Following the Senate’s vote to pass the Agricultural Act of 2014 on Feb. 4, the American Soybean Association (ASA) thanked both chambers of Congress and called on President Barack Obama to quickly sign the bill into law.
“We are relieved and pleased to see the farm bill cross the finish line this afternoon,” said ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser. “Today’s vote is the culmination of years of advocacy by ASA and other farm groups on behalf of policies that help our individual crops and our collective industry move forward. We’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in this bill, and the final product represents a true compromise that will benefit many crops, regions and aspects of American agriculture.”
The bill includes a choice between a revenue program that covers both price and yield losses with county and farm level options, and a price support program which allows the optional purchase of insurance coverage under a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The bill also eliminates Direct Payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new challenges from the World Trade Organization.
“From day one, soybean farmers have been invested in passing a bill that provides comprehensive risk management while avoiding potential market distortions,” added Gaesser. “We are confident that this bill accomplishes that, and we are very thankful to Chairwoman Stabenow, Chairman Lucas and Ranking Members Cochran and Peterson for their relentless persistence in driving this process forward and bringing the bill to the best possible conclusion.”
In addition to the risk management framework, the bill also secures several other ASA priorities: agricultural research programs, including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR); export promotion done under the Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access Program (MAP) on which soybeans depend as the nation’s top farm export; and key energy programs, including the Biodiesel Education Program and a strengthened Biobased Markets Program. Additionally, the bill consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, while focusing conservation efforts on working lands.
“Last week’s vote in the House and today’s vote in the Senate — both accomplished in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion — show that this bill is important not only to farmers and rural Americans, but also to our urban and suburban neighbors and business leaders in communities nationwide,” said Gaesser. “We are grateful for the perseverance of the agriculture leadership in Congress, and we call on President Obama to sign the bill into law without delay.”