Sunday with spring in the air, I took time to breathe in the freshness and anticipate a great growing season ahead. I fondly look ahead to sowing the seeds of optimism in my fields while listening to the markets and news on the radio, fully immersed in the free market system.
But back to the task at hand — this past week I visited Washington D.C. with fellow Minnesota Soybean Growers Association to keep soybean topics current with our legislators.
Monday morning, the American Soybean Association brought us up to speed on national legislative and regulatory issues. Many topics were a continuation of the discussions had at the resolutions process during Commodity Classic.
By Tuesday, during meetings with representatives and senators, it was clear our timing was excellent. The appropriations process is coming to a head, Waters of the United States hearings are taking place and the EPA was being taken to task on overreach. The mood through the day was up beat with the feel of possible progress.
We talked about trade agreements and the benefits of fast trade approval. We heard push back on the need for more transparency and maybe smart trade approval is better. The urban legislators emphasized trade agreements need to be fair with no loss of jobs.
An example of unfair trade is agreements that protect Canadian dairy producers to the point they generated profits to buy the two largest dairy product processors in the U.S. Trade with Cuba is still a question; keep in mind this is a small market with low Capitol.
An interesting twist on value added is their export of medical doctors as a source of funds to run the country. Three quarters of Cuba’s land is idle now. Tradition says grow sugar, but hopefully producers don’t go there to lose money and further add to over supply.
Renewable fuels continue to be a target. Converting from a blender credit to a producer credit has become more important with Argentina looking to ship more biodiesel. Theses imports should not receive tax payer dollars for blender credits! Frustration was expressed with EPA’s delays on releasing Renewable Fuels Standard levels.
Appropriations have reached a contentious point. We heard the administration wants more defense funding and to make that happen the rest of the budget needs cuts. Many Senate and House members agree with this.
For clarification, l asked the following question: “The U.S. presently spends 7 times more on defense than any other country and now we need to work towards eight times more than any other country”?
My editorial: “We cannot move our country to a state of neglect under the banner of spreading capitalist market systems throughout the world.”
In the House, the larger party has much dissension on appropriations. Making Section 179 and bonus depreciation permanent has made it through the House, but in the Senate, full-tax reform seems to be a higher priority. This brings speculation that extenders will be all that happens.
One take on Minnesota’s idea of buffer strips is this may be the area where the rural and urban divide from the past election has happened to land.
Thank you for giving your MSGA leadership the opportunity to voice concerns on your behalf this week in Washington, D.C.
Paul Freeman is a soybean farmer from Starbuck. He is Vice President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and is the chair of the Advocacy action team, which is made up of 12 MSGA directors. Paul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.