American Soybean Association (ASA) and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Director Joel Schreurs shared a flight from Minneapolis to Washington D.C. with Rep. Collin Peterson this week, and received a heads-up that 2018 Farm Bill talks were hitting a snag over funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Both parties are in agreement over much of the farm bill, but Collin says SNAP has been the biggest roadblock,” Schreurs says. “We’ll have to wait and see if we get a new farm bill, which is our hope, or an extension of the current one.”
Schreurs and other directors met with several federal legislators representing Minnesota during ASA’s Hill Visits. The group met with Sen. Tina Smith for more than an hour in their first meeting with the senator since her January appointment.
“Our meeting with Sen. Smith went very well. She was very receptive to our concerns about the RFS,” Schreurs says. “She’s a supporter of biodiesel and told us she’s going to support policies that help Minnesota farmers.”
Schruers also met with legislative assistants for Rep. Tim Walz and Rep. Tom Emmer.
“Even though we didn’t meet with those legislators directly, the meetings went as well as could be expected,” Schreurs says. “The overall outlook was better than I hoped.”
ASA Treasurer and MSGA Director Bill Gordon met with Peterson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Erik Paulsen and assistants to Rep. Jason Lewis. Gordon says infrastructure, international trade and tariffs were hot topics throughout the week.
“ASA’s stance is we want to be part of the solution, not the problem,” Gordon says. “We’re hoping China doesn’t retaliate in response to the tariffs, but it sounds like they will.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs Ted McKinney also updated the directors on what the possible implications the tariffs could mean for commodity groups.
“He explained the valid reasons for why President Trump made this decision,” Gordon says.
With an election season looming, Gordon says ASA and MSGA have a jam-packed agenda for 2018.
“Every election year is always interesting, and it looks like 2018 will be no different,” he says. “Certainly there are a lot of things going on with Minnesota agriculture, and we’re going to keep making sure our voices are heard.”