ASA opposes Grassley effort to cut payments

We would like to respond to the Commentary in the April 15 edition of Delta Farm Press (“Baby the rain must fall — But indoors? In Iowa”) regarding the American Soybean Association's recent recognition of a certain Midwestern senator.

Each year ASA recognizes those who have played a major role in having a positive impact on our industry, and as mentioned, this took place recently in Las Vegas at the Commodity Classic.

All too often we want to look at the bad in someone, without seeing the good. Yes, Sen. Grassley has been a proponent of lowering payment limits, but he has also done good things for the industry, such as helping to improve tax policy and international trade, and he has led the charge on promoting biodiesel.

As for Sen. Grassley's position on payment limits, it is directly opposite to that of the American Soybean Association, and as the payment limit issue is again being raised in Congress, ASA will continue working alongside cotton, rice, and other like-minded commodity organizations to oppose payment limits, just as we have in the past.

At our recent Voting Delegates meeting March 4, ASA reaffirmed its opposition to payment limits. ASA Resolution 2.3.02 states that, “ASA opposes limitations and means testing on federal farm payments and loans made to U.S. farmers. ASA supports provisions that would prevent restricting eligibility for marketing loan gains or loan deficiency payments.”

As in years past, this position was adopted because our members understand the implications of payment limits to farmers of all regions.

While ASA, like other commodity organizations, works positively with members of Congress across political and geographical boundaries, we seldom agree on all issues all the time — even with friends in Congress who champion soybean issues. In cases where we disagree on a specific issue with our friends, ASA has respectfully done so, and we continue to actively support the policies our members believe are important to their future.

The payment limitations issue is one in which ASA has found itself in disagreement with otherwise soybean farmer-friendly members of Congress. While we don't like disagreeing with friends, ASA will continue working to oppose attempts to further restrict payments under farm programs. We believe this is the right thing to do for our members from all regions of the country, and though as you say, “There ain't a lot of cotton and rice in Iowa,” there are plenty of Mr. Grassley's constituents who would be adversely affected by lowering payment limits.

ASA appreciates the work done by Mid-South senators and representatives, as well as those from other states, in trying to thwart attempts to reopen the farm bill. It may become a tough fight, and if it does, ASA will be ready.

But hopefully, it's just an attempt at satisfying some of his Iowa constituents, and will just end up going away.

The best thing we can do is to take advantage of relationships that any of our southern senators have with Sen. Grassley, to help him better understand southern agriculture and hopefully open his eyes on this issue.

With the regional diversification ASA has in its membership, we will stand ready to play our part.

Doug Hartz
ASA Board Member, Arkansas

Marc Curtis
ASA Board Member, Mississippi

Johnny Dodson
ASA Vice President, Tennessee

John Cooper
ASA Board Member, Arkansas

Charles Cannatella
ASA Board Member, Louisiana

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