Voting delegates of the American Soybean Association reaffirmed the association's commitment to critical soybean industry priorities during its annual meeting during the final day of the 2013 Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.
"The resolutions process is a great reminder that ASA's policies come directly from the ground up," said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. "The policies are raised, voted on and established as ASA priorities through an entirely farmer-driven process. It keeps farmers involved and it keeps ASA firmly tied to the everyday concerns of soybean farmers."
Within the farm bill resolution language, ASA maintained that any new farm bill must not distort planting decisions, and it should protect and strengthen crop insurance as a viable risk management tool for soybean producers. While ASA supported the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage program in previous farm bill negotiations, ASA noted that it recognizes funding may be insufficient to cover the cost of this type of program, in which case, ASA also expressed its openness to consider strengthening the current crop insurance program with a Supplemental Coverage Option program similar to that which was included in both the Senate and House versions of the bill.
Given that ASA recognizes some commodities also are interested in a program that protects against long-term price declines, the voting delegates affirmed ASA's openness to including a program based on target prices and price losses in a new farm bill, provided that payments are decoupled from planting decisions. ASA will continue to oppose a target price program that would interfere with the ability of producers to respond to the market by distorting planting decisions.
Also in the farm bill discussion, delegates noted that in order to pay for the costs of improvements to crop insurance, SCO, and a decoupled target price program and to meet part of any deficit reduction targets, Direct Payments may have to be reduced or eliminated. As has been ASA's position throughout the negotiations, ASA encourages agriculture to accept its fair share of spending reductions, provided they are proportionate with cuts to other federal programs and do not weaken the federal crop insurance program.
The farm bill resolution approved by the delegates also contained language encouraging Congress to protect valuable programs streamlining conservation programs, reauthorizing and funding biodiesel and biobased education programs, agricultural research, trade development and food aid programs.
ASA's delegates formalized the association's support of a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with the European Union that would provide meaningful market access for exports of U.S. soybean products and address trade barriers, including current EU biotechnology policies, and the Renewable Energy Directive.
ASA continues support of funding for waterways infrastructure including additional and alternative financing measures that provide a steadier and more reliable funding stream to reduce project costs and timeframes for completion.
Biotechnology was also a key topic of discussion, as delegates voted to encourage the swift approval and deregulation of high-oleic soybeans. The delegates also established the association's opposition to state food labeling requirements that go beyond those implemented by the federal government.
On regulatory matters, ASA's delegates supported raising the quantity of on-farm fuel storage that would be subject to the EPA's new regulations requiring containment plans and practices to 10,000 gallons or greater. Delegates also expressed support for voluntary conservation and water-quality programs that are farmer led.
Finally, delegates endorsed the work undertaken by the soybean industry to develop a "U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol" that documents and promotes to buyers worldwide that U.S. soybeans are the world's most sustainably-produced soybeans.