Soy leaders make contact with legislators

     Iowa soybean farmers serving on the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) Board of Directors called on their elected officials in Washington, D.C., to keep challenges related to agriculture top of mind in 2021 during virtual Capitol Hill visits recently.

     During separate conversations, farmer leaders encouraged the legislators to monitor and engage on U.S.-China trade and other existing markets to ensure continued market access.

     “Over 60 percent of our soybean crop is exported. Besides holding China’s feet to the fire and making them live up to their agreements, we also want to see other markets grow and open up for our product,” said Morey Hill, who also serves as ISA District 5 director.

     Iowa soybean farmers harvested 494 million bushels of soybeans in 2020.

     “Iowa farmers are great at growing soybeans,” Hill said. “We need all the markets we can get to sell them.”

     Soy-based biodiesel is an immediate solution to reducing carbon emissions nationwide, said Dave Walton, ISA Board treasurer and District 6 director.

     “If we would go to a 20 percent biodiesel blend, that’s the equivalent to taking about 18 million cars off the highways of the U.S.,” Walton said. “Just by making that small change we could have a huge impact on the environment.”

     During separate virtual meetings, ISA members encouraged the elected leaders to support policies and voluntary outcomes-based approaches and incentives that include multiple (carbon and water quality) environmental benefits. One example is the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund.

     Past ISA President Wayne Fredericks encouraged the elected officials from Iowa to also consider ways in which those who have been involved with conservation efforts for decades can also participate in any future carbon market.

     He noted that carbon policies which ultimately expand conservation practices are great for the state but thinks about the implications it might have for farmers like him who plan to one day rent out their farmland. If the farm isn’t able to participate in additional markets because of long-term conservation, that excludes future tenants from benefitting from carbon markets. He fears that could mean a future tenant tilling up ground to “add” a conservation practice to reap the benefits of the program.

     Rumblings that estate tax and stepped-up basis levels could be used as an offset in the infrastructure bill doesn’t bode well for Iowa’s farms, which are largely owned by families.

     Past ISA President Brian Kemp from Sibley stressed the importance of preserving current tax levels as farmers hand off operations to the next generation.

     “I’m hearing concerns from my fellow producers,” Kemp said. “It could be the perfect storm if we lose stepped-up basis and capital gains tax rates increase. The two would not be a good outcome for farming and passing along farms.”

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