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January's issue of the Iowa Soybean Association's (ISA) Iowa Soybean Review magazine is set to hit mailboxes this week. On the cover readers will see Randy Francois, who farms near Manchester in northeast Iowa. He says he's evaluated the successes and obstacles from 2019 and is ready to take on the new decade with optimism. Fellow farmers and industry leaders weigh in on the effort and know-how it takes to make farming work in tight financial times.

Also in this issue, the ISA research team debuts its new name — ISA Research Center for Farming and Innovation — and outlines how the new structure will help them deliver more value to Iowa soybean farmers, like through the Interactive Summary of On-Farm Strip Trials (ISOFAST) tool recently launched by ISA. Also highlighted are the upcoming Research & Results Forums in February, where farmers can add greater productivity, profitability and sustainability to their list and devise plans to accomplish new goals in 2020.

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More than 100,000 food and health-minded Iowans discovered the latest issue of Fresh Pickings magazine in their mailboxes and email inboxes this week. Now in its fourth issue, the Iowa Food & Family Project’s (Iowa FFP) seasonal print publication makes farm life accessible, interesting and relevant to consumers statewide through personable editorial, bite-sized facts and stunning photography. 

The latest issue introduces readers to the agricultural roots of Cedar Rapids, dives into cover crop conservation with Ray Gaesser, showcases new ideas for incorporating Iowa-raised proteins into weekly menu plans and encourages a discerning look at food recalls.

Fresh Pickings magazine, published quarterly, is available at no cost at Iowa-based Earl May Nursery & Garden Centers and MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center locations and will be distributed at Iowa FFP events (while supplies last). Readers can also view the publication online and request a mailed subscription at

The following comments are provided by Iowa Soybean Association President Tim Bardole of Rippey in response to today’s signing of a phase I China-U.S. trade agreement.

Today’s signing of a phase-one U.S.-China trade agreement is welcomed news for soybean farmers.

When added to the U.S.-Japan trade deal signed late last year and pending Congressional approval of a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, progress with China offers farmers some optimism as we prepare for the start of another growing season.

Reaching this phase-one agreement, however, is just the first step on a long journey to restoring nearly two years of lost sales to the world’s No-1 soybean buyer. America is now a residual – rather than primary – supplier to a country of 1.4 billion people. The impact of this trade inversion will not be overcome quickly or easily.

While few details regarding the broader trade issues involved in this agreement have been released, today’s action is a step in the right direction.

As additional negotiations proceed, the Iowa Soybean Association will continue to pursue new market opportunities and increased sales. An ISA-led trade mission will soon travel to Bangladesh and Pakistan to meet with key soybean buyers and processors. The ISA will also continue to support the domestic growth of livestock, poultry and dairy production and new uses to drive greater soybean demand and sales.

The following comments are provided by Iowa Soybean Association President Tim Bardole of Rippey in response to today’s Senate passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Iowa soybean growers celebrate today’s congressional passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This long-awaited news contributes to feelings of optimism and security for the future of our farming businesses.

Mexico and Canada are both in the top four markets for U.S. soybean export destinations. Mexico is the No. 2 buyer of soybeans and Canada is the No. 4 buyer of soybean meal. Trade agreements with our North American neighbors are imperative for the success of the soybean industry and in providing certainty for a homegrown, renewable product with the ability to pave the way toward a more sustainable future.

Soybean leaders have worked at length to encourage legislative support for this important trade deal. We appreciate and thank Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary Mike Naig and Iowa’s congressional delegation for their efforts in securing this milestone.

Announcements like this and yesterday’s signing of the US-China phase 1 trade deal make the start of 2020 a positive one for soybean farmers across the state.

The Trump administration is expected to soon release a new "waters of the U.S." rule, Agri-Pulse reports. The rule redefines what streams and wetlands are regulated by the Clean Water Act, and some observers think an announcement could come this weekend when President Donald Trump speaks at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention.

“That’s a pretty good bet. It looks like the timing is right,” said Scott Yager, chief environmental counsel at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 

“I’m sure he’s going to want to say something” about WOTUS, said Don Parrish, senior director for regulatory relations at AFBF, which has probably been the most vocal of the trade groups in its criticism of the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Water rule, widely known as WOTUS. The Obama rule, which expanded federal jurisdiction, was formally repealed last year and would be replaced by the new version. Trump is scheduled to speak to AFBF on Sunday, followed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Monday. 

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