Soybean farmers act on conservation, taxes during annual ISA policy meeting

Farmers serving as Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) delegates largely reaffirmed existing policy while tweaking language pertaining to cover crops, pollinator habitat and taxation.

The action came during today’s ISA’s annual meeting and policy conference held in Ankeny.

Delegates called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service to establish and enforce a seed inspection and certification policy. It’s needed, they agreed, to ensure that seed used for cost share habitat and cover crop programs is free from noxious weeds.

“The policy reinforces the importance of applying conservation practices that first do no harm,” said Roger Wolf, director of ISA’s Environmental Programs and Services. “Conversation needs to work in our production system – we don’t need a reason for farmers not to use conservation.

“Soybean farmers are mindful of unintended consequences and would anticipate that federal agencies would agree with that,” he said.

As Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts expire, delegates agreed that future CRP and pollinator agreements should focus only on sensitive lands. They voiced support for current federal policy allowing haying and grazing of CRP ground in exchange for a reduced rental payment.

ISA farmer delegates also urged Congress and the Iowa Legislature to permanently match, or couple, depreciation schedules to shorten and simplify tax returns.

In other action, delegates approved:

  • Support for requiring that all inspectors for state and federal farm and livestock issues be required to give at least one-day prior notice and follow all farm biosecurity procedures.
  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission release daily trading reports to provide transparency so producers are able to better see changes in market trends.
  • Palmer amaranth be added to Iowa’s noxious weed list as a primary noxious weed.
  • National Renewable Fuels Standard includes 4.75 billion gallons for advanced biofuels in 2017 and 2.5 billion gallons of biomass-based biodiesel in the renewable volume obligation of the RFS for 2018.
  • Farmer involvement in writing of rules for the voluntary biotechnology food labeling program as passed by Congress in 2016.

Delegates reiterated support for the voluntary labeling of food grown or including genetically modified ingredients as passed earlier this year by Congress. They also encouraged farmer involvement in the writing of rules for the voluntary labeling program.

The delegate session was void of contention or lengthy deliberations. That wasn’t surprising to ISA President Rolland Schnell of Newton.

“Soybean farmers are diligent and do considerable work in advance of the meeting,” he said. “The process starts with farmers gathering in small groups around the state and having discussions. They make sure existing policy is updated and add language that keeps our resolutions current.

“We have a sound policy document that will serve the industry well as we move into a new legislative session at the state level and the start of farm bill discussions at the federal level.”

The Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference reported this week that the state’s current fiscal year budget is showing a $140 million deficit resulting from sluggish tax receipts brought on by a slumping farm economy.

ISA delegates were reminded that a tight state budget will require legislators to prioritize budgets and funding requests.

“Everything that happens in the legislature this year will take place with the state budget constraints as the backdrop,” Schnell said.

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