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As Vice President Pence Visits Iowa, Soybean Farmers Cite Concerns, Priorities

Article cover photo
Tim Bardole and other Iowa farmers were happy that Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Sonny Perdue traveled to Iowa today to discuss supply chain issues. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Statement courtesy of Iowa Soybean Association President Tim Bardole of Rippey, Iowa

“Iowa soybean farmers welcome Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to Iowa to discuss critical supply chain issues pertaining to America’s food supply. While we will not be able to personally greet them during today’s roundtable, we appreciate their interest in ag economic issues and the challenges facing Iowa, one of the world’s most prolific food producers.

“As we have experienced, adequate supplies of food where and when we need and want them cannot be taken for granted. Empty shelves and the abrupt disappearance of some menu options made from pork, beef, chicken and other ingredients are a stark reminder that food doesn’t magically appear in the store, at the curb side for pick up or at our front door. Quality, abundant and affordable protein starts with farmers and relies upon a network of dedicated professionals to harvest, process and prepare it. We salute our dedicated colleagues during these unprecedented times.

“Iowa farmers are business owners and operators. We are feeling the economic sting as a result of the pandemic and continued lack of U.S. commodity purchases by China. We must ensure full implementation of the Phase One Agreement and other trade deals negotiated by the administration. If China continues to sidestep their pledge to purchase a significant volume of U.S. ag products, additional Market Facilitation Payments will require consideration and likely be necessary to enable farm families to weather the financial storm.

“To facilitate increased trade, the USDA must get creative with Commodity Credit Corporation authorities to provide additional procurement or purchase opportunities. One option is to consider an export enhancement (purchasing) program to ensure grain is moving and American farmers are competitive in the global marketplace.

“The oil lobby’s repeated attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard must end. This successful renewable energy program is essential for our country and generates critical demand for soybeans. We urge the USDA to consider including biodiesel in any future procurement program to help offset feedstock costs and jumpstart biofuels production. The biodiesel industry came into the COVID-19 situation already under significant economic stress, which has only been amplified by trade issues with China, historic floods and hostile regulators. We appreciate recent USDA biodiesel infrastructure announcement but hope future renewable fuels support includes a larger share for biodiesel, which received only $14 million of $100 million.

“Farmers need immediate financial assistance to stay in business. We eagerly await CFAP details from USDA and OMB. Knowing the resources will not be enough to meet the significant and growing needs of agriculture, we are asking Congress for additional USDA resources/flexibilities for future farmer relief.

“As a pig farmer, I’m also personally experiencing the financial devastation occurring in the livestock industry. For Iowa soybean farmers, livestock production is the No. 1 market for what we grow. We must ensure adequate support for livestock and poultry producers and their families and the consumers who depend on their productivity.”

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjames@iasoybeans.com. © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.