first_imgThe American Soybean Association (ASA) has made public a list of necessary provisions that it believes must be included as part of a 1999 farm relief plan. ASA approved these measures at it recently-concluded Board of Directors meeting in Saint Louis. ASA’s announcement comes in advance of an Agricultural Appropriations vote in the United States Senate that could come as early as next week.ASA President Marc Curtis said, “The American Soybean Association has repeatedly called for Congress and the Administration to take additional steps to strengthen the farm safety net, expand foreign markets, and ensure the vitality of the U.S. farm economy under the 1996 FAIR Act.”While some measures have been taken, prices of soybeans and other commodities have fallen to lows not seen since the early 1970’s. ASA urges immediate action on the following initiatives as separate legislation or as part of a 1999 farm relief plan:Soybean Economic Loss Assistance—Because soybeans are not part of the Agricultural Market Transition Act (AMTA) formula, these payments do not offset income losses caused by the lowest soybean prices in 29 years. Since other crops are tied to a producer’s historical share of crop acreage, soybean payments should be distributed based on a producer’s share of total soybean production in 1999.Loan Deficiency Payment (LDP) Limitation—ASA supports measures to reduce problems associated with the $75,000 cap on LDPs and marketing loan gains. Since there is no cap on loan eligibility, and prices are well below loan levels, the current ceiling on LDPs will force producers to take out loans and forfeit their crops when they mature. This would cause serious market disruption, increase unnecessary storage costs, and require the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to develop plans for resale of large quantities of commodities.Disaster Assistance—Losses experienced by soybean producers should be included in any disaster payment program passed by Congress for the 1999/2000 crop.Crop Insurance Reform—Legislation to target increased funding at higher levels of coverage and to change the current rating system to reflect current growing practices and trends is pending before Congress. Unless enacted separately, these provisions should be included in the 1999 farm aid package.Soy Purchase and Donation/Concessional Sales Export Assistance Initiative—ASA has been working with USDA, private voluntary organizations, and soy processors and exporters to develop proposals to increase U.S. humanitarian assistance programming of soybeans and soy products by $1.0 billion in FY-1999 and FY-2000. Congress should urge USDA to utilize existing CCC Charter Act and various food aid authorities to implement ASA’s $1 billion soy food initiative.B-20 (Biodiesel) Cost Buy-Down for EPACT Fleets—Congress amended the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) last year to allow public and private fleets to earn credits against their EPACT requirements by using B-20 blends in their diesel-powered vehicles. Congress should provide $250 million to buy down the cost of 50 million gallons of biodiesel to comply with EPACT and other Federal programs. It is estimated that this action would increase the price of soybeans by 10 cents per bushel (a program offset worth $290 million on the 1999 crop).Use of Soy Protein in USDA Food Programs—New soy protein products are available for use as a nutritious and healthy component of the school lunch program and other government feeding initiatives. Use of these products would be a win-win for the recipients as well as soybean producers since new soy protein products represent a major emerging market. The Department of Agriculture should take every opportunity to increase use of soy protein in the school lunch and other Federal feeding programs.Funding for Export Promotion Programs—FY-2000 funding for export market development promotion activities carried out by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) should be increased by $15 million for the Foreign Market Development (Cooperator) Program, $35 million for the Market Access Program (MAP), and $10 million to offset higher FAS administrative costs in carrying out export market development programs.Economic Sanctions Reform—Congress is considering several bills that would exempt agriculture from current and future unilateral economic sanctions. If not separately enacted, the strongest and most comprehensive version of sanctions legislation should be included in the farm relief package.Research Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems—The Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems was authorized in FY-1998 but has not been funded. The Initiative addresses critical emerging agricultural research needs, and should be fully funded at $625 million.Funding for Infrastructure Renovation & Improvement—Improving the U.S. infrastructure system is critical to maintaining and enhancing U.S. agricultural competitiveness in domestic and international markets. Congress should authorize $1.2 billion for 1,200-foot locks on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and immediately appropriate $9 million for their design.last_img read more