of using existing or updated base acres and crop yields for any future farm payments. ASA also supports allowing producers who have had a county disaster declaration the option to delete those year(s) from their payment yield determinations.

ASA believes soybeans should be a program crop and be included in the event Congress approves a counter-cyclical income support program to compensate producers when crop revenue is lower than revenue in previous years. ASA supports soybean eligibility for production flexibility contracts or similar payments in the 2002 Farm Bill. The soybean marketing loan should be maintained at a minimum of $5.26 per bushel for the remainder of the 1996 FAIR Act and should be a major soybean program component in future farm bills. ASA supports non-recourse marketing loans.

ASA opposes limitations and means testing on federal farm payments and loans made to US farmers. ASA supports provisions that would prevent restricting eligibility for marketing loan gains or Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs). ASA supports the three-entity rule.

ASA supports providing a payment to producers of 2002 crop oilseeds in the event Congress approves a supplemental Agricultural Marketing Transition Act (AMTA) payment to producers of other crops. Oilseed payments should be based on historical production data prior to 2002 crop oilseeds.

Trade

ASA is urging Congress to authorize and fully fund the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program at a minimum of $42.5 million and the Market Access Program (MAP) at a minimum of $200 million. ASA is urging China’s adherence to the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement for soybeans and soybean products. ASA supports granting the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

ASA strongly supports the Biotechnology and Agricultural Trade (BAT) program at the level of $21 million a year. The program addresses continuing efforts on market access, regulatory and marketing issues related to export of agricultural biotechnology products.

Food Aid

ASA strongly supports food aid as a humanitarian, economic and market development tool and is urging Congress to increase federal funding for food aid programs. ASA’s specific food aid policy recommendations are:

  • The administration should commit to the programming of 5.6 million metric tons of food aid per year as the US contribution to significantly reducing hunger by 2015, for an approximate total of $2.85 billion. This amount should be consistent and budgeted through annual appropriations, and not predicated on non-discretionary spending and the principle of surplus disposal.
  • The Global Food for Education legislation should receive legislative priority, funding at the targeted $750 million level, and direction to seek participation and contributions from G-8 and other developed countries.
  • The guidelines and regulations governing monetization programs should be streamlined; the potential benefit of using monetization as a market development tool should be emphasized, while the risks for market disruption are mitigated.
  • The Administration should permit authorized agencies to implement food aid programs without relying on an interagency process.

ASA strongly supports the efforts of US government agencies to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the developing world and suggests that policy makers and implementers recognize the role nutrition can play in mitigating the effects of HIV/AIDS on populations in those developing areas. Soybean growers call on USAID to increase its nutritional emphasis in dealing with the AIDS pandemic.

Energy

ASA recommends that biodiesel blends be accepted as a national energy policy in order to promote domestic renewable energy resources, protect engine warranties and service life as a result of improved non-toxic lubricity value, and to also promote biodiesel as the preferred industry choice. ASA supports the inclusion of biodiesel in proposals to establish a national renewable fuel standard.

ASA encourages legislation that supports biodiesel and biodiesel blends with respect to all federal and state energy programs, including tax incentives. ASA supports the efforts of individual states to enact biodiesel or biodiesel blend requirements within their state.

ASA strongly urges that all state and federal diesel vehicles use a biodiesel fuel or a biodiesel blend. ASA favors continued rebate of Federal and State fuel taxes on fuels used in non-highway uses, and urges the Department of Transportation to use Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program funds to buy down the cost of biodiesel used in federal, state, and municipal fleets.

Transportation

ASA supports the improvement of the navigation system on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. ASA supports the improvement/replacement of Locks and Dams 25, 24, 22, 21 and 20 on the Mississippi River and the LaGrange and Peoria Locks on the Illinois River to 1,200 foot structures, and the modification and expansion of other facilities that increase transportation efficiency.

ASA opposes the changes proposed by the US Army Corps of Engineers to the Master Plan for management of the Missouri River Basin. ASA supports the master plan alternatives that keep navigation and inland drainage on the lower Missouri as top priorities.

Biotechnology

ASA strongly supports biotechnology and believes the development of biotechnology-enhanced crop varieties and products will benefit farmers, consumers and the environment. ASA believes biotechnology is a key tool that will help us meet growing world food, health and energy needs.

ASA supports mandatory review and approval of all biotechnology-enhanced crops by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and supports policy that assures that proper marketing protocols are developed and implemented so that germplasm or varieties approved for specific, non-generic use do not enter the commodity soybean market.

Research, Education and Natural Resources

ASA supports the efforts of the National Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) and state councils intended to promote research funding for food and agriculture initiatives. ASA supports the appropriation of more state and federal research dollars for land-grant colleges and universities in order to retain soybean production and improve profits and competitiveness. ASA recommends that more Federal funds be channeled through the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Research Education & Extension and be earmarked for soybean research, utilization and education as a means to improve quality traits (protein and oil), increase yields, and lower input costs, to increase profitability.

Cropland erosion and fresh water quality are matters of national concern that call for reevaluation and increased funding of Federal cost-sharing practices such as terracing, strip cropping, grassed waterways and field borders, cover crops and other traditional soil and water management practices; ASA supports voluntary programs and encourages the adoption of Best Management Practices and believes there must be adequate government compensation for such cost sharing practices.

ASA encourages EPA to work with producers to develop voluntary, incentive-based programs that would assist producers in meeting any current and future air quality standards. ASA favors air quality standards for agriculture that are ecologically and economically attainable, and that are supported by science-based and peer-reviewed research.

ASA supports the expedited approval process for new environmentally friendly crop protection products. ASA also supports an expedited process for Section 18 Emergency Labeling.