PUT SOYABEAN FULLY IN U.S. FARM PROGRAM, GROWERS S
PUT SOYABEAN FULLY IN U.S. FARM PROGRAM, GROWERS SAY
WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - Soybeans should become a full partnerin the U.S. farm program, growers said on Thursday, guaranteed $1.6billion in annual subsidies as well as plusher crop supports than nowoffered.American Soybean Association officials asked the House AgricultureCommittee for several changes in farm law as part of upcomingmodifications of crop support programs. Committee chairman Larry Combest,Texas Republican, wants to produce a bill by July 11."Our organizations strongly support including oilseeds in an expanded(guaranteed annual subsidy) program in the next farm bill," ASA leaderssaid in testimony supported by the National Sunflower Association and U.S.Canola Association.At present, oilseeds do not get that type of support under the 1996"Freedom to Farm" law but grain and cotton growers do. ASA asked for $1.62billion a year in annual payments for soybeans and $68 million for otheroilseeds. Grains and cotton would continue to get $4 billion a year.ASA also asked for:--revamping of the so-called marketing loan so it worked like thecotton and rice marketing loans, including a weekly announcement of anadjusted world price that would be used in calculating repayment rates.The change could allow farmers to pocket an additional 37 cents a bushelwhen prices are low."It doesn't make our soybeans more competitive," said Rep. CharlesStenholm, Texas Democrat, and added it could add $1 billion to governmentcosts."In our view, the AWP is a step in the right direction," said ASAchairman Marc Curtis. He said repayment rates too often were "above theactual price of soybeans traded on the world market."-- making the $5.26 a bushel soybean loan rate the minimum support,rather than the maximum. The rate would be allowed to float above $5.26,calculated at 85 percent of the five-year average market price, excludingthe high and low years. The government could adjust the rate between thetwo levels.-- creation of "counter-cyclical" payments that would automatically goto growers when national gross return per acre for a crop was below the1993-1997 average, excluding the high and low years, which ASA said was$238.59. Farmers would have received $38.17 per acre of soybeans grownlast year.As a step to assure the payments would not violate world trade pacts,ASA said payments should be made on 85 percent of a farmer's harvestedacres.--enactment of the Conservation Security Act so farmers get "greenpayments" for integrating soil- and water-saving practices into theiroperations. ASA suggested $1.5 billion in new funding for conservationpayments and $1 billion for agricultural research.Unlike many other groups, ASA did not suggest a "re-balancing" of cropsupports. Grain and cotton groups say they need higher supports for paritywith soybeans.ASA joined other farm groups in opposing land setasides, programs topay farmers to hold crops off the market and limits on farm programpayments. It asked for continuation of authority for farmers to switchfrom crop to crop to pursue profits and the option to forfeit crops to thegovernment rather than redeem a harvest-time loan.