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ISA farmer webinar highlights continuity during COVID-19

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By Katie James, ISA public relations manager

During times of uncertainty, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) rallies the experts and strives to get information to soybean farmers. In a first-of-its-kind webinar, ISA and national soybean partners highlighted what farmers need to know as they navigate the impacts of COVID-19.

Over 80 participants gathered virtually on Tuesday to hear from ISA staff including CEO Kirk Leeds, Director of Market Development Grant Kimberley, Director of Public Affairs Michael Dolch and Sr. Director of Research Ed Anderson. Also serving as panelists were American Soybean Association (ASA) Executive Director of Government Affairs Christy Seyfert and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) CEO Jim Sutter.

With safety the priority, other ISA areas of focus remain strong, such as policy. Farmers were reassured no policy priorities have changed during this time, but some state and federal deadlines and regulations have shifted to better accommodate movement of agricultural products.

“We saw some regulatory relief with Governor Reynolds’ state Public Health Emergency declaration that has been extended to mid-April,” said ISA’s Dolch. “It grants an hours-of-service and a weight-limit extension to keep ag transportation on the move.”

An additional extension includes pushing the deadline for pesticide applicator renewals into December.

ASA’s Seyfert assured farmers that although work looks a bit different during these times, nobody is sitting idle.

“Two weeks ago, ASA led a letter to President Trump asking him to be mindful of agricultural movement,” said Seyfert. “It was well-received and we were pleased to see food and agriculture designated as essential components.”

Most recently, ASA worked to ensure biodiesel was included in those decisions, as ASA continues to prioritize biofuels, trade and infrastructure. Biodiesel also remains a focus of ISA’s Kimberley and Dolch, as they explained the B-11 tax differential is set to expire at the end of June.

Injecting a strong note of positivity into the discussion, USSEC CEO Jim Sutter told participants he is optimistic for the future of Chinese trade, even amid the global pandemic. the coronavirus.

“We saw progress with the implementation of the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal,” said Sutter. “I think it’s reasonable to believe the purchases they agreed to will happen later into the year instead of now.”

Sutter explained that China would have to import ample amount of soybeans to achieve the agreed upon 40-billion dollars’ worth of agricultural purchases spelled out in the agreement.

“Given we have the soybean supply available, I think we will see soybean exports to China extend beyond the pre-tariff levels,” said Sutter.

In addition to policy and trade, a conversation about agriculture in late March would not be complete without discussing spring planting.

Ed Anderson assured farmers that the pandemic does not take away ISA’s research efforts to support and enable farmers this growing season and beyond.

“We’re looking at genetics, pests, and improving and exercising everything we have to assist farmers with agronomic and cropping system improvements as well as data and sound research to provide recommendations and enhancements for all farming operations,” Anderson said.

He echoed the theme of the discussion: although business might look different, it’s still business as usual.

Watch the recording.
Watch the recording.

Contact Katie James at kjames@iasoybeans.com.

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.