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States Launch Effort To Support ASAs 1 Billion Purchase Donation Program

first_imgA group of 12 north central state soybean affiliates of the American Soybean Association (ASA) have launched a major effort to encourage Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to approve ASA’s request for a $1 billion concessional sales and donation program to utilize surplus U.S. soybeans. State associations in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri are working together to conduct a major postcard drive at various events across the region that include state fairs, farm shows and field days.Iowa Soybean Association Executive Director Kirk Leeds said, “This project involves the efforts of both soybean associations using membership dollars, as well as a partnership with checkoff dollars. The association will be working with Secretary Glickman to get approval of the $1 billion plan, while at the same time, checkoff dollars and checkoff organizations will be working with the PVOs in order to develop delivery plans to make sure we deliver the maximum quantities of soybeans.”There are two goals of the $1 billion dollar purchase plan. The short-term goal is to provide price relief to U.S. soybean growers while helping to feed a hungry world. The long-term goal is to work with private volunteer organizations (PVOs) to introduce soy and soy products into markets where soy has not traditionally been available, thus creating new opportunities to use soybeans.Last February and March ASA formulated its Farm Income & Market Demand Initiatives to help improve soybean prices. These initiatives included a purchase and donation program that the Secretary could implement without congressional action. Since soybean prices are below the loan rate, any costs would be partially offset by increased prices, which would result in lower loan deficiency payment cost outlays. ASA believes U.S. farmers would prefer to receive higher prices rather than larger LDPs.ASA Chairman Mike Yost said, “We presented this plan in March at our Board meeting in Washington, D.C., to the Secretary and his staff. It was well received. We’ve been there several times since, refining it as we’ve moved along. We’ve worked with the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) to identify markets where the various products could be used without displacing U.S. commercial sales. That’s a very important component of this program–we do not want to displace U.S. commercial sales.””I particularly like the long-term implications of this program because this association has worked hard to get market access and market share, and clearly, some of these products will be introduced to parts of the world that have never seen a soybean before. I think that will give us greater market access and the potential to build in the future,” Yost said.ASA Executive Director for International Marketing Jim Guinn said, “International markets for soybeans are very, very important. Anything we can do to move product into the world market is to the benefit of U.S. soybean producers. We think that some of the markets in which we’ll be able to work with the PVOs will provide us some significant opportunities for the future.”Guinn cited countries in Southern and Saharan Africa as examples where there has been little or no soybean promotion activities. Indonesia and India, and some countries in Latin America and in the Caribbean, where ASA can gain valuable industry contacts leading to future trading partners, also may provide opportunities for humanitarian assistance.ASA’s plan calls for soy protein, either textured soy protein, soy isolates or soy concentrate, to be included in the assistance program. These soy products can be incorporated into indigenous foods in many countries around the world, not to change the eating habits of people, but to get more high quality protein into their diet, particularly for children so they can develop mentally and physically.When ASA met with Secretary Glickman in March, the Association presented a 21-page detailed list of prospective markets that included about 3.7 million tons of soy products worth approximately $1 billion. Since that time, ASA has continued to develop the program by identifying opportunities to make the plan workable for USDA.In a rather unique meeting this summer, ASA brought together for the first time representatives of the private voluntary organizations with representatives from soybean processors and exporters to go over ASA’s target list. Since that meeting, ASA and the PVOs have been working to develop a strategy with the Department of Agriculture to move as much soy product as soon as possible. ASA also has been meeting with the export credits people at USDA, who are working on programming government-to-government assistance of large donations of soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil later this year.One of the procedural requirements now is that Secretary Glickman has to designate soybeans as being in surplus. While everyone agrees there is a surplus of soybeans, with a projected carryover exceeding 800 million bushels, it will be necessary for the Secretary to make an official designation, which will probably take place in September.Executive Director of the Coalition for Food Aid Ellen Levinson said, “The way that the private voluntary organizations look at this initiative is a very positive way to marry the expertise of the American Soybean Association and its affiliates with the capabilities that PVOs have in a hundred-plus countries around the world that are food-deficit.”Levinson said that these food-deficit countries are the primary target countries for much of the soybean initiative because they cannot afford to buy enough food to meet their needs. Other types of countries that are also good targets are countries such as the former Soviet Republic and some Latin American countries, which still have pockets of poverty that greatly need assistance.The PVOs represented by the Coalition for Food Aid include some religious groups, such as Catholic Relief Services, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, and the International World Vision, and other charitable and developmental organizations, such as C.A.R.E., Save the Children, and Afri-Care. The United Soybean Board has committed $125,000 of soybean producer checkoff funding to assist PVOs in the preparation of concept papers and proposals to program soy and soy products into exports.”For these types of programs, we really need the ASA experience and expertise, and their affiliates’ expertise, to work with the PVOs to know how to properly introduce these products,” Levinson said. “I see a lot of positive outcome. Having worked on this for many years, I really appreciate that ASA has the foresight to get a lot of commodities overseas and to try to target this assistance in a way that will have long term market development and human growth benefits.”last_img read more