Ankeny — September 23, 2011
The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) released its Farm Bill Priorities paper on Tuesday, making the point, “U.S. agriculture in general is the brightest spot in the economy. U.S. farmers now export 40 million acres of whole soybeans and even more in meal, oil and livestock products as a result of public and private investments in research that has led to increased yields, trade development programs and an improved transportation system.”
According to ISA President, Dean Coleman of Humboldt, “These improvements over the last 50 years have come about because of government and private investments in agriculture. And while competing nations such as Brazil are working to emulate our production and distribution systems, current Farm Bill discussions now going on in Washington seem to be only focusing on what must be cut rather than recognizing the value of supporting a strong U.S. production agriculture system.”
The ISA Farm Bill Study Team, which includes President Coleman, President-elect Mark Jackson of Rose Hill, Ron Heck of Perry, Ray Gaesser of Corning and Randy Van Kooten of Lynnville, worked on the report, asking lawmakers to take another look at those programs outside of direct subsidies which have built strong ag markets and allowed USDA to reduce government spending on agriculture.
Agricultural trade generates 8,000 jobs for every $1 billion in exports. Returns from agricultural research have a benefit/cost ratio of 20 to 1. Renewable energy has created well over 400,000 jobs and lowered the price of fuel while increasing availability of lower cost animal feed. Conservation programs have cut soil erosion in half and improved water quality while increasing habitat for wildlife. Transportation and infrastructure investments give U.S. soy exports a $70 to $90 per ton advantage over Brazil in landed transportation costs.
“No one is talking about the reasons why agriculture is doing well,” explains Ron Heck, soybean farmer from Perry. “The investments in trade expansion, ag research, renewable energy, conservation and transportation systems have put U.S. farmers in the current favorable market situation. We’re asking that those programs be continued, along with a meaningful safety net program.”