Commodity organizations serve as a link between farmers and legislators. This connection is one of the ways farmers’ concerns and priorities can reach their leaders in Washington, D.C.
Alan Kemper, a soybean, corn and cattle producer from Lafayette, Ind., is ready to tackle the major policy issues facing agriculture today as president of the American Soybean Association.
“We have 90-plus new members of Congress, the largest turnover since 1932,” he explained during his recent visit to Farm Journal. “A lot of educational efforts are going to have to take place with the members of Congress and their staff.”
Kemper says the hardest part is making sure Congress realizes the money it spends on agriculture is worthwhile. “We have a lot of new members who are of the reform or cut mentality,” he says.
Crop insurance improvements are another area to focus on to help remove the variability in production ag. These risk management tools, Kemper says, can help farmers, both young and seasoned, stay on the farm.
To ensure that soybean farmers have consistent and profitable markets for their products, Kemper says, inter-national trade remains a top priority. Currently, the key soybean markets include China, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the European Union. “Agriculture trade is hugely important in the soybean world,” he says.
When it comes to international trade, resistance to biotechnology and the use of genetically modified traits still creates barriers. “Biotechnology can be a good word or a bad word,” Kemper says. “We have our work cut out for us to keep our products accepted around the world.”
Kemper says that to feed the world by 2050, biotechnology and modern agriculture will have to be on the table but that’s not the only solution.
“So many times, we get caught up in agriculture [and think] that we are the only thing in town,” he says. “But consumers still need choices.”
In today’s uncertain times, Kemper says, working together within and outside of agriculture is a requirement.
The key to creating positive changes in agriculture, he says, is by creating a united front.
“American agriculture has to be united for this next couple of years. We cannot have a fractionalization of agriculture and expect any good results.”