Last week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) held its summer meeting in Washington, D.C. We had the privilege to visit our representatives from our state to discuss some of the pertinent issues that will be on the radar.
A few of our major priorities were trade expansion through Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, the repeal of the County of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirement and improving regulatory approvals for new biotech traits by China and the EU. We also discussed the removal of trade barriers to Cuba. To have our flag raised at the Cuban embassy is truly encouraging and exciting, and if it opens new markets for our soybeans, even better.
The Water of the United States (WOTUS) was also another issue that we discussed with our congressional offices, as the determination is unclear and subject to interpretation. Congressional efforts are needed to abolish the rule.
We discussed GMO labeling with our representatives and stressed the importance of passing a national volunteer labeling bill to eliminate the ability for different states to pass their own. While everyone has the right to know where their food comes from, there also needs to be consistency in the information provided to consumers. And as of Thursday, it appears members of the House heard our call, passing H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The work isn’t done, but it is always rewarding to see successes from our advocacy work.
As far as tax issues, we need to encourage the biodiesel tax incentive, but change it to a production credit. A permanent extension of the Section 179 expense cap of $500k for equipment is needed so farmers can plan and afford large purchases.
While we were visiting with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the highway re-authorization bill was being discussed on the floor. We also expressed our concern of not reopening the farm and crop insurance bill. It was fun to visit with Congressman Tim Walz, as he refers to crop insurance as grocery insurance. I like the way he thinks.
These were just a few of the highlights from last week. D.C. is always a busy place, but I’ve found that speaking to legislators on issues that affect farming is valuable and rewarding.
Theresia Gillie is a soybean farmer from Hallock, Minn. She is Vice President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and is chair of the Advocacy action team. Theresia can be reached at email@example.com.