ST. LOUIS (February 12, 2013) — As President Barack Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term Tuesday evening, the American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes the president’s comments on multiple ASA priorities. ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., releases the following statement on tonight’s address:
“As we move into the second month of the 113th Congress and of the Obama Administration, ASA welcomes President Obama’s comments this evening on issues vital to soybean farmers, the larger agriculture community and our nation as a whole.
“First on the president’s agenda tonight was our nation’s fiscal situation, and the need to address our collective budgetary responsibilities. Soybean farmers remain committed, along with the entire agriculture community, to bearing our share of the budgetary responsibility, provided that cuts to agricultural programs are proportionate to those programs benefiting other industries. We remind the president that the agriculture community came together to propose more than $23 billion in voluntary cuts within a comprehensive, five-year farm bill, which was passed by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees as well as the full Senate, yet did not see an opportunity for a vote on the House floor.
“The president touched multiple times on our nation’s reduced dependence on foreign oil, mentioning specifically that Americans are purchasing less of it today than at any point in the last 20 years. The success of renewable fuels like soy-based biodiesel is part and parcel to that success. More than half of all biodiesel produced in the U.S.—more than a billion gallons worth last year alone—is produced from soy grown by American farmers in communities nationwide.
“Fuel, however, is only one part of the formula that keeps our country moving, and the president’s proposed improvements in infrastructure are vital to soybean farmers who grow our nation’s largest and most valuable agricultural export commodity. As part of his “Fix-It-First” program, President Obama proposed much-needed repairs to our transportation infrastructure, including the ports we need to ship our soybeans to our trading partners around the world. We would encourage the president to remember, however, that our waterways infrastructure including our locks and dams on the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri Rivers are also in critical need of repairs, while the channel depth issues on the Mississippi River continue to threaten that waterway’s continued viability as a commercial route. These waterways serve as a vital artery for the movement of soybeans and other essential commodities, and investments in maintaining that infrastructure have immediate benefits in creating jobs and restoring market confidence, and the long-term benefits of maintaining and improving global economic competitiveness of soybeans and other major U.S. commodities and products.
“Also encouraging are President Obama’s comments on growing our valuable trade relationships. ASA applauds the president’s commitment to completing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This is a key priority for American soybean farmers, who ship their product to many of the countries in the TPP. Additionally, ASA welcomes the president’s announcement of talks on a potential trade agreement with the European Union. We hope that these talks will take into account the unique nature of agricultural trade and provide solutions to many of the barriers that soybeans and other American agricultural exports face in the European marketplace.
“While the president did mention many priorities for soybean farmers, we believe that an opportunity was missed to recognize the contributions of the agriculture community to so many of these issues. Our farmers contribute to innovative renewable energy solutions, expanded and robust trade partnership and more than 23 million jobs in a time when they are sorely needed.
“Finally, President Obama touched on the need to continue fostering a national culture in which hard work is rewarded. Our industry is that effort personified. Every day, soybean farmers showcase that hard work in everything they do. They reflect our nation’s shared values of dedication, innovation, resolve and commitment, and they set an example not only for their families and those in their communities, but for all Americans.”
ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through voluntary farmer membership by farmers in 30 states where soybeans are grown.