To the Editor:
As 2015 nears a close and we take stock of strides that we have made on behalf of soybean farmers, we have much for which to be thankful. We want to tell each of you how much we value your support of our organization and your dedication to our industry.
For the second straight year, ASA has forged landmark progress on a broad range of issues in a town where progress is distinctly hard to come by. It goes without saying that the political climate in Washington is not one that lends itself to cooperation, compromise or bipartisanship, which makes our success that much more significant. We are a leader in Washington and around the world on farm and trade policy, and in 2015, we leveraged that role for a series of significant victories for ASA members and the larger soy industry.
ASA fought to grant the White House Trade Promotion Authority, which allowed the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to be successfully completed.
ASA advocated for and obtained a final rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard that increases biodiesel volumes to 2 billion gallons by 2017.
ASA worked to enact a Surface Transportation Reauthorization to provide funding certainty for road and bridge construction and maintenance.
ASA drew a line in the sand on crop insurance, and got Congress to rescind the $3 billion cut included in the FY-2016/17 budget agreement
ASA helped to lead the industry's effort to secure House passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.
ASA's cooperation with USDA resulted in the elimination of biotech application backlogs.
ASA identified issues with the structure of the County Agricultural Risk Coverage program and established resolution of the use of administrative counties for the program.
ASA achieved reinstatement of biodiesel tax credit in tax extenders package, permanent reinstatement of higher Section 179 expensing limits, and a five-year extension of Bonus Depreciation provisions in the Tax Extenders package.
ASA led the charge for increased funding for waterways infrastructure and harbor maintenance.
ASA lent critical support in the fight to rescind Country of Origin Labeling in the House and Senate.
ASA helped to secure increased funding for the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI) by $25 million.
ASA's work helped conclude a TPP agreement with increased market access for soy and livestock products, enhanced sanitary and phytosanitary provisions, biotech and low-level presence procedures.
ASA continued our cooperation with USSEC on submission of Soy Sustainability Protocol to meet the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED) requirements and continuing emphasis on RED as a priority in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.
ASA led industry efforts as coordinator of the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, and as coordinator of the international agricultural development coalition on legislative proposals.
There is no downplaying the combined impact and significance of these victories for our industry. They will help us in the coming years to farm more profitably, which is the purpose of our association, after all.
In the coming year, we will implement ASA's bold new strategic plan. The plan will help us sustain the success we've seen in 2014 and 2015, and accomplish more in the years that follow. We will continue to enhance our working relationships with state affiliates, and our new structure will help us focus on those areas that are critical to our mission.
Thank you, as always, for your dedication to our industry, and Happy New Year.
Richard Wilkins, President
Wade Cowan, Chairman