A delegation of farmers representing the Wisconsin Soybean Association (WSA) arrived in Orlando, Fla., in early March to engage with fellow producers and industry leaders from across the U.S. and debate policy resolutions to begin the annual Commodity Classic.
On Wednesday, growers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and New York held their state caucus meeting in advance of Saturday’s full American Soybean Association’s Delegate Session. Growers debated issues related to crop insurance, conservation, taxes, biodiesel and market development programs. Nearly 10 Wisconsin farmers participated.
“I think it’s more efficient now because of the sub-committee structure and the prep work we do there ahead of the caucus meeting,” said WSA board member Tanner Johnson. “Having an in-house dedicated staff at ASA makes this a much better process. Things run very smoothly, we’re efficient and we had great dialogue.”
Kurt Kovarick of the Clean Fuels Alliance America updated growers on the challenges and opportunities in federal renewable fuels policy, topped by EPA’s draft set rule establishing renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2023 and beyond. ASA contends the draft RVOs are inadequate, EPA failed to adequately acknowledge increasing feedstock production and made faulty assumptions related to food expenditures.
Kovarick urged delegates to advocate with legislators and EPA leaders to protect an industry that’s enjoying record demand, is worth approximately $17 billion and awaits the construction of nearly 20 crush plants across the country.
“EPA has the opportunity to do the right thing,” Kovarick said.
USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie and Risk Management Agency Administrator Marcia Bunger spoke to the group about the department’s efforts on disaster relief, cover crops and climate smart projects.
“Crop insurance, thanks to all of you and RMA, has proven its worth,” Bunger said.
Commodity Classic Co-Chair and ASA Director George Goblish reported that registration for this year’s Classic increased by 15% over 2022, and day-of walkups should total in the hundreds.
“This is our Super Bowl and a chance to debate our policy,” Goblish said. “We’re very happy with the excitement around this year’s Classic.”
The sold-out trade show opens Thursday with a marketing presentation from University of Minnesota Grain Marketing Specialist Ed Usset, followed by an ASA policy update. NASA Program Manager Alyssa K. Whitcraft is hosting “Ask Me Anything” session to cover NASA’s agriculture work and how NASA science/data can support soybean growers’ information needs. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is slated to headline Friday morning’s keynote speaker. Later that day, the United Soybean Board is hosting a “State of Soy” panel with the latest updates and projects from the soybean checkoff.
“It’s always fun to get together with fellow farmers,” WSA President Sara Stelteer said. “This has already been a great Classic.”
Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience. It is presented annually by ASA, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.