Soybean group wants farm bill trade title improvements

The American Soybean Association says legislators need to address the trade title of the farm bill and provide additional funding.  Virginia Houston is their government affairs director. She tells Brownfield, “The trade promotion programs in the farm bill have really helped us over the last forty years become that top export crop through the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. Unfortunately, the programs are underfunded and over-subscribed and haven’t received an increase in funding in over 20 years.”

Houston says the next farm bill must also protect the soybean checkoff program, which along with research, education, and promotion investments, helps expand trade. “Traditional free trade agreements are not being pursued the way they used to be. We’re not looking at new agreements that include market access and tariff reduction measures, so they’re seeing that they need to invest more dollars this way so that industry can work on the ground, in country, with our counterparts, with our customers to address issues as the arise and build that demand on the ground.”

Houston says the USMCA was a re-negotiation of an old agreement, and the U.S. has not had a new comprehensive free trade agreement since the 2012 deal with Colombia.

She says the next farm bill also needs to allow voluntary updates to base acres, and soybean reference prices.

Audio: Virginia Houston with the American Soybean Association discusses several farm bill topics with Brownfield’s Larry Lee during the Wisconsin Corn-Soy-Pork Expo.

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