Soy Growers call on Congress, White House to unite on trade, infrastructure, rural development improvements

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Farm Forum

WASHINGTON — The American Soybean Association (ASA) issued its annual response to the president’s State of the Union address, and called on the Obama Administration and members of the House and the Senate to work together on issues vital to soybean farmers, including trade, infrastructure and rural development.

“Congress and the administration are at a crossroads,” said ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan. “They have an opportunity to come together on issues that can drive real progress for soybean farmers across the country. In his address tonight, President Obama focused on several projects that we at ASA believe are essential to our success moving forward.”

“First, Trade Promotion Authority is long overdue,” said Cowan. “The United States is currently involved in the negotiation of major trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which have the potential help to protect and expand agriculture market access in the Pacific Rim and Europe. Soybeans are the nation’s leading farm export, and it’s critically important that Congress pass and the President sign a completed TPA package that will lay the groundwork for robust and comprehensive trade agreements.”

“We cannot improve trade without modern ports,” continued Cowan, “and we are pleased to see the president discuss our nation’s infrastructure needs as well. We depend on ports in nearly every coastal region of the United States to carry our soybeans abroad, and we must continually invest in this supply chain to stay ahead of our foreign competitors.”

Cowan also noted ASA’s enthusiasm with the administration’s work towards the normalization of relations with Cuba. “It is encouraging to see that steps are being taken to normalize relations with Cuba, though there is more work to be done,” he said. “Congress must work to fully end the long-standing embargo and allow open trade and investment that will enhance Cuban citizens’ access to affordable food and provide the U.S. farmers with expanded market access opportunities.”

Finally, Cowan welcomed President Obama’s commitment to broadband internet connectivity, and in particular rural broadband internet access. “The president’s support for bringing broadband and wireless services to ‘every community’ including those in rural America is extremely important for our farmers, especially in light of the precision agriculture tools we use in our operations,” Cowan added. “As we become ever more connected, this effort will ensure rural communities share in the opportunities afforded by modern broadband access, and their collective progress will continue.”

“In the eyes of America’s soybean farmers, these are no-brainers,” concluded Cowan. “These are bi-partisan issues around which we believe all parties can coalesce and find consensus. We are committed to working with them to see these plans to fruition, and we hope they will echo that commitment.”