This week the American Soybean Association (ASA) and its Board of Directors will hold their annual meeting in Washington D.C. This year’s meeting coincides with the introduction of Senate bill S.2609, the national standard for labeling of bioengineered food set forth by the Agriculture Committee Chairman, Senator Pat Roberts. The organization will be focusing much of its efforts on this measure, arranging for farmers to meet with senators this week to urge its passage.
“The Roberts bill is the top priority of soybean farmers this spring and the closer we get to the July 1 implementation of the Vermont labeling law, the more important it becomes for Congress to step up and pass a national standard to avoid the convoluted and expensive patchwork that state-by-state solutions present,” said ASA President Richard Wilkins, a farmer from Greenwood, Del. “The message we’re taking to the Hill this week is one of urgency. Research shows that the Vermont law alone will add an additional $1,050 to the average American family’s grocery bill, which is reason enough to take action, but add to that the unwarranted stigmatization of safe and sustainable modern agricultural practices, and it’s clear that the time for the Senate to act is now.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is also high on the priority list this spring.
“We recognize that with an election in November, we’re facing a difficult political climate in Washington, but that doesn’t subtract from the critical importance of moving the TPP forward in 2016.” he said. “The TPP means jobs, it means increased exports and it means growing demand in 11 extremely important developed and emerging economies for the meat proteins that demand our soybean meal to produce. It’s too important to let Congress get to it when it’s convenient; we have to press now.”
Other issues for the year include funding for Energy & Water Appropriations bill for operations, maintenance and upgrades to inland waterways infrastructure as well as harbors and ports, re-introduction of bills to extend and reform the biodiesel tax credit and normalization of relations with Cuba.