Soybean producers from all U.S. soybean growing regions gathered in Nashville last week to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA). One hundred thirty three producers from ASA’s 26 state affiliates served as Voting Delegates in this annual process that guides the ASA as it pursues future initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability.
The voting delegates session was held on Saturday, March 3, following conclusion of the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show that drew a record 6,014 attendees. What follows are some of the most significant additions and modifications covering a variety of important soybean issues.
ASA supports legislation that would graduate Russia from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik amendment in order to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia.
ASA opposes any proposal to merge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with other trade agencies. ASA believes that USTR should remain an independent agency within the Executive Office of the President, focusing on trade negotiations, trade agreements and trade enforcement.
ASA strongly supports swift implementation of the Colombia, Panama and South Korea Free Trade Agreements.
ASA opposes currency legislation or any action by Congress to unilaterally regulate the value of foreign currencies. ASA believes that currency legislation would create retaliatory actions that would negatively affect soybean trade. Instead, ASA supports an approach by the U.S. that engages the international community in its efforts to address global foreign exchange polices.
ASA supports the following provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill:
ASA continues to strongly support programs in the 2012 Farm Bill that provide the greatest possible planting flexibility. Allowing and encouraging producers to respond to market signals rather than government programs has been a cornerstone of the last three farm bills, and enabled U.S. soybean plantings to increase by 15 million acres (nearly 25 percent) between 1995 and 2010.
ASA recognizes that budget constraints are likely to require restructuring farm programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. Agriculture should accept its fair share of any required spending reductions, provided they are proportionate with other federal programs and they do not require restructuring of the federal crop insurance program, which is the core safety net for producers of soybeans and other commodities.
ASA developed and supports risk management concepts for the 2012 Farm Bill as a means to partially offset revenue losses that exceed a specified threshold, while complementing crop insurance. Payments under a revenue-based program should be commodity-specific, and based on the difference between historical and current-year revenue at the farm level. While based on current-year production, this approach will have less of an impact on planting decisions and production than a fixed target price program, since any payments would be based on actual revenue losses rather than a decline in prices from fixed support levels. Production agriculture has inherent risks, and properly designed farm policy must not remove all risks.