Freeman: ASA Board Meetings Focus on Advocacy

This past week, I joined other Minnesota Soybean Grower Association (MSGA) members in Washington D.C. to attend the summer meeting for the American Soybean Association (ASA). There were many highlights to this visit, especially spending a day on Capitol Hill, exchanging information and making the priorities of soybean farmers known to our legislators.

The excitement began Monday morning with the much anticipated strategic planning committee report. Everyone was in an agreement with the end goal of ASA narrowing its focus to becoming the best possible advocate for soybean farmers. If adopted, change would take place over the next couple years. The level of trust and respect between the states lead to constructive dialog focused around the strategic plan.

The next day was filled with more ASA meetings. During the meeting, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp received the “Friend of Agriculture” award for being a standout supporter of agriculture.

In her remarks Heitkamp asked, “Who else but a farmer puts a million dollars of inputs into the ground with no guarantees of an output? All they can do is trust in the weather, markets and policy that they will get something back in return.”

We had the privilege of having Jonathon Coppess, Administrator of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), present to our group. Coppess said that 97 percent of soybean base acres were enrolled in ARC-County. Most of those farmers used the online decision aid last January and February.

ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program was also reviewed at the business meeting. The program is aimed toward developing countries to stimulate demand for soy in human health nutrition. I can see why Barb Overlie, Ron Bunger and now George Goblish are excited to be part of the WISHH committee. ASA’s support to WISHH is leveraged six to one by working with partners and industry.

On ASA membership, the delegate voted to have a one percent increase goal during the 2015-2016 year.

I was able to spent a little time with Aaron Yaggie from Thief River Falls, Minn., as he was there completing phase three of the ASA DuPont Young Leader program. As we engage new leaders like Aaron, the future for MSGA looks very bright.

The hill visits will be detailed later by MSGA Vice President Theresia Gillie, also chair of the advocacy action team.