A Review of ASGA's Very Full Plate
Each spring unleashes a tremendous amount of activity requiring incredible multi-tasking skills on the farm, in the halls of Congress and throughout the administration of government policies. Here is a peek at all of the issues in which we currently are engaged: Antidumping and Countervailing
Trade Cases against Mexico —The suspension agreements that replace AD/CVD duties need to be supported, monitored and enforced. With the agreements in place, there is no further need to continue the investigation. The Department of Commerce will rule very soon whether the investigations should continue.
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Trans Pacific Partnership Negotiations (TPP): If Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is voted on in Congress by early May, we could very well see the negotiations being completed or near completion by late May, with a vote on the agreement itself this fall. Clearly, our industry is very sensitive to additional sugar imports into an already oversupplied market, and we have conveyed that to the key negotiators.
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Making sure that we do not provide any further additional sugar or sugar-containing product access in the renewal of the AGOA this year.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): A free trade agreement with Europe that could have an impact on sugar trade between the two economic giants in the world. Negotiations are going on now, but no likely completion of a deal at least until 2016.
World Trade Organization: While negotiations continue, many major sugar-producing countries are expanding their subsidies to their sugar industries. The WTO moves at the pace of a speeding glacier.
Legislation: (1) Educate scores of new staff and new members of Congress on the importance and benefits of a strong domestic sugar industry. (2) Defend against attacks on sugar policy and crop insurance in both the budget and appropriations process throughout the year. (3) Push to get a federal standard for labeling consumer products whose ingredients have been produced from biotech plants. This is a huge issue for sugar and all biotech crops. (4) Waters of the U.S.: legislatively stop the overreach by EPA to regulate every drop of water on your farm. (5) Taxes: working within the agriculture coalition to protect provisions for accelerated depreciation on equipment purchases and to maximize the exemption of inheritance taxes so that farms may be passed to the next generation. We are also looking at other opportunities to make crop insurance more effective than it is today.
Administration: (1) Make sure the sugar policy is administered at no-cost to taxpayers. (2) Make sure the AD/CVD suspension agreements are monitored and enforced. (3) Monitor the crop insurance work to complete Trend Adjusted APH and supplemental coverage for the 2016 crop.
Biotechnology: (1) Get the federal labeling bill passed. (2) Draft and submit a report to the National Academy of Sciences on the benefits of biotechnology to the beet sugar industry. (3) Recruit, educate and train spokeswomen for biotech in all beet growing areas. (4) Design a three year herbicide resistance pilot program for multiple growing areas. (5) 10 THE SUGARBEET GROWER April/May 2015 Prepare and deliver presentations to the international sugar community, highlighting the key benefits of the technology.
Public Relations: Make sure all of the areas noted above are backed by a thoughtful and targeted public relations program.
Political Action: We are constantly working to meet, educate and thank members of Congress for all their support for a strong domestic sugar industry and policy. Multiple requests are made each day. As always, your support of your local PAC is critically important to make a real impact.
New Leaders: With the passing of the 2014 farm bill, several grower groups use this time as a period to transition new grower-leaders onto the ASGA Board of Directors. A good deal of education and training takes place to make sure all directors have a full understanding of a variety of complex issues in order to make good decisions for their cooperative and industry and to help educate the growers they represent.
2015 ASGA Internship: Megan Stevens, daughter of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative growers Marc and Jan Stevens of Montevideo, Minn., will be the 2015 ASGA intern. Megan is currently attending the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Science and Engineering. As a junior, she is pursing a Bachelor of Arts degree in applied economics and Bachelor of Science in chemistry.
Our industry is blessed to have such smart and talented young adults to further their educational and training experiences by working with us each summer and providing valuable input to defend and promote many issues that impact our industry. Megan joined her dad as part of the lobbying team during this year’s fly-in and has first-hand experience of making congressional visits to educate members and staff.
Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.
Luther Markwart, author of Dateline Washington, is executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.