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Export Promotion Programs Export development programs, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development program (FMD), have helped build an export market of $150 billion. The public-private partnership among soy producers, the soy industry and the U.S. government creates a significant and positive boost to the U.S. economy. Biodiesel Fuel Education Program The Biodiesel Fuel Education Program was reauthorized at $2 million per year under Section 9006 of the 2018 Farm Bill. In previous farm bills the program received mandatory funding that did not require appropriations. However, the 2018 Farm Bill did not include mandatory funding for a number of Energy Title programs, including the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, but did reauthorize the program, making it eligible for discretionary funding through the annual Agriculture Appropriations bill. Through competitive grants administered by USDA, this program expands awareness and markets for domestic biodiesel demand. The program educates government and private sector entities and the public about the benefits of biodiesel, stimulates biodiesel consumption and development of biodiesel infrastructure. The program focuses on educational programs that support advances in infrastructure, technology transfer, fuel quality, fuel safety and increasing feedstock production. Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) AFRI is the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed research program for fundamental and applied sciences in agriculture. ASA has strongly supported AFRI since its creation in the 2008 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes AFRI funding of $700 million annually. Even with the small but steady increases Congress has provided to AFRI, the fiscal year 2020 funding of $425 million was well short of authorized levels. Conservation Funding ASA supports mandatory farm bill funding for voluntary conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP encourages partnerships to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales. Several state soybean associations are partners in RCPP programs. International Food Assistance American farmers play a significant role in alleviating world hunger. ASA supports U.S. food assistance programs that provide development and emergency assistance to developing nations.
Expanded Dredging of Mississippi River Ship Channel ASA applauds Congress for including funding for the Regional Dredge Demonstration Program in the year-end Energy and Water Appropriations bill. ASA also applauds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for including deepening of the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) in its Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan in February 2020. We appreciate congressional support of this project, which will significantly benefit the competitiveness of the U.S. soybean industry and individual farmer profitability when complete. Continued investment is critical to the success of this project. The 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 60% of U.S. soybean exports, along with 59% of corn exports –easily the top export region for both commodities. Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) research highlights that, if the MRSC is dredged to 50 feet, shipping costs for soybeans from Mississippi Gulf export terminals would decline 13 cents per bushel ($5 per metric ton). This is because a deeper river allows both use of larger ships and current ships can be loaded with more revenue-producing freight. Even soybean-growing states further from the river would benefit from increased modal competition between rail and barge. Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)/Locks & Dams The IWTF is funded by a 29 cent per-gallon barge fuel fee, which is paid by industry, including soybean farmers. The IWTF revenues are matched with funds from the general Treasury for a 50/50 cost-share of projects. In recent years, Congress has changed the cost share ratio for specific projects to 85/15 or 75/25 to accelerate their funding and completion. In the FY19 Energy & Water Appropriations bill, Congress shifted the cost share for the Chickamauga Lock & Dam project to 85/15. Industry supports shifting the cost share ratio for all IWTF projects to 75/25 or 85/15. Preconstruction Engineering & Design (PED) of NESP projects ASA supports $10 million for Preconstruction Engineering & Design (PED) of Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) projects, which includes locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi & Illinois system. The PED funding is provided outside of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and is necessary so that the NESP projects, including construction of new locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi & Illinois River systems, can begin when it is their turn in the queue (around 2024).
Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Funding for OPP, authorized in the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA) in addition to user fees, is critically important to ensure timely and thorough review, registration, and approval of crop protection tools for producers. Staffing has been reduced in recent years and funding well below statutory levels, which results in inefficient and slow approvals of products. ASA supports funding for OPP at the authorized levels of $128 million. Funding for OPP comes from three accounts within EPA:
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