ASA President Talks Policy and Building USB Relationship

March 4, 2010 06:00 PM

Greg Vincent, AgWeb Editor
Speaking at the 2010 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif., President of the American Soybean Association Rob Joslin outlined his concerns and agenda for the coming year. Among his biggest issues for the year are:
  • Implementation of new regulations coming down that are part of a court ruling relating to the Clean Water Act;
  • Avoiding the possibility of re-opening the 2007 Farm Bill;
  • Securing re-instatement of the biodiesel tax credit;
  • Rebuilding the association's relationship with the United Soybean Board (USB).
Hear his remarks:
From a regulatory standpoint, Joslin is very concerned about how new regulations will be implemented regarding pesticide applications near waterways. Resulting from a ruling by the U.S. sixth district court last year how, when and where farmers apply pesticides will be impacted. Joslin and ASA members are working with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure proper implementation of the program.
"This could apply to commercial applicators, as well as private applicators. It's very hard to work with. I think EPA is looking at millions and millions of applications and they just don't have the manpower to do this. So I think they realize that and they're looking at something that's more practical.”
Joslin received a report from the House Ag Committee on Thursday morning and they have decided to not move forward on reexamination of the current farm bill. He says that is a positive step, but it does not mean the issue is resolved.
The biodiesel tax credit that expired at the end of 2009 is still not resolved. ASA 1st Vice President Alan Kemper of Indiana says getting the issue wrapped up by the Easter break is a key date. If it's not resolved by then, there is a very good chance it won't settle until the summer session.
ASA estimates losses to U.S. soybean growers are in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to the lack of the tax credit. "I feel like a bride that comes to the altar and every time I go to the altar, I come away without a ring,” Joslin says. "Until we get that back in place, we have 23,000 U.S. workers idled, a lot of them in rural areas. A lot of them are not paying taxes and a lot of them are drawing unemployment. Very simply for the U.S. soybean producers, it's costing them about 25 cents for every bushel of soybeans. That's $250 for every semi-load going through the elevator.”
The soybean industry is making strides in an attempt to rebuild its relationship with USB after it called on the Office of Inspector General to investigate potential mismanagement of funds by the group that manages the soybean checkoff dollars. Both Joslin and USB Chairman Phil Bradshaw have expressed their desire to mend the relationship. However, a request by ASA to receive all documents from USB under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) last May has recently resurfaced.
Sources close to the USB said they believed the fervor over the request had died down, but in the past four to six weeks it has become a bigger issue. ASA will not say what it is looking for with the request. While outwardly the two organizations are trying to put on a good face, the request is a source of tension.
USB sources say the ASA request is too broad-reaching and does not specify a time period for the documents they are requesting. As it stands now, the documents required to meet the FOIA request will fill two semi-truck trailer loads of papers. They estimate the cost to the checkoff is more than $100,000.
Joslin says the FOIA officers from the two divisions of USDA that oversee the checkoff have both reviewed the request and said "it is appropriate, it would add to understanding of USDA and their respective of organizations and there was no commercial interest by ASA.”
For More Information 
2010 Commodity Classic Coverage

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