Members from the American Soybean Association (ASA), after a two-day board meeting, headed for Capitol Hill to do some lobbying. Board members went to their respective state Congressmen to explain issues face-to-face that are paramount to the nation’s soybean growers. Pictured with growers are Senators Tom Daschle from South Dakota and Paul Wellstone from Minnesota.

Here is ASA’s stance on the big issues that need Congressional attention:

Agriculture in the Federal Budget

When the FAIR Act was enacted, Congress and the Administration pledged to expand trade opportunities, stimulate domestic demand, expand research funding, improve infrastructure, and provide tax and regulatory relief to farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately, few of these promises have been fulfilled, and large government outlays have been required in recent years to support farm income. Congress needs to complete the unfinished agenda, and provide adequate support for agriculture in the interim.

The FY-2002 Budget Resolution should provide emergency funding to maintain farm income support at recent levels for the 2001 and 2002 crops, and give sufficient flexibility to the Agriculture Committees to develop effective programs in the next farm bill.

2002 Farm Bill and Domestic Farm Programs

Soybeans must be treated equitably in the new Farm Bill, including being included in an AMTA/PFC program. Funding should be increased by $1.65 billion so that the percentage of AMTA payments received by soybean producers is equal to the percentage value of soybeans compared to other crops (29%). Producer payments should be based on average soybean production in 1998-2000.

Non-recourse marketing loans and the current loan rate formula should be continued. Current loan rate ceilings should be set as floors, including the soybean loan rate of $5.26/bu. The loan repayment rate for soybeans should be the lesser of the PCP or the Adjusted World Price.

A counter-cyclical income support program should be established, with annual payments compensating any shortfall in the national average return per acre for a crop from that crop’s Olympic average return per acre in 1993-1997, on 85% of a producer’s acres.

The 2002 Farm Bill should include funding for voluntary conservation payments ($1.5 billion) and an increase in agricultural research ($1 billion).

Biodiesel

A national renewable standard should be established for all transportation fuels. Both biodiesel and ethanol would be eligible as the renewable substitute for petroleum-based fuels.

Diesel fuel blended with 2% biodiesel (B2) should receive a 3 cent/gallon exemption from the diesel fuel excise tax. The Highway Trust Fund would be reimbursed for lost tax revenue by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). It is estimated that budget savings to the CCC resulting from reduced outlays under the soybean marketing loan program will be more than twice the cost of this tax exemption.

Soy Food Aid and the WISHH Program

ASA is asking USDA to increase soy food aid to $800 million per year. Thus far in FY-2001, soy food aid programming is running 85% below the levels provided in FY-1999 and FY-2000. ASA and state check-off organizations have established the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program to expand the role of soy products in U.S humanitarian assistance programs, including Food for Peace (P.L. 480), Food for Progress the Global Food for Education Initiative, and HIV/AIDS programs (see separate briefing paper).

AID should approve specifications for soy protein products to its list of food aid commodities, and should add crude degummed soybean oil and soybean meal as eligible value-added products under Title II of P.L. 480.

USDA and NIH need to utilize the $25 million in Section 416 funds designated for HIV/AIDS programs. Congress should develop a permanent mechanism to support agricultural nutrition in AIDS programs worldwide.

Appropriation Priorities

CCC funding of the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in FY-2002 must be increased from $27.5 to $35 million for FY-2002, and a commitment must be made to cover any contingent liabilities. The next farm bill should increase FMD funding to $43.25 million to give the U.S. the same among of market development resources (adjusted for global inflation) that was provided in 1986, and fund MAP at $200 million.

Soybean research funding in FY-2002 should be increased by a total of $5.15 million over this year’s level to address urgent research needs and to bring soybean research funding to a more comparable level with other major crops (see separate briefing paper).

Trade Promotion Authority

Congress should provide Trade Promotion Authority this year, and a comprehensive round of global trade negotiations under the WTO should be launched. With 96% of the world’s population living outside of the United States, income growth and food demand generated by trade expansion is key to restoring profitability to U.S. agriculture.

To learn more about the American Soybean Association visit their website at http://amsoy.org