Iowa Soybean Association Meets with Quad City Times Editorial Board04/16/2019 | Biodiesel, Policy, Soybean News, Ag Awareness
By Katie Johnson
Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Lindsay Greiner of Keota with ISA District 6 Director Dave Walton of Wilton traveled to Davenport last week for an editorial board visit with the Quad City Times. They were joined by Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) Executive Director Mike Steenhoek. They met with three editorial board members and engaged with them on topics pertaining to trade, the farm economy, infrastructure and biodiesel.
Greiner began the discussion by detailing his recent trip to China and urged the need to rescind tariffs and for U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement ratification. The editorial board was especially curious on tensions with China when it comes to intellectual property. Greiner and Walton were asked if they believed a deal made with no change to intellectual property would still be a deal. Walton said no and mentioned the importance of seed genetics when it comes to intellectual property theft.
The conversation naturally turned to the farm economy where the editorial board expressed concern for farmers’ financial situations. The ISA farmer leaders both said 2019 is an ugly year, and without the security of trade, 2020 is set to be worse. When asked what measures they have taken to reduce costs, they talked about reducing or even eliminating fertilizer, not purchasing new or replacing equipment and reducing other inputs on the field. Greiner said he has reduced his costs by about $50/acre. Steenhoek reminded the editorial board that farming isn’t like owning a cupcake shop, where the owner could adjust overnight to keep up with market signals. He asserted that farmers need long-term predictability just like infrastructure.
As the discussion moved to the restoration and investment of Iowa’s locks and dams, bridges and roadways, Steenhoek confirmed the same concept: investment in railroads and barges need the certainty of long-term trade relationships. Steenhoek distributed data on the impacts of dredging a portion of the upper Mississippi River as it relates to improved basis prices for farmers. The editorial board was especially interested in the projects STC is focusing on and appeared supportive of efforts to improve this important element in agriculture.
The editorial board then opened the discussion up for comments regarding biodiesel and the recent op-eds the Quad City Times has received disparaging biofuels. Greiner told the board that ISA and biodiesel stakeholders choose to take the high road and will continue to focus efforts on policy directly related to the success of the biodiesel industry. Commenting on how biodiesel is a win-win for everybody involved, Walton provided a strong background on how the industry was created and how it has helped farmers, rural Iowa and the environment. The editorial board was quite engaged in this discussion and seemed to understand the positions Greiner and Walton brought to the table. The board reminded the farmers that opinion pages are a forum for debate and Walton thanked the board for immediately publishing a counter op-ed he had submitted last month. The board seemed appreciative of the wealth of knowledge they had to share about the mechanics of biodiesel and the science behind how the product is made and how it is burned.
Greiner and Walton both agreed the best response to an attack on biofuels is more education. Walton discussed his work with both the Iowa Biodiesel Board and the National Biodiesel Board and recent successes working with policymakers such as Rep. Finkenauer and Congressman Loebsack. The editorial board felt that President Trump and the Administration’s previous voice of support for biofuels was more centered around ethanol and the year-round use of E15. Walton agreed, and said he wished for more leadership from the President when it came to biodiesel and small refinery waivers.
Visits like these remain important in establishing and strengthening ties to publications who are vocal about agriculture. Positioning ISA as a leader on issues impacting Iowa ensures accurate information is shared. Greiner, in addition to other ISA farmer leaders, will attend additional editorial board visits with newspapers around the state later this year.
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