Dec 17, 2020
Last week, at the ASA virtual board meeting, I had the honor of being elected to serve as chairman of the ASA Governing Committee. Sitting around, looking at everyone's virtual faces, I reflected on the drastic difference of just a year ago.
My presidency at ASA started with a sprint. A week after the 2019 board meeting in St. Louis we received news the Biodiesel Tax Credit had been extended through 2022. In Jan. 2020, we were elated with the China Phase 1 Agreement, and I was able to travel to D.C. to watch it get signed by President Trump. Shortly after, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed, and we thought we were on a roll. All the hard work that ASA directors, past and present, had put into the last few years, advocating tirelessly on behalf of U.S. soy from their farms to Capitol Hill was producing results. And then COVID-19 struck and all travel came to a halt.
While we can dwell on all the things that we missed because of COVID-19, I am so proud of the resilience of ASA Directors, farmer-leaders and ASA staff. We took this challenge by the horns and ran with it. Throughout the year, we advocated for market access, RFS integrity, waterways investments, broadband connectivity, biotech and crop protection tools, and COVID regulatory and financial relief to help support rural communities and family farms – among many other important ASA priorities. We adapted from in-person events to virtual meetings, hosting Advocacy Team meetings over Zoom that had phenomenal participation from all ASA directors and allowed us to witness our colleagues' policy work. We virtually advocated our policy priorities to Congress through our Soy Action Center and the 2020 #SeeSoyHarvest Campaign. While legislators couldn't see our faces in person, we amplified our voices and the voices of U.S. soy growers. None of this would be possible without our farmer advocacy efforts.
When I look back on the past 100 years of ASA, I can relate to how the Fouts brothers felt as they sat on their farm in Indiana, not knowing the future of soybeans. Here we are 100 years later, wondering, "what are we going to do if we can't get together in person?" and "what are we going to do if we can't advocate on the Hill or with our partners in the federal agencies?" But just like the Fouts brothers, we're not going to let the "what ifs" stop us. We've stepped up to the challenges of 2020, and as we head into a new year with Kevin Scott leading us as president and a new board and Governing Committee, I remind you all why you're here and a part of ASA. You are here to make a difference and usher U.S. soy into the next 100 years.