Jan 03, 2019
The American Soybean Association (ASA) entered 2019 focused on achieving key federal legislative and regulatory priorities that can benefit soybean farmer competitiveness and profitability.
Topping the list for 2019 is pushing the Administration to resolve its tariff war with China, including rescinding its Section 301 duties if China agrees to lift its 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans. When and if this happens, the process of rebuilding the U.S. market in China could take years. So, ASA is also pressing to open Free Trade Agreement negotiations with other countries that have potential to import more soy and livestock products. In addition to the European Union, Great Britain and Japan, prospects include Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Another initiative to increase U.S. competitiveness is to double funding for the FMD and MAP export promotion programs. Funding projects that upgrade the inland waterway system infrastructure is also high on ASA’s list. Finally, ASA remains focused on extending the biodiesel tax credit, both retroactively for 2018 and forward to 2023. Each of these priorities would help restore U.S. competitiveness and farmer profitability in 2019 and future years.
One must-do item no longer on the list is enacting the 2018 Farm Bill. ASA pushed hard for Congress to find strong bipartisan majorities to pass the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” which President Donald Trump signed on Dec. 20. The legislation extends programs that have provided a needed assurance of price and income protection, and allows producers to choose between the PLC and county ARC programs four times on a farm-by-farm and crop-by-crop basis.
The bill also raises the soybean marketing assistance loan rate to $6.20 from $5 per bushel, and increases the cap on the CRP to 27 from 24 million acres. These provisions were strongly supported by ASA. ASA also worked to convince the Administration to approve a second MFP payment in December, providing soybean farmers with $1.65 per bushel on their entire 2018 production.