ISA Newsroom

Agricultural news farmers want to know.

Soy Briefs

Article cover photo
Trade topped the conversation during U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s address to farmers and attendees at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio. (Photo: Joseph L. Murph/Iowa Soybean Association)

A record number of farmers converged on Texas last week for the 2020 Commodity Classic. Total farmers registered was 4,678—the highest number in the show’s 24-year history, eclipsing the previous record of 4,595 set in 2016 in New Orleans. Total registrations of 9,350 was also second only to the New Orleans event.

Held Feb. 27-29 in San Antonio, Texas, the 2020 Commodity Classic featured dozens of educational sessions, a huge trade show with nearly 400 exhibitors, a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a concert performance by Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry, policy meetings of the sponsoring commodity associations, a wide variety of presentations from well-known industry leaders and top farmers, and tours of area attractions.

Farmers who attended had the opportunity to get the answers, solutions, and information needed to create a vision for their success for years to come. Members of the ISA communications staff provided coverage of the general session, educational sessions and policy development, which can be found in our newsroom.

Commodity Classic returns to San Antonio March 4-6, 2021, as the show celebrates its Silver Anniversary next year. For, visit Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused educational and agricultural experience. Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

President Donald Trump today signed an agricultural border inspection bill authorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire additional inspectors, support staff and canine teams to fully staff U.S. airports, seaports and land ports of entry. A series of lawmakers put out news releases taking credit for the bill, known as the Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act of 2019.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ranking member Gary Peters, D-Mich., Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who introduced the bill in the Senate, and Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, who introduced the bill in the House, said in a joint release that it addresses the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industry at the border.

“We’ve seen how a variety of diseases can devastate agricultural communities around the world,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “Now is the time to be proactive. Additional agricultural inspectors and resources along our border will continue to make safety a top priority. This is great news for our farmers and consumers. President Trump said he would stand with our farmers and he has once again demonstrated that by signing this bill into law.”

The bill authorizes the hiring of 240 agricultural specialists a year until the workforce shortage is filled, and 200 agricultural technicians a year to carry out administrative and support functions. The bill also authorizes the training and assignment of 20 new dog teams a year, which detect illicit fruits, vegetables and animal products that may have otherwise been missed in initial inspections. Finally, the bill authorizes supplemental appropriations each year to pay for the activities of the agriculture specialists, technicians and canine teams.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating almost $70 million to support 386 projects under the Plant Protection Act’s Section 7721 (PPA 7721) program to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation, to safeguard the nursery production system and to respond to plant pest emergencies. Selected projects will be carried out by universities, states, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits, and Tribal organizations in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

“This program helps USDA build mutually beneficial partnerships with state governments, academic institutions, and other important agricultural cooperators across the country,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “Our cooperators use these USDA funds to conduct critical projects that keep U.S. crops, nurseries, and forests healthy, boost the marketability of agricultural products within the country and abroad.”

The FY 2020 project list includes 29 projects funded through the National Clean Plant Network, to provide high quality propagated plant material for fruit trees, grapes, berries, citrus, hops, sweet potatoes, and roses free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.

Since 2009, USDA has supported more than 4,000 projects and provided nearly $600 million in funding through the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. Collectively, these projects allow USDA and its partners to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive pests and diseases. They also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary to make sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers.

Learn more about the humans and canines that protect our borders and why they are incredibly important for our national security in the Iowa Food & Family Project Fresh Pickings magazine of the Iowa Soybean Review.

Farmers and ranchers may apply to enroll grasslands in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup beginning March 16. The signup runs through May 15. 

“Through this CRP Grasslands signup, farmers and ranchers can protect grasslands, rangelands and pastures, while maintaining the land as working grazing lands,” said Amanda De Jong. “The program emphasizes support for grazing operations and plant and animal biodiversity, while protecting land under the greatest threat of conversion or development.”

Through CRP Grasslands, participants retain the right to conduct common grazing practices, such as haying, mowing or harvesting seed from the enrolled land. Timing of some activities may be restricted by the primary nesting season of birds.

Participants will receive an annual rental payment and may receive up to 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices. The duration of the CRP contract is either 10 or 15 years. FSA will rank applications using a number of factors including existence of expiring CRP land, threat of conversion or development, existing grassland, and predominance of native species cover, and cost.

The 2018 Farm Bill set aside 2 million acres for CRP Grassland enrollment. CRP is one of the largest conservation programs at USDA. CRP marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020 with 22 million acres currently enrolled.

For more information or to enroll in CRP Grasslands, contact your local FSA county office or visit To locate your local FSA office, visit  

Soybeans in Iowa: Along with corn, soybeans are a main cash crop in Iowa. Though most people only think of corn when they think of Iowa, many farmers depend on soybeans as a protein source for their livestock, and as a second crop to rotate with corn to benefit their soil health.

This episode, you will meet Jordan Spear of Corteva AgriScience, who has worked as a soybean researcher since his college internship. He will share how soybean researching and genetics has changed over time, and how that innovation benefits farmers and consumers.

You will also meet DeEtta Andersen, a high school science teacher at Center Point Urbana, and winner of Iowa’s Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award, as well as a National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award. DeEtta is passionate about agriculture and student-lead learning, which you will hear clearly in this episode.

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

Podcast Series See more

Podcast Library Graphic