Soybean producers gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA). More than 130 producers from soybean production areas across the United States participated in this annual process that guides the ASA as it pursues future initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability. The voting delegates session was held in conjunction with the ninth annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show, which set a new attendance record this year with more than 4,100 participants.”The delegates called for the inclusion of fortified soymilk as a reimbursable option in Federal child nutrition programs, including the national school lunch and breakfast programs,” said ASA President Ron Heck, a soybean producer from Perry, Iowa. “Schools should have the opportunity to offer soymilk to children who do not drink cow’s milk.”Other significant additions and modifications included support for all diesel fuel used in the United States to be a biodiesel fuel or a biodiesel blend, and continuing support for a biodiesel tax incentive. Delegates also stressed the importance of soy protein in the fight again HIV/AIDS, voiced support for critical trade and transportation initiatives, strongly urged caution to prevent and mitigate the effects of soybean rust disease, and set forth priorities for improved soybean compositional traits.BiodieselASA supports establishment of a national energy policy that promotes renewable domestic fuel resources to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. ASA supports the development of state and federal legislation, including a tax incentive, that promotes biodiesel, biodiesel blends, and biodiesel infrastructure, and now strongly recommends that all diesel-powered vehicles use a biodiesel fuel or biodiesel blend.ASA will encourage the use of biodiesel as a fuel additive to improve the lubricity of low sulfur diesel fuel for on and off road applications, including railroads.”ASA encourages fuel stations across the nation to start carrying biodiesel at the pumps and to encourage all fuel suppliers to handle biodiesel to enhance our nation’s energy security, improve our air quality and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Heck said. “ASA also supports legislation requiring producers and distributors of biodiesel products and additives to clearly label the minimum percentage of biodiesel contained by volume in fuels and commercially marketed products.”Food Aid and the Role of Soy in Confronting AIDSASA is committed to work on allocating funds for government food procurement to include soy protein in the diets of people receiving antiretroviral therapy, orphans and HIV/AIDS affected households facing food insecurity. ASA also urges the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to reduce funding for the International Feeding Initiative below $100 million, and to seek additional funding from U.S. and other major industrial democracies.ASA is committed to developing relationships with commercial entities in the private sector to address HIV/AIDS and under-nutrition. ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program will work with U.S. and developing world-based companies to use soy to supplement local foods; WISHH will reach out to both food processing companies and manufacturing companies with HIV/AIDS programs for their employees abroad. ASA will develop a strong relationship with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and will be instrumental in developing nutrition-targeted objectives of the HIV/AIDS taskforce of CCA.”ASA strongly recommends that judicious use of soybeans or soy meal in food aid programs should not be precluded automatically by rigid stocks-to-use ratios,” Heck said. “A minimum level of soybeans and meal should always be available for humanitarian assistance. Policymakers should realize the importance of nutrition in the fight again HIV/AIDS, and ASA encourages the Administration to direct HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention resources towards feeding programs.”TransportationASA encourages strong support for Alternative 6 of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Navigation Study of the Upper Mississippi River Basin in a phased approach as part of a “program authority” that allows construction as quickly as funds can be made available by Congress. Nearly 75 percent of U.S. soybean exports are shipped down the Mississippi River.ASA delegates also expressed support for further development of West Coast shipping of Midwest soybeans and soy products.TradeASA supports comprehensive World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations as the best means to increase worldwide incomes and reduce trade barriers to soy and livestock products. ASA believes that bilateral or regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations should be focused toward those countries that represent significant commercial markets for U.S. soybeans and products, livestock products, and agricultural exports in general.ASA also will insist on strict enforcement of the European Union’s (EU)commitments under the Blair House Agreement (BHA), which sets a WTO-bound limit on subsidized oilseed production in the EU. The U.S. has the reasonable expectation that the subsidized area planted to oilseeds will not exceed the BHA level of about 12 million acres plus the BHA-consistent area of new EU members, and that oilseed production on set aside for industrial use will not exceed 1 million tons on a soybean meal equivalent basis.”As the EU implements changes in its agricultural policies and implements new ‘energy crop’ payments to encourage the growing of energy crops, including oilseeds, the U.S. Government must insist that the EU be in compliance with its obligations,” Heck said.Soybean RustASA strongly urges USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to take all appropriate precautions to protect domestic soybean production from the introduction of Asian soybean rust disease. Importation of whole soybeans, soybean meal, and soybean seed from countries with soybean rust infestation must be subject to science-based regulations to prevent the introduction of rust. All seed from rust-infected areas should be treated with fungicide or fumigated before being imported to the U.S.ASA strongly urges increased Federal funding for soybean rust research, including mapping the soybean genome and identifying rust resistance and tolerance traits that can be introduced in soybean varieties. Additional funding should be provided for expanded facilities and for the rust research programs already underway.ASA strongly urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete its review and approve Section 18 emergency use requests for fungicides that are effective in treating soybean rust. ASA encourages crop protection companies and the Federal Government to facilitate the availability of approved products in the event of need.ASA strongly urges the Administration to develop and implement a national strategy to prevent and mitigate the impact of infestation of domestic soybean production by soybean rust, including consideration of the establishment of a government-entity task force on containing contagious plant disease and pests. ASA also supports Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-9) of January 30, 2004, that establishes a national policy to defend U.S. agriculture and food systems against terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. ASA also recommends that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture become a member of the President’s National Security Council.Soybean Research & QUALISOYASA supports a coordinated effort of state and national soybean organizations to set priorities and coordinate all federally-funded soybean research projects. Among the factors to be considered in setting priorities are acreage, disease and compositional traits. ASA supports the Better Bean Initiative, also known as QUALISOY, to continue to improve commodity soybeans through improved compositional traits. ASA will coordinate and manage all legislative activities with regard to QUALISOY.ASA supports the efforts of coordinated research and funding of soybean genomics, including the efforts of the U.S. Legume Crops Genomics Initiative (USLCGI), and the Initiative’s highest research priority for development of cross-species markers that can be used across multiple legume species.