Iowa delegates help shape national policy with the Amer

Jeff Jorgenson leads Iowa's delegates during the American Soybean Association's hybrid policy session. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

ASA sets path for year ahead

March 4, 2021 | Bethany Baratta

Delegates to the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) annual resolutions process last week set priorities to guide the association in the year ahead.

Top of mind this year were policies focused on climate and conservation, even creating a new section in the ASA policy resolutions document dedicated to climate-related policies.

“As we scan the landscape moving forward there are definitely going to be opportunities for farmers in this climate arena,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Jeff Jorgenson, who with the ISA board served as a delegate to the ASA resolution process. “Having oversight as to how policies are drafted, written and dispersed is important.”

Jorgenson sees the new climate guidance as an opportunity to participate more broadly in the conversations centered around climate change.

“In Iowa we’re looking at it as an opportunity to think about carbon credits and conservation practices, and also the potential benefits those practices have in terms of water quality,” Jorgenson said. “In Iowa we have a real push to work on water quality, and this also ties with the climate side of things.”

The adopted ASA policies run the gamut from support for increased expansion of biofuels to reducing barriers and increasing access to improved genetics and crop protection tools.

Delegates reaffirmed their support of biofuels, including biodiesel, realizing the impact higher biofuel blends could play in lowering emissions and improving air quality.

This specific policy mirrors that of the Iowa Soybean Association’s policy supporting higher blends of biodiesel in the state, including the Iowa Biofuel Standard Legislation, which Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds introduced.

For biodiesel, the legislation calls for fuel specifications that will increase demand of higher biofuel blends such as B20 and E15. The proposed legislation would create an additional 108 million bushels of soybean demand for Iowa farmers over the next five years. Iowa farmers grew just over 500 million bushels of soybeans last year.

“We’re essentially trying to turn up the demand dial of the products we produce,” Jorgenson said. Higher blends of biodiesel carry increased air quality and environmental benefits over lower blends, Jorgenson noted.

ISA Advocate Membership

The policies considered and adopted during ASA’s process were aided by ISA’s grassroots efforts, further strengthened by Advocate membership and engagement, Dolch said.

“The growing support from Advocate membership ensures that farmers’ voices are heard and understood at the Capitol in Des Moines and on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC,” Dolch said.

Policy issues are surfaced in discussions with farmers and refined through the policy development process. These issues are oftentimes elevated by Advocate members who bring concerns, concepts and ideas forward to directors, delegates, and various committees of jurisdiction.

Setting the policy priorities gives Dolch a compass by which to focus advocacy efforts at the statehouse and in Washington, DC, but it all starts locally at the field entrance and farm gate.

“I cannot stress the importance of ISA Advocate membership and engagement enough as we consider the short and long-term challenges facing the soybean industry. We must show up and show out as the policies being considered today will impact the farm community for generations to come.