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Combines power down, policy work revs up

Article cover photo
Farmer and ISA director Dave Walton reviews the association's policy document with ISA Policy Director Carol Balvanz prior to next month's Policy Conference (Photo: Matthew Wilde/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Matthew Wilde, ISA senior writer

The process to select Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) policy delegates and establish the association’s stance on biofuels, conservation and other important issues is underway.

The first of nine District Delegate meetings was held Monday at Gramma’s Kitchen near Walcott. During the meetings, ISA members examine and suggest changes to the 15-page policy document leading up to the ISA Policy Conference in Ankeny on Dec. 14.

ISA Resolution Committee members updated the document prior to the delegate meetings. After the last event on Nov. 30, the committee will do so again prior to the policy conference when delegates — two are chosen at each delegate meeting, along with an alternate — finalize ISA positions for the next year.

ISA Policy Director Carol Balvanz said the important process affects industry competitiveness and gives producers the opportunity to help shape policy that impacts their farms. Policies guide advocacy work at the state and nation’s capitols.

“This is where we find out what’s important to our members,” Balvanz said. “Farmers across the state can chime in on issues important to them and ISA’s state and national policy positions.”

Soybean farmers are encouraged to attend upcoming meetings:

  • District 4, Nov. 20, 11:30 a.m., Bloomers Grill, 1235 Plaza Drive, Carroll
  • District 1, Nov. 20, 5:30 p.m., Pizza Ranch, 528 N. Grand Ave., Spencer
  • District 2, Nov. 21, 5:30 p.m., The Other Place, 200 Highway 18 W., Clear Lake
  • District 7, Nov. 27, 11:30 a.m., Cast Iron Café, 404 Broad Ave., Stanton
  • District 8, Nov. 28, 11:30 a.m., Sports Page, 1802 W 2nd Ave., Indianola
  • District 3, Nov. 30, 5:30 p.m., Pizza Ranch, 125 1st Ave. S.E., Oelwein

District 6 delegates were identified, including ISA member Al Schafbuch of Dysart. The retired farmer said he doesn’t have any objections to policies as written, and he especially likes new language encouraging conservation work.

Schafbuch is a staunch proponent of cover crops to improve water quality and soil health. He works with tenants to ensure cereal rye and other plants cover his land when corn and soybeans do not.

ISA supports increasing the pace and scale of installing conservation practices statewide, along with more planning. Proposed policies support the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and other water quality and soil health initiatives.

“It’s important to get more conservation practices on the ground quicker,” Schafbuch said. “It’s also important landowners ask their tenants to do it.”

ISA Board member Dave Walton of Wilton attended the District 6 meeting. He said the resolutions committee, which he is a member, had two conference calls to reshape the policy document for the benefit of all Iowa soybean farmers.

Language was added, deleted and reworked where necessary.

One example of the policy process in action includes seed company transparency, Walton said. Delegates will decide whether to support policy that requires soybean cultivar pedigree information being made available to farmers.

“We had a long discussion about that,” Walton recalls. “The thought process is if a farmer goes to different seed companies and asks for their best bean in a certain maturity, they could potentially get the same bean and not know it.”

Given recent issues surrounding the national Renewable Fuels Standard and the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposals to weaken it, Balvanz said the energy policies were thoroughly vetted.

Delegates will examine policies supporting federal, state and local education and promotion of biofuels. The National Biodiesel Board and Iowa Biodiesel Board are lobbying Congress to pass a multi-year $1 per gallon biodiesel production tax credit.

“The policy still supports tax incentives and infrastructure,” Balvanz said.

Besides advocating for aggressive funding for market development by the Foreign Agricultural Service to boost exports, a new ISA policy proposal seeks to protect domestic soybean users.

If approved, ISA would back a program in the 2018 Farm Bill to create an adequate Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank as well as a foreign animal disease surveillance.

“Livestock is our most important consumer of grain,” Walton said. “If we lose that, we would be hurting.”

Areas to be discussed at the upcoming Policy Conference include:

  • Biotechnology
  • Energy
  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Federal Farm Policy
  • State of Iowa Farm/Rural Policy
  • Livestock
  • Property Rights and Land Use
  • Research
  • Soybean Production and Marketing Issues
  • Taxes
  • Trade
  • Transportation
  • Value Added and Bio-based Products and Soy Promotion

The daylong state policy conference will be held at the Ankeny Marriott Courtyard Hotel starting at 9 a.m. Discussions about the upcoming farm bill, trade and water quality will occur prior to the policy portion of the agenda.

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For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com. Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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