Federal Appropriations Bills Bring Positives, Negatives for Soybean FarmersThu, 14 Apr 2016 15:58:52 CDT
With the release of several draft appropriations bills on Tuesday, including the FY17 Agricultural and Energy & Water Appropriations language, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has analyzed both for the potential impacts on soybean operations across the country.
“Predictably, there are positives and negatives in each of these drafts,” said ASA President Richard Wilkins, who farms in Greenwood, Del. “While the Energy & Water Appropriations bill looks to be very positive with regard to soybean farmer priorities, there are some issues we’re concerned about in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that we hope will be ironed out in the long run.”
Among the positives in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill is a prohibition on the use of funds to implement the controversial Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States. Additionally, the bill boosts funding for waterways infrastructure to record levels, including $6.1 billion in overall funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Included in that overall number is $1.946 billion for the USACE Construction account, $3.157 billion for the Operations and Maintenance account, and $1.263 billion for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
“The Energy & Water Approps bill is very positive for soybean farmers,” Wilkins said. “It prohibits the use of funds to implement the Clean Water Rule, while at the same time investing in the infrastructure improvement we need to get our products reliably to our customers.”
In the agricultural appropriations bill, ASA is concerned with a litany of cuts to conservation programs authorized in the farm bill, including $300 million from the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), $113 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and a reduction in the funds available for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to $46.5 million. The association maintains a policy position opposing cuts to any farm bill program, as well as opposing the opening of the farm bill to restructure such programs.
“The cuts to CSP, EQIP and RCPP are not conducive to our farmers’ conservation goals on their farms,” Wilkins said. “We count on these programs to help us hit our conservation benchmarks, and we won’t support the significant cuts contained in the House proposal.”
Wilkins did point to a significant positive in the agriculture language, citing the $3 million set aside for outreach and education on agricultural biotechnology as a step in the right direction.
“We’ve heard the leading minds in food safety and agricultural bioscience attest time and time again to the safety of biotechnology, but we’ve not done a good enough job at communicating the proven safety and the benefits of this technology to consumers,” Wilkins said. “This investment is a great initial commitment to that effort, and we applaud the House for including it.”
Source: American Soybean Association
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