ISA policy analysis to facilitate 2012 farm bill discussions

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

October 25, 2011 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and Iowa Soybean Association have completed a "U.S. Farm Policy, Agriculture and U.S. Economy" study in preparation of 2012 farm bill discussions.  Report findings will be used by ISA's Farm Bill Task Force to communicate with Congressional leaders about policy recommendations.

"Food security and support for the people who provide it has always been a foundation of U.S. agricultural policy.  Securing farm legislation that provides for our continued international competitiveness and abilities to help feed Illinois consumers and the rest of the world is a priority issue for ISA," says Matt Hughes, soybean farmer from Shirley. and ISA chairman.  "We know sound farm legislation is important for Illinois farmer profitability.  ISA will continue to educate legislators about crucial farm issues as we move through the farm bill process."

The report, which was funded by soybean checkoff dollars and compiled by Informa Economics, focuses primarily on the costs and benefits of supporting the U.S. agriculture industry, an industry that produces significantly more food than can be consumed domestically.  The surplus helps generate exports worth more than $98 billion per year and lowers the net costs for maintaining America’s food security.  The agricultural sector and related domestic industries generate $321 billion in net added value for the economy and 3.4 million jobs.  

"ISA is currently reviewing farm programs that are more effective, efficient and defensible by reallocating baseline funding to improve risk management and complement crop insurance.  Currently, marketing loan rates and target prices are too low to provide effective price and income support," says Mike Marron, soybean farmer from Fithian and ISA market access and advocacy vice chair.  "In recent weeks, proposals for changes in current farm programs have been advanced that address the needs of producers of individual commodities.  The suggestion has also been made that individual program crops should have their own programs. ISA will continue to evaluate options.  We encourage Illinois soybean farmers to offer their input as well."

The report evaluates the impact of select U.S. government policies regarding farm safety net programs.  Economists say little, if any, cost is passed on to consumers through food prices.  Consumers also have no incentive to consume unhealthy foods due to farm policies.

ISA economists analyzed the value of public investments in agriculture, including those investments in trade, research, transportation, environment and the economy.  The report shows U.S. agriculture supports the U.S. economy through exports and domestic manufacturing (generating both domestic demand and supply for domestic food, fiber and energy industries).  The industry also is especially important to rural communities for income and employment.

The total impact of agriculture on the U.S. economy includes revenues of $755 billion and local, state and federal taxes of $71 billion.  Of the 3.4 million jobs supported by the sector, 634,000 are directly in agriculture and 1.88 million are directly supported by the food processing sector.

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers.  The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions, and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs. For more information, visit: www.ilsoy.org