As Rob Joslin takes the helm of the target="_new">American Soybean Association (ASA) in December, there's no bigger concern for him than keeping the U.S. livestock industry viable.
“It was my biggest challenge when I was Ohio Soybean Association president (2003-2005) because Brazil was expanding rapidly and we worried that livestock production could move there,” says Joslin, who grows about 500 acres each of soybeans and corn at Sidney, OH.
“Today, the livestock sector has had high feed prices and too many regulations. We need to try and return profitability to them. And we need to make sure regulations aren't onerous to producers. I'd hate to see our livestock industry migrate to another country,” Joslin says.
Of parallel importance, he says, are the regulations surrounding climate change legislation and how it affects all of agriculture, not just soybean farmers.
“There are lists of studies out now with different beginning assumptions, but they're all ending with different conclusions,” Joslin says. “Regardless, we're in an energy intensive industry and anything we add to it is a concern.
“We need to keep lobbying to communicate our message and get to know the right people,” he says. “Out of 535 congressmen, fewer than 10% now have any contact with farming.”
But right now, the most important initiative ASA faces is extending the biodiesel tax incentive beyond a single year, Joslin says. The bill introduced now is for a five-year extension. The current one expires Dec. 31.
“I think it's a good policy to have domestic biodiesel production and I don't have any problem asking for support. It serves our country and the non-farming sector well,” Joslin says.
He'd also like to get where the country has a standard 2% biodiesel blend. “I think it would help the distribution channels, especially across state lines,” he says. “The ethanol industry has already pretty well gotten there at a 10% blend.”
International indirect land use is on Joslin's docket, too, and he says ASA is concerned about “flawed assumptions” that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to use in its greenhouse gas analysis.
“But we're working with all ag groups on this issue,” he says. “I've been amazed at the Washington staffs of commodity groups and how they share work responsibilities and serve their members. I'm impressed with what we can accomplish with the resources we have.”
ON ANOTHER FRONT — aquaculture — Joslin is excited about the potential for domestic growth, because worldwide he says “it's showing tremendous growth. At this time roughly half of aquaculture is domestic vs. wild catch, and that amount is increasing.
“We don't have any regulatory process in the U.S. now and that's one of the reasons we don't have growth,” he says. “A U.S. regulatory framework is needed for this new source of demand for our soybean meal.” ASA supports enacting offshore aquaculture legislation that will create a system to develop the industry domestically.
Like most presidents, building membership will get Joslin's attention. “We have 25 state affiliates and we need to help all of them,” he says. “It's getting harder to get volunteers to recruit membership, so we have to look where we need to be in 10 years and start our own path to get there. And we have started to communicate with the next generation coming on with things like Twitter and Facebook. We have to look at membership differently.”
In fact, Joslin says if he could pick one thing people would remember from his term it would be delivering an effective way to grow membership where there's less strain on the volunteers.
“Membership is a strong priority for Rob,” says ASA Chairman John Hoffman. “He'll be a unifying force at ASA and he really knows regional issues.”
For more from Joslin, go to http://tinyurl.com/CSDJoslin to see a video on his thoughts.